Rockers find the right mix in Vietnam

By John Benson

Saying Brett Newski & the Corruption are a Vietnam band is like saying Jimi Hendrix or The Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde were U.K. acts. The truth is all of the above found their initial success in a foreign country but eventually returned to America to pursue a career in the states.

Nevertheless, Milwaukee native Newski is all about championing the band’s odyssey in Ho Chi Minh City, where it formed two years ago.

“I was traveling and kind of in limbo a couple of years ago in between jobs,” said the singer-guitarist-keyboardist. “So I booked a one-way to Bangkok and went around mostly Southeast Asia just playing music, small little folk shows wherever there was a club or even a lot of unconventional venues too, like rooftops or hotel porches. Eventually I moved to Saigon [which became Ho Chi Minh City in 1975]. I always kind of wanted to live in a weird, third-world place.”

It’s not so much that Ho Chi Minh City is weird as it is an obscure or unexpected point of origin. While Newski performed in bands while attending the University of Wisconsin, it wasn’t until he traveled more than 8,500 miles that he found the next musical chapter of his life.

Newski said it was his second day living in Ho Chi Minh City that he came across drummer Matt Green. Eventually the duo met bassist Jeff Gantner, and Brett Newski & the Corruption were formed. That was roughly two years ago. After touring stateside last year, the act released its debut effort, “Tiny Victories,” which the singer said is an album for the underdog.

“Just being a small and independent band without label backing and especially being from Vietnam, which is such a long hop across the pond to get over here and tour, I feel like the odds are kind of stacked against us but we’re making it work,” Newski said. “And so far, so good.”

Newcomers are best suited to expect a Spoon-like aesthetic with unique rhythms and steady percussion allowing Newski’s vocals room to breathe.

Such is the case with lead track “Under the Boards” and groove-heavy “In Between Exits.”

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