The places we can find comfort are strange. Some people have comfort foods. Some comfort movies. Some, tv shows. You get the picture. While I have all three, there are a specific group of people who have got me through some pretty rough times. That is the crew that works with Game Grumps and Ninja Sex Party. Ninja Sex Party got their start 15 years ago. Danny Sexbang (Dan Avidan) and Ninja Brian (Brian Wecht) pull together their musical and comedic genius to create some of the catchiest and most hilarious tunes you’ll ever hear. Their music and antics got me through one of the toughest times of my life. Now, November 2023, Brian has entered a new era. His many projects aside, he is ready to debut a new persona. Please join me as I chat with Brian and we introduce you to the sultry sounds of Trey Magnifique!
I bring to you today a man of many talents. A silent Assassin, if you will. A man who brings the thunder musically with groups like Ninja Sex Party and Starbomb. You can also hear his sultry sax playing in his new solo project, Trey Magnifique. Ladies and gentlemen, Brian Wecht. How are you feeling today, Brian?
I feel great! I’m having a great day. Thank you very much! Or, I should say that I’m feeling jazzy!
Oh of course! Now for our readers who may not be familiar. Can you talk about your early days growing up? I know, along with music and comedy, you’re a theoretical physicist. But, was music always a force in your life early on?
Yeah, music was always important to me. I took piano lessons starting in second grade, and then picked up the sax. Ya know? My school did the thing where you get a recorder. Then you pick a “real instrument”. Not to throw any shade at the recorder. But you know… like a concert band instrument. I picked up the sax, and was into it from the get go: both piano and sax. Then I just kept adding instruments and learning about music. So yeah, I’ve always been into music. Growing up, my father played a lot of jazz, like old school jazz, like 40’s jazz kind of stuff. That was a big part of our household.
As I mentioned before, along with being an accomplished musician and comedian, you were or are a theoretical physicist, how did this crossover come about? When did you make the move into music?
So, I did the full academic track: college, grad school, postdocs and professor. All throughout I was pursuing a career in academics as a theoretical physicist. When I was in grad school in San Diego, I started doing improv. When I moved to New Jersey, for a postdoc position in the Princeton area, I was going up to New York to do comedy. I met a guy there named Dan Avidan and we started Ninja Sex Party. That band is in its 15th year. Now, I told Dan early on that if this ever gets popular enough that we can do it as a career I’ll quit my academic job and do this. Lo and behold, in 2013, Dan got tapped to join this gaming channel: Game Grumps. Suddenly, the band got popular and it became a thing that we could do. So, in 2015 I quit my academic job as a professor in London and moved to the US to do NSP. I was also working for the Game Grumps channel at the time and able to now do entertainment full time. So it was really because my partner in the band joined a popular channel and it changed our whole life.
Dan actually brings up on the acoustic album that you both always had the goal to make people laugh but it touched you guys when hearing that people hold NSP and Starbomb in an important place in their heart. The songs are always funny but, Brian, the music is impeccable. It’s always absolutely gorgeous. Is it difficult to balance music and comedy?
Honestly, it’s difficult to write good music. But, I don’t think it’s difficult to balance them. I think it’s difficult to write funny comedy, if you know what I mean. Like, if we were doing “real songs”, it would be so much easier to write because we could just write good music. Then the lyrics could be about whatever. But with writing comedy songs or songs you have to put jokes in, the music should be a rock solid bed that the comedy can sit on top of. They have a bunch of interplay. What we always find challenging is not the music side of it, it’s the comedy side. We have the luck of working with a truly amazing producer in Jim Roach and his backing band TWRP (formerly Tupper Ware Remix Party). We have a murderer’s row of musicians that we’ve teamed up with. So, I think for us, the music is relatively easy. The comedy is still hard.
You mention TWRP joining in. How has that affected the writing process in general, when you approach an NSP record or song?
Well we know what genres TWRP can crush, I mean they crush everything but the funkier stuff…they’re really good at. Commander Meouch, the bassist who is also the producer of my smooth jazz record, absolutely destroys anything the guy touches funk related. So, when we’re writing things we’re thinking, “is this a genre TWRP can really excel at?” It’s not hard to find those genres because TWRP is so good.
