Dennen’s wunderkind rise has been impressive. In 2004 Dennen released his self-titled debut, followed quickly by his sophomore LP So Much More (2006,) which spent months on the Billboard Heatseeker chart. The release drew the attention of John Mayer, for whom Dennen opened in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 the artist released his follow-up, Hope for the Hopeless, which debuted at #41 on the Billboard Top 200 and firmly established Dennen as a definitive new voice in modern songwriting. He’s worked with Femi Kuti, Natalie Merchant, and Jason Mraz; he’s toured with Dave Matthews, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and The John Butler Trio; and he’s played Bonarroo, Austin City Limits, Coachella, Outside Lands, and Newport Folk Festival. He’s also become the go-to guy for some of the best and most artfully soundtracked contemporary TV shows. His songs have appeared on Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, Parenthood, Brothers & Sisters, and House among others.
Considering his bold-name collaborators, association with hot TV shows, and impressive early chart and radio success, Brett Dennen could be living in the Hollywood hills, gallivanting around with starlets and hanging out in hotel bars. Nope. The bohemian artist, whose major in college was Community Studies for Social Change, lives with a roommate in Santa Monica and rides his bike to the grocery store. Dennen has never been into the ephemeral thrills of the rock star life, he’s after something else: a real career.
Dennen first started playing guitar and mandolin to amuse the kids while working as a camp counselor. Once Dennen got the feel for writing his own material, he couldn’t stop. “It was suddenly like, I kind of need to do this,” he remembers.
Dennen spent the next few years touring, and it wasn’t until December of 2009 that he had a chance to think about a fourth record. “I had two weeks off from the road, my housemate and I built a studio in our living room and we made demo versions of a bunch of songs,” he remembers. “The plan was to crank this album out in early 2010.
The extra time Dennen took making Loverboy had another unforeseen benefit; instead of touring around the world, Dennen was, for the first time in a while, really home in Los Angeles. With no bus to climb on first thing in the morning, no soundcheck to worry about, he started reconnecting with his most basic (and precious) feeling about music: joy. “People get this amazing opportunity to play music but after a while they figure out their routine and they stop going out to see music live, they stop listening to the radio, they stop exploring music,” he muses. “I go out and I see live music and I love it and I try to jam with people or just get out and play in a bar somewhere, just to be out and be involved and be a part of something.”
Which is exactly what Denen has been doing in the years since the release of Loverboy. In fact, he’s touring right this minute and will continue to bring his fans and intimate live music experience through the release of his fifth album, Smoke and Mirrors in late October 2013. People have already been enjoying the first hit single off of the album, “Wild Child”, and can’t wait to see what Dennen has been cooking up during his time on the road.