Brian Wheat recalls Tesla’s album ‘Bust A Nut’ selling 800,000 copies but being considered a ‘failure’

Brian Wheat recalls Tesla’s album ‘Bust A Nut’ selling 800,000 copies but being considered a ‘failure’

Tesla bassist Brian Wheat was recently interviewed by Anthony Montalbano for Vinyl Writer Music.

Wheat was asked how Tesla were able to maintain their success in the ’90s despite the grunge movement to which the bassist replied (with slight edits): “The first ten years were a cycle of albums and tours with hardly any breaks. And that’s why I think we went on that break. We were not slacking for those years leading up to the break. And really, some of our biggest tours were in arenas in ’91, ’92, and ’93. People forgot about albums like Psychotic Supper, but we were headlining arenas in America still. Then we put out Bust A Nut, which wasn’t the same. That’s when we broke up. But even still, Bust A Nut sold 800,000 copies, which was considered a failure at the time. It was the first album we did that wasn’t platinum, but we “only” sold 800,000.”

When Montalbano noted that considering 800,000 albums sold to be a failure is mind boggling, Wheat indicated: “By today’s standards, yes, but at the time, that was the mindset of the record company, our managers, and everyone else that we failed. We had four in a row that went platinum, and the fifth one didn’t work… failure. That’s what was fed into our brains, which resulted in us breaking up. We were defeated and deflated because we thought we were all right. We weren’t in arenas anymore; we were in halls and theaters. The people who make money from you saw this new thing called grunge, and they forget about you.

There was no “You’re going to be a career band, and we’re going to stick through with you and encourage you.” There was no encouragement at all. And I say that pissed off now because our managers or record company didn’t encourage us. We were discouraged. They didn’t do anything to help, and we imploded. But ultimately, it was on us.

Now, as I look at the 23 years since we got back together, I’m more proud of that, even though we don’t have the platinum records and all that stuff. We’ve managed to keep the band together for 23 years and be very successful. That’s all that matters to me. What matters now is what the guys in the band think, not some record company or manager. The true gauge is the fans, and we see how they react when we play certain songs; they go nuts, cry, or whatever. That’s the gauge, not somebody making money from us.”

You can read the rest of the interview with Brian Wheat at Vinyl Writer Music‘s website.

Tesla‘s “Need You Lovin'” video (from Bust A Nut album):