You’ve talked about the new record a little bit. Take me into the mindset as you enter this new era as Trey Magnifique. The first single, Satin Velvet is amazing!
Yeah, so my main instrument for many years was sax in college. That was my central instrument in mostly jazz ensembles, but a few other things, too. I wanted to get back to doing sax stuff. So, a few years back, probably about five years ago, I bought a soprano, because I played soprano before. Always thought it was kind of ridiculous instrument. Can be great, but you know, it’s just kind of innately sort of silly. I wanted to do something that was sax related. I started showing up at a few shows here and there, like TWRP was playing and they sometimes asked me to sit in on a few things on sax. Through the process of doing it I came up with this Trey Magnifique character. I just started writing music for it honestly, without a particular genre in mind. I eventually hit on the smooth jazz stuff, which is very fertile ground. It’s fun to write.
I’ve been describing the album as semi comedic, because we took the music seriously, but it’s also kind of stupid. It’s been really fun to write this kind of music, that we’re trying to get to succeed at multiple levels. One: on the surface, you just take it totally seriously and it sounds awesome, hopefully. Another where there are choices made that are like, well, that’s kind of silly, if you know about jazz. Like, why would they do that? So, like these musical in jokes, which you could pick up on or not? I hope the record works on both levels.
Can we expect more sexy videos to accompany the record?
Brian: Yes! There is a new single coming out on the 13th in a couple of weeks. The song’s called “Santa Monica Boulevard”, which is a big street here in LA. That video is me and the really awesome Australian musician, Tom Cardy, who you might know. Awesome guy who came out to LA to do some stuff with NSP. I have drafted him to drive around LA with me in a classic car and that’s what the next smooth jazz video is going to be.
That’s going to be fantastic! Now is there a difference in terms of writing the music? This being in terms of writing music solo versus the larger collaboration process of NSP.
Oh yeah, with the jazz stuff you can get a bit more musically adventurous at least harmonically. The NSP stuff is generally pretty straight ahead. Most of it is rock or you know, some variation of rock. So, there’s nothing really harmonically while going on. In the jazz stuff you can take a few more chances. A lot of the album is pretty straight ahead. But there’s definitely more complicated stuff that you might find on like a Michael McDonald, or something like that kind of album. Jazz is all about extended harmonies, and the weird stuff, especially the 80s stuff. A lot of the stuff I really love from the 70s and 80s is takes a few more harmonic swings than you’d find on a typical NSP album. Also, it’s very different writing for something where I know it’s going to be an instrumental and needs to have, you know, a catchy melody, which is not sung. So that’s a different kind of challenge than coming up with a song with a vocal hook, where you can rely on the lyrics to do a lot of the work.
NSP is heading into its 15th year, and I would say the music industry is way different than it was just 15 years ago. What effect, if any, has that had on you whether it be with Ninja Sex Party or the new solo album?
Well, you know, the big difference in the last 15 years, of course, is streaming. Streaming was just in its infancy when NSP was starting out. I remember when a big source of income was still people buying the mp3, right? As opposed to just streaming it. Another thing that’s been big for this album is the resurgence of vinyl. Yeah. So like this album, and we put out a couple NSP albums on vinyl, but I really wanted to do some cool stuff with this one. We’re putting this one out on pure white vinyl and also cassette. NSP’s never done a cassette. I figured it seemed era appropriate for this. I am trying a cassette and we’ll see if anyone you know is interested in it. I’ve heard anecdotally that there was an appetite for cassettes. That’s what I grew up listening to as a kid in the 80s. I think it’s fun to have this like classic looking cassette, one side is pink, the other side is blue. Looks very smooth. That’s something that I definitely wouldn’t have thought 15 years ago. If I said, “hey, put this out on cassette!” People would’ve been like, “what are you? What are you talking about? No one cares.”
“What’s next?! 8-track!”
