LISTEN: NEWSKI Shares “Airplane”

Collaborative new album Friend Rock pays homage to the 90s

NEWSKI (Image: Nomad Union)

The soul of 90’s alternative is still alive and well in the sound of Wisconsin’s off-kilter rock outfit NEWSKI, who enlists a friend/musical influence on every track for their new LP Friend Rock (April 7). 

From the confines of his tiny house in the Cheese State, group mastermind Brett Newski brings together a host of prolific pals from home and abroad. American alt-rock veterans like Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Brian Vander Ark (the Verve Pipe), Ryan Miller (Guster), Miles Nielsen and Scott Terry (Red Wanting Blue) join overseas acts like H Burns (France), The Secret Beach (Canada) and The Shabs (South Africa) to craft a cavalcade of collaboration for the ages. 

“Most of my friends I started with in music have since retired, which makes me feel like the world has turned and left me here. Collaborating with fellow ‘musician lifers’ on this album made me feel less lonely and insane,” explains Newski. “It’s been neat to become pals with musical heroes from childhood.”

Some of the connections on Friend Rock were made during NEWSKI’s podcast “Dirt from the Road”, where guest musicians would have a laugh about their worst moments on the road. 

One such friend is Mr. Miller of Guster, who joins NEWSKI on the focus track “Airplane,” which Rock & Roll Globe is proud to premiere this morning on the site. 

“I really respect NEWSKI’s hustle as a middle-class musician,” Miller says. “[He’s] running his own show and steering his own ship. It’s very inspiring.”

Listen to “Airplane following a brief Q&A with Mr. Newski himself, and make sure to catch his excellent mental health podcast here

Pre-order Friend Rock while you’re at it. 


NEWSKI Friend Rock, Nomad Union 2023


What is it about Rock music in the 90s that most appeals to you?

It was the first music I ever heard that wasn’t forced on me. Before that my only recollection of music was the plastic stuff they fed us in church. So when I heard electric guitars on the radio, I lost my shit. 


How did you choose who to collaborate with for this album?

I put a ton of feelers out to my musical influences and these are the ones that pulled thru. 


What is the story behind the title Friend Rock?

I was at a caffeine store in Austin talking to my friend Jeremy about funny album titles. He recited an interview he heard with sufjan stevens. the interviewer asked sufjan what kind of music he was listening to and he replied “friend rock”; aka he was only listening to his friends bands. I thought it would be a fitting and pretty funny album title.


Please tell me more about the song we are premiering, “Airplane.” 

It’s about looking back to a magical time when MTV still played music videos…when prank calling truckers on CB radios was top-shelf entertainment, and when MGD was still considered a good beer, Airplane (feat ryan Miller of Guster) encapsulates those feelies. It’s a slow-cruiser perfect for car listening while traveling speeds between 25-61 MPH, on any day that ends in why. 

It’s about the beauty of loitering and having no where to be. It’s about time standing still, in a good way. It’s an optimistic breakup song about looking back on your time together fondly with no regrets, even though splitting up is ultimately the right move for both sides.

NEWSKI feat. Ryan Miller “Airplane,” Nomad Union 2023

What do you miss most about the 90s and why?

Music on MTV. The scarcity of music was also amazing. Since we didn’t have everything all at once, music meant so much more. It’s certainly awesome to be able to listen to any song whenever you want now, but currently music has less value than ever in my opinion. 


What are your thoughts on how we’ve evolved in terms of tackling issues of mental health, especially in the music industry, since the 90s?

Mental health chatter is becoming mainstream, which is mostly great. We all have to deal with the cringe of people pandering to the topic on social media for clicks, but for the most part, mental health is making huge strides. I would argue America has some of the worst collective mental health on the planet, so it’s time we play offense against that. I’m optimistic about the future of our brains. 


In what ways does your podcast work lend itself to your songwriting process?

Great Q! It must influence my songwriting subconsciously, in that I get to talk to so many amazing weirdos who teach me new words!


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Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

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