Barely Famous, a new reality show starring the Warren Brothers, premieres Friday (Sept. 10) at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.
After waking up late from a wild night, the Warren Brothers are mildly curious to see a list of the 2004 CMA award nominations, which were announced earlier that morning.
“Did we get something for vocals at the end of the year because we actually had one where we sound on key?” Brad Warren asks.
Indeed they did. Vocal duo of the year. For the sixth year in a row.
It’s a category not exactly known for stiff competition, considering that Brooks & Dunn have won the award for 11 of the past 12 years. Last year, the producers of the CMA television broadcast didn’t even bother to present that trophy on the air. Even though they had absolutely zero chance of winning, the decision didn’t go over well with the Warren Brothers.
“That’s bullshit,” Brad says. “Last year, Brett’s son got a little suit and looked so cute. He was gonna get his son on TV to show Grandma, so Grandma could see, and all the grandparents in our family could see the kids at home. And they don’t even show the vocal duo of the year because … you know, for whatever reason. Some people don’t like to talk about it, but we’re very angry. We’re angry about a lot of stuff. That’s one that’s at the top of our list.”
And don’t get Brett Warren started, either. After learning that a particular artist received several CMA nominations this year — yet still didn’t get mentioned in the male vocalist category — Brett says, “And he shouldn’t. He’s condescending.” Brett goes into mocking what might be perceived as that star’s superiority complex before finally saying, “I don’t get the hoopla.”
Whether or not you find humor in their observations about the CMA Awards could provide an indication of how you’ll react to Barely Famous, a new reality show starring the Warren Brothers.
“We talked about doing a TV show for a long time, and we were coming to CMT to have the first meeting for this,” says Brad. “We had no idea what we wanted to do. We met [producer] Melanie Moreau, and she said, ’What’s your show?’ And we said, ’We don’t know. We just feel we deserve a show.'”
Moreau sent them in search of a concept.
“So we went home and thought about what is funny about us,” Brad continues, “and the funny thing is, we have a lot of friends that are rich and famous, and we live in the middle ground. It’s funny to exploit blue-collar celebrities. Nobody does that, none that I’ve seen.”
A camera crew began to follow the brothers around, occasionally getting Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw in on the action.
“This show is knocking down perceptions,” Brett explains in his rapid-fire delivery. “People think you’re rich because you’re on CMT or because you know Faith Hill. It’s bizarre what the public’s whole take is, and they’re gonna get a different angle on celebrities and pseudo-stardom that they’ve never seen before, and it’s gonna be funny and vulgar and gross along the way.”
Not necessarily in that order, of course. The duo recently shot a music video for “Sell a Lot of Beer,” which sends up several famous videos, including Garth Brooks’ “The Red Strokes,” complete with paint flowing from unusual places. One scene, filmed for Barely Famous after the video shoot, shows Brad scrubbing red paint from Brett’s back in the shower. “Which is just gonna drive some women crazy,” Brett says. “I have a flat white ass and so does Brad, and the two of us scrubbing paint off one another is almost like … .”
“It’s very … country,” Brad concludes.
Still, you don’t get nominated for country music awards for being smart alecks, and both guys are quick to point out that they are ultimately musicians.
“It’s rock ’n’ roll country,” Brett says, describing their music. “We are like Donny and Marie, except we only believe you should have one wife — and we drink beer. But other than that, we are a little bit country and a little bit rock ’n’ roll.”
“It’s like when we first came out, the record company tried to shade that and not let it be exploited,” Brad adds. “But we’re more Tom Petty than George Strait, but we also have a country streak in the way we write.”
The brothers are signed to McGraw’s publishing company and wrote “Blank Sheet of Paper” on his new album. However, after scoring a few Top 20 hits, the Warren Brothers are no longer signed to a Nashville record label. They released the album Well-Deserved Obscurity earlier this year on 429 Records, based in California.
“I think we forgot to put some music in our episodes because we were having so much fun, and we were like, ’Hey, this is supposed to be so people can hear our record,'” Brad says. “You know, but we’re still songwriters.”
Brett adds, “We really do like making people laugh. … Even with our live performances … we’re always telling jokes and we’re always joking around — and we like that.”
“Even if nobody else laughs,” Brad interjects.
“My wife says, ’You really amuse yourself, don’t you?'” Brett admits. “I’m like, ’Yeah.'”
Asked if their hijinks might overshadow their musical aspirations, Brad says, “I don’t think so. Any way to get people to listen. I think at the end of the day, the more people that get exposed to you, the better. We think we’ve got the music to back it up. I mean, for God’s sake, if Jessica Simpson can get a No. 1 record, then we’re bound to get something out of this.”