Las Vegas songwriter Brett Vee channels his emotions into his music

(From left) Brett Vee and bandmates Aldred Basiga, Beau Monnot and Jack Cowell.
Photo: Spencer Burton / Special to Weekly

I'm sitting in Brett Vee’s living room, chatting with the songwriter about his solo project as bandmates shuffle in and out of his house. “People will be like, ‘How long have you been playing guitar?’ Long enough to where I should be way better,” he says in his monotone register. That cavalier attitude is just as palpable in his recordings.

Drawing on influences like Guided by Voices, The Rentals and the Ramones, Vee plays raw, lo-fi power-pop. And while his laissez-faire, punk rock ethos engulfs every song, he’s also a workhorse, playing gigs with a rotating cast of bandmates, churning out tunes online and holding some songs back to drop later on his own label, No Sky Cassette Tapes.

Vee started self-releasing his material with now-defunct band Good Grief, he says, because he didn’t feel comfortable asking others to do it. “If they want to put it out for me, they’ll ask me. If I don’t want to wait around, I’ll put it out myself.” A posthumous Good Grief tape awaits, and Las Vegan Bobby Franks plans to release a Vee EP, Derivative Nation, on vinyl through his Running in Place Records imprint later this summer.

Vee’s latest EP, the five-song Generalizing Anxiety, swells with fuzzed-out distortion (hear: the rousing, minute-long “Not Proud”), chunky hooks and lyrics about “not liking where I am in life, whether that’s geographically or emotionally,” Vee says. If the context varies, his critical relationship with Las Vegas remains a common thread. “From the guy at 7-11 to people on the road … there’s not a lot of kindness to go around here,” he says. “I think it’s because we’re not supposed to be here. It’s an inhospitable environment, and people have this weird instinct to try and survive over everyone else.”

Nevertheless, camaraderie has kept him tethered to the desert—at least for now. “It’s very bewildering to me that these people want to play the music I write,” Vee says humbly. “They’re not obliged to—it’s a thing they choose to do in their free time. It’s very flattering.”

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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