Who The Fuck IS Brad Elvis?

You have to understand something about living in the Midwest. The Midwest is NOT the home of the “entertainment industry” It’s a place where people are used to buckling down and working for a living.

Sure, there are a few “rock stars” from the Midwest, but it’s a different breed of cat.

But what has the “entertainment industry” given us anyways? MTV? Auto-Tune? American Idol? Not much of anything really.

If I told you that the best drummer you will ever see is a guy named Brad Elvis, you might ask about what video he’s in. No Brad Elvis is NOT that guy in that YouTube video with 25 million hits. Brad Elvis plays lead drums, like lead guitar, but without all the Eddie Van Halen theatrics. Brad is a guy you watch as he bounces a stick off the snare or floor tom, or as he balances his stick in the open palm of his hand, or on the tip of his index finger, while laying down a back beat you can’t help but swing to. He’s from the midwest. He works for a living. His job is drummer.

And, unlike a lot of guys in the midwest and everywhere else in the world, he loves his job. He has mastered it. He does it so well, he can do it with one hand tied behind his back. But he never does. He shows up and gives 100% every time.

Brad Elvis plays drums for The Romantics. Clem Burke of Blondie recommended Brad for the gig. The Romantics are from Detroit, which is also in the Midwest. You know The Romantics from massive hits like “Talking In Your Sleep” and the anthem “What I Like About You”. And they deserve to be called rock stars. But remember they’re from Detroit and its about working and perfecting your craft and the craft of The Romantics is rock and roll. Both parts, rock and roll. It swings. And that swing is demonstrated quite graphically by Brad Elvis.

And in case playing in one great band isn’t enough, Brad plays drums and is part of the creative team behind The Handcuffs with his guitar slinging/lead singing/rock wife/better half Chloe Orwell. I saw a Handcuffs photo with Chloe wearing a “Who The Fuck Is Brad Elvis” shirt  a la Keith Richards and had to steal it for the headline.

For those from the Midwest proper (meaning Chicago:) Brad and his band The Elvis Brothers (a trio along with his rock brothers Rob and Graham Elvis) were staples of midwest clubs and theaters from the early 80’s through the early 90’s when they called it quits. Although they were signed to Portrait records who put out 2 of their 3 power pop classics, it was The Elvis Brothers live show that is the story of legend. With Brad playing standing up so he could jump and dance around while rocking out. Or tying a rope around each piece of his kit and throwing them over a bar above the stage so he could pull his kit into the air to end the set. Yup, they don’t make em like that anymore.

And this is part of the difficulty about Brad Elvis. He’s not the household name he deserves to be. Now, I’m allowed to make this kind of statement because my assessment of his talent is world class beyond 100 000 Kardashians. And when you’re talented as Brad, you don’t go around telling other people how awesome you are at what you do. Hopefully people say it for you, but either way, its obvious to those who witness it.

A couple of nights before I sat with Brad to interview him for this article I saw him play with The Handcuffs. The band was amazing and fun as hell. But what struck me most was how professional they were. They thanked the audience. They were happy and tight and they dressed up and they put on a real rock show. In a world where there is more time put into building your Twitter following than honing your craft, this was extremely refreshing.

Sitting with Brad he asked me told me that he has a log book (2 actually since the first one filled up) of every show he’s ever done. He asked me if I knew what gig that was last night? “4055” That’s right as of a few weeks ago Brad Elvis has played 4055 gigs. He pointed out that people think they play a lot but in reality it doesn’t add up to that many. (If you played a show every day for 10 years that would only be 3650 shows. The math is staggering)

Each show has a rating system, how much the band made, what the audience was like, who they opened for, etc. In other words, each show has a story.

Like the story of his killer late 70’s band “Screams” (seriously click the link) who were the opening act on the first Van Halen tour and were the only band who didn’t get kicked off the tour because Diamond Dave thought they were cool.  Great story, great songs but would that tell you who he is?

If I told you The Elvis Brothers opened for The Clash or toured with Billy Idol, or Cheap Trick, would that tell you who the fuck Brad is? Nope. It only gives a glimpse. The real story is really one that you have to experience. Its kind of like trying to describe what an apple tastes like to someone who’s never tasted one. You might come close in describing it, but you don’t know until you actually experience it. You have to get out from behind your computer and go to a show and SEE and FEEL Brad play for you.

I’ll let his fans chime in with stories and hope that you go check him out so you can experience it for yourself. Regardless, I’m naming him TheBestDrummerInTheWorld, because I own the web. And everything is true on the internet.

Go see Brad with The Romantics and go see him with The Handcuffs and realize that the world needs more pros like Brad. Watch and learn

Video credit TJ Superfan, Photo Credit: Della Peronne

To see Brad live: with The Romantics www.theromanticsdetroit.com

with The Handcuffs http://www.thehandcuffs.com/


Author: Ian

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  1. Brad Elvis is quickly becoming my favorite drummer (don’t worry Ian, you’ll always be my #1 favorite drummer). Soooo you didn’t steal my Brad Elvis quote and that’s ok because it’s your article but…here’s what i said,
    Keith Moon is playing somewhere tonight in the Midwest under the stage name Brad Elvis

  2. I’ve always said Brad was are (the midwest)answer to Keith Moon, nice to see i’m not the only one who thinks that…:)

  3. Well said, Ian! Brad is a drummer’s drummer, a rocker, a writer, a comedian/jester, an entertainer, a showman, an inspiration to other drummers, a snazzy dresser and a nice guy, to boot! What else?! Anybody?