Honestly, I was kind of thinking about that. Should we do an 8-track for this? That’d be cool. I will say, I at least know people who have cassette players. I don’t know anyone who has an 8-track player anymore. I would actually be up for an 8-track.
I will say that I’ve personally moved towards cassettes if I want a physical copy because the price of vinyl has gone up so high. I love having physical media, but the price of vinyl at this point is insane.
Brian: It’s pretty nuts. Now, do you like the sound quality on cassettes? Do you actually listen to them?
For the most part, I’ve listened to the new albums I’ve bought on cassette, but I do stream most of my music. I’ll listen to more vinyl than I do cassette. Cassette to me is more of a novelty, like I enjoy this music and I want to support this artist. If I can’t afford the vinyl currently, I’ll pick up the cassette. Even more so than the CD. I’m more likely to throw a cassette on honestly.
That’s a big difference we’ve faced as well. A lot of the physical media is a memento and a way to support an artist. It’s not necessarily the thing you’re going to listen to. That was less the case 15 years ago or so.
I would say so. It’s become such a convenience. I can just hook my phone to Bluetooth and play the billions of songs available to the world. So, getting a little more serious. I would say that the internet did wonders for you and Dan and the crew as a whole. But the big discussion on the internet is the rise of AI and its potential impact on the future of the music industry. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Oh, I feel like I don’t have an intelligent opinion on this. I think for the kind of stuff we do, I’m not like, worried about AI suddenly becoming awesome atwriting comedy, music or something. AI can do stuff at the moment, but it requires a significant human hand to pick out the many options. What’s actually good. I think it’s a very real issue for the entertainment industry. But like, what the future of it is? Who the hell knows? It’s going to radically change things in a way I think that nobody can precisely predict right now, another thing for me, personally, you know, we’re, we’re indie right? It’s kind of a different problem for an independent musician, as opposed to like some writer on a TV show who is worried about some corporate overlord replacing them with an AI or something like that. I’m glad the WGA got a lot of the stuff they wanted, with respect to AI and things like that in the in the negotiations. I’m that the strike is over. But, I think for me personally, it’s so hard to say. I’m not particularly worried about AI, you know, replacing Ninja Sex Party or something like that. Another thing that I think is very relevant for the kind of stuff we do is that so much of that stuff is so personality driven, and people are supporting the creators. People are not going to support AI in the same way, right? People will say, “Oh, I like Dan and Brian, I want to support Dan and Brian’s stuff. Anything can happen and watch me be proved totally wrong about this. But, no one’s like, “you know, what I want to support? ChatGPT. Yeah, let’s go buy GPT stuff.” For the kind of stuff we do people are very much about supporting the human beings behind it. That’s another reason why, at least in my case, I’m less worried about AI. I mean, our fan base is so kind, and loyal and supportive, that we just feel the love all the time from people. Dan has a bunch of projects outside of NSP, I have a bunch of projects outside NSP, and people keep showing up for us. It’s just a testament to the wonderful people that listen to our stuff and keep showing up for all the different stuff we’re trying.
Exactly. Do you have any advice for people just kind of beginning their journey in either comedy or music or both?
I have advice. I don’t think any of it is a that useful or earth shattering. But the one thing that I keep bearing in mind is that I always told myself and we’ve done with the Ninja Sex Party and I’m doing with a smooth jazz record: just make the stuff you want to hear. Whether it’s music or comedy or writing or whatever. Anytime I have tried to write something occasionally with NSP will be like, “should we try for like a pop song and get some radio play,” we never even finished writing the thing. We’re just not into it. It’s not the stuff we want to do. So, I think the most important thing is to do it, and to do things for yourself, not for other people. That’s how you’re going to make the best stuff. There’s no, you know, secret formula to it. There are lots more talented people out there that never get to do this full time. We are very, very, very lucky to do what we do. I wish there was like, a clear path to doing it that I could tell people. You know, in my case, it’s not like I can say, “okay, first, go to graduate school for physics. Right? I basically fell into this career, through trying lots of things and saying yes to things, you know? When Dan and I met to start NSP, he was a friend of a friend. I got this real, like, kind of… sketchy is the wrong word, but like, not the most professional email from him. It said, “Hey, bro, you want to start a band? I heard your name from a friend.” Because I like to say yes to things I was like, Yeah, cool. I’ll meet anyone once. Sure, why not? 15 years later, here we are. So, I feel very fortunate that, you know, just saying yes to an email from a guy I’d never met because a friend of a friend turned into this. So, I guess the other thing I would say is, you know, say yes to things. Take a chance on stuff because you never know where things are gonna leave.