  4. Very well-written, Ian. I have seen my fair share of pieces written about Brad, and this is one of the most carefully crafted, accurate and enjoyable ones. Great job and thanks for recognizing him as a talent to behold (and, you’re right, he doesn’t go around telling people himself : ). Now it’s time for part II: The prolific songwriter that is Brad Elvis. Cheers to you. : )

  5. Happy to say I’ve seen Brad play several times with the Handcuffs and have also gotten to hang out with him at other gigs. Very cool and down to earth dude. I think this article sums him up nicely 🙂

    Btw, nice touch with the “Midwest Proper (meaning Chicago)” 😉

  6. I first saw Brad play in his band screams in Decatur Illinois in 1976. Brad blew me away. This was the first time I had ever heard a band do the overture from Tommy. Since that time I’ve seen Brad play dozens of times and he’s always been at the top of my list of favorite drummers. And this includes Ringo, Charlie, Bonham, Moon and many of the other greats that we know. Brad is a wonderful talented drummer and I am proud to know him as my friend. Brad and Chloe are two of the most awesome people I’ve ever known!

  7. Great article. I’ve seen Brad playing drums since Screams in 1976. (He was the only one in that overly cool band who would talk to us young fans.) Saw him in the Elvis Brothers many many many times and now the last few years in the Handcuffs. He’s always nice as pie to everyone and so modest that I only found out a couple years ago that he was and is the main songwriter for all of his bands, well, except for the Romantic’s of course. If he was in New York or LA he would be a sought after session player I’m sure. Chicago is lucky to have him here!

  8. Several years ago Brad and his group at the time, “Big Hello”, did a project at my little studio in the woods. Some people take hours and hours in the studio to tweak every little thing and get the drum sound “just right”. With Brad, it was more a matter of throwing a few mikes up and the sound was there; suffice to say there are not many who have their sound so together that it will record well no matter what. To the comment about Brad’s songwriting, he used to carry a portable recorder around with him, and would record a lyric or hum a tune whenever a thought struck him. It’s like a song was floating in the air, and it was Brad’s job to pluck it out and put it down.

  9. brad kicks ASS!!!!!

  10. Really interesting article on Brad…and you’re absolutely right, he doesn’t toot his own horn at all., very laid back guy. (but man, I bet he has some amazing stories!) It’s great to see him get some recognition, so as a Brad fan, thank you! I do want to read more about his songwriting, so I hope you get another interview with him on that subject. Thank you again for the article. Well done.

  11. The Elvis Brothers were one of the first local bands I went to see when I hit club-going age. My friends and I became hooked instantly, in large part due to Brad’s skills and stage antics. I’ve seen him play an embarrassing number of times in my life and his talent never ceases to amaze me. Thanks for giving him the props he deserves.

  12. Wow, great article Ian and my sentiments exactly. You have to see him to “get it.” I stumbled into a small club one night, early 90’s, and noticed it was particularly crowded and a buzz in the room if you will. As soon as sound check started, I snapped to attention. I don’t think I ever heard a bass drum sound so good, and this was just the beginning.
    It was my first time seeing the Elvis Brothers and as a guitar player I usually lock in on the guitars. (Rob & Graham are amazing by the way) However I could not stop watching Brad and was more floored with each song. I could not believe this guy was doing all that damage with 2 toms and 2 cymbals. The attack and dynamics of his playing were like none I’ve ever heard.
    Then the show…. He’s standing up, sitting down, bouncing sticks off the floor tom, catch and crash on beat, the one handed playing while balancing a stick, hiding the stick down his back then yawning as if he were bored, all while laying down beats like Bonham and fills like Moon.
    Yep, I do believe that night changed me as a musician and what I thought a drummer should be. I own most of his recordings and some collaborations with others, but you have to see it live. This cat is AMAZING!

  13. Great article, Ian! You’ve hit the nail on the head several times here. I’ve known who the fuck is Brad Elvis since the ’80’s and I feel honored to be friends with both him and his beautiful wife, Chloe. They’re great musicians, fun people and they know their way around a fortune cookie. In the late ’90’s I was living in New York and The Romantics were playing at Irving Plaza and I went to go see them with a friend. I hadn’t seen Brad drum in years and as soon as the sticks hit the skins, I turned to my friend and said, “Jesus fucking Christ, I forgot how great he is on the drums!” I’m back living in Peoria, Illinois these days and I took the train to go see The Handcuffs a couple of months ago in Chicago and was blown away by the latest line up. I hadn’t seen them since they played New York a few years ago and as good as they were back then, they’re even better now. See them when you can because it’s a live band experience that will be happily burned in your memory banks like a s’more roasting over an open fire. And buy their CD’s, download their songs and give peas a chance, seriously, I’m only sweeping. Hike!

  14. I have a lifelong passion for live rock and roll, especially when it’s done right – and that’s the only way The Handcuffs do it. I missed Screams, but I was around for The Elvis Brothers, Big Hello and now The Handcuffs (my favorite of the lot). Brad is not only the engine room for these bands, as many great drummers are. He’s also the pyrotechnic display. Great talent, great showmanship, great fun. Brad’s got the perfect knack for glam-pop hooks as a songwriter, too. What’s not to love?

  15. p.s. Superbly done, Ian. Thanks for a great read!

  16. Since I was a wee lad I have always been drawn to the drummers in the bands I watched/listened to. None have mesmerized me more than Brad Elvis. He epitomizes “performer”. He keeps time as well as any Swiss clock and is deserving of all praise and recognition he can get. Other drummers know: this cat is the real deal.

  17. I have been a fan of Brad’s since God invented dirt.

  18. My best friend and I saw the Elvis Brothers for our first time when they opened up for Billy Idol at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.

    The very minute we got back home, we rushed to buy their album. After that, we saw the Elvis Brothers whenever we could, and have been fans of Brad in all his creative enterprises every since. Brad is one-of-a-kind, and deserves to have this wonderfully written nod to his career, Ian. Bravo!

  19. I grew up and live in Peoria Illinois, right across the river where Brad grew up. I spent my early legal drinking days watching Screams and later the Elvis Brothes play local clubs. Brad was always amazing!! Our band, The Untouchables played a New Years Eve gig with Screams which I beleive turned out to be their last performace. Fantastic drummer, mad humor and a very humble person who never hesitates to return a Face Book message. I’m a Fan!

  20. I grew up down the river from Brad in Peoria Illinois and spend many night of my youth watching Brad in local clubs like Sgt. Peppers, O’Leary’s Cow and Second Chance. Out band, The Untouchables were supporting act on Screams last perforamace on New Years Eve 1980!! Fantastic drummer, mad humor and never unwilling to say hello or return a face book message. I’m a fan!

  21. Brad’s just one of the many reasons The Handcuffs have played at 27 Live more than any other band.

  22. Brad does everything right. Everything. The clothes, the hair, the showmanship … in the mid-’90s, I wrote a number of stories about Big Hello for a newspaper and a free music monthly, and I’ll never forget what he once told me about why his bands took the stage with such attitude … they were dressing up for a night on the town in Rock City … this during the grunge and shoegazer era … after my first Big Hello show (a Chicago Pop Monday gig at the Beat Kitchen) I was hooked … my brother and I drove all over Illinois and stayed in hotels just to hear him pound those Slingerlands … and a big second to Chloe … such a prolific yet sadly unheralded songwriter … I love Brad Elvis, not only for his talent but his devotion to what rock ‘n’ roll really is and his sworn duty to uphold and protect its legacy. Long live Brad Elvis! TELL THOUSANDS!


    I am proud to say that I know Brad and, YES, he is the most entertaining drummer that I have ever seen live…And I’m not just saying that because I’m a HUGE Romantics fan, it’s just a matter of fact. I’ve also had the honor of having him drum on my shoulder with his drumsticks. LITERALLY.

    He’s funny, a little goofy, and an all-around good guy.

    Go see him at a Romantics or Handcuffs gig– you will NOT be disappointed! 😉

    And if you ever have the chance to meet him, you’ll find that he’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet…

    I totally agree: BEST DRUMMER IN THE WORLD!!!

  24. Brad IS the best drummer in the world!!! He was awesome with the Elvis Brothers, is incredible with the Romantics and ROCKS with Chloe and the rest of the Handcuffs!!!!

  25. Thanks for writing such a nice piece on Brad. First got to see him in ’78, opening for Cheap Trick. My first live show, ever. Never saw a show with two bands who were so complementary to each other. Nielsen sat directly behind us taking in their whole set. He caught my attention immediately, “Who the hell’s this guy?!” Didn’t see him again until ’83 or ’84 with The Elvis Brothers at the old Blue Note in Columbia, MO. My sister said, “You’ve gotta see these guys.” I walk in the place and looked up and immediately yelled, “Screams! It’s that guy!”
    Was listening to their double album that Sony Special Products put out in the early 90’s and couldn’t help thinking, “There’s no one like this guy, anywhere,” and I’m a guy who never ends up looking. If you want to hear his writing abilities, try tracking down the Screams song, “Pop Art.”

  26. Awesome article Ian. You hit the nail on the head… Or the snare! Brad is one of my favorite drummers, right up there with Ringo, Bonham, Moon and Clem Burke. I never saw the Screams but did see the Elvis Brothers a couple times in Macomb, IL. Also saw Big Hello a few times, once with the Romantics at Chicago’s Hard Rock when Clem was still in the band. I said that night that if Clem ever left, Brad should be the drummer. Sure enough, Blondie reunited and Brad got the job. I finally got to see the Romantics live and Brad was behind the kit! So thrilling, especially because Mike