And do what you love. Right? If you go into it with the mindset of, I’m doing this because I enjoy it, not because I want to make it or be famous, I think you’ll be happy.
I totally agree. Another thing I tell people is just because you don’t get to do the art that you love, whatever it might be, full time; it doesn’t make you less legitimate an artist in whatever capacity. A lot of the best artists in any genre music, writing whatever it is, it wasn’t their full time job. Just because you’re not doing it full time, doesn’t mean you’re less than someone who is. Art is art, and you make art when you can. It doesn’t matter how you make it, you know, or whether you know you’re making a living from it. You may want to, a lot of people do. But even though it’s not your full time job, it doesn’t make you less legitimate of an artist.
The album came out a few weeks ago, and I don’t want to push too far ahead but do you have anything coming up after? Can we expect a solo jazz tour?
Maybe?! We did the album release show in LA on November 9th. I’m still writing stuff for the smooth jazz next year. All these projects just keep on going. Next year we have a new Ninja Sex Party and new Starbomb album. NSP is done from an audio perspective. We’re still working on videos and whatnot for that. We’ve got those two coming out. I’ve got a kid’s band “Go Banana Go” which is constantly releasing singles, EPs, and albums and stuff. Then I’m just going to keep writing new stuff for this. I’d love to record a new album for the smooth jazz next year. We’ll see if that’s feasible. My dream, which would be probably more money than I can afford to spend on this, is to do a big band thing. It would be amazing. Like in the style of Bob James or someone like that. Those are very expensive. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it. But, that would be my dream. To do a couple big band tracks just because that’s one of my true musical loves. Big band jazz, especially 70s style big bands. I love that stuff so much. So that would be a kind of musical dream thing to do. Is that gonna happen? Probably n-
You heard it here first! Brian Wecht taking a full big band out on a world tour next year!
Yes! World tour! The cheapest thing imaginable: transport 25 musicians around the world!
You have plenty of music projects taking up your time, anything going on outside of music. I know you’ve got the podcast going on.
Yep, got the podcast. That’s the big one. Yeah, that’s pretty much pretty much it. There are a few, as many people have, secret things going on that I can’t talk about. Some of the secret things actually will always stay secret. But yeah, there’s nothing I can talk about at the moment mainly outside music it’s the podcast.
No worries, man! Let’s wrap things up! Where is the best place to find information about you and the plethora of music projects in the works?
So you can follow me on most socials: Instagram and X (fka Twitter) as bwecht. I’m BrianWecht on Tik-Tok though I’m not a frequently uploader. For the album just look for Trey Magnifique on Youtube. You can also go to letshavesax.com to buy the album.
I was listening to the podcast earlier and heard that one. I really just wanted to hear you say “Let’s have sax!” live on call. So thank you.
Dylan, it’s amazing what URLS you can buy! You would think all of the good ones were taken. That’s mostly true, but occasionally luck strikes. I had another one that we haven’t hooked up yet. They were like 10 bucks each or something for a year. Some of them were really less funny than that. But they all had the word sax in them somewhere.
Absolutely perfect. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity. You guys have done so much for me personally and this community as a whole.
Oh man, Dylan, thank you so much. It was really great to talk to you. I appreciate you taking the time!
Mature Situations is out now on all digital platforms and available on cassette tape HERE.
Obsessed with all things horror, video games, comics and vinyl, Dylan has been surrounded by all things geek culture since birth. Along with writing for Icon Versus Icon he’s also the co-host for the year long Christmas podcast, “Christmas 365”.
“No wimps. No False Metal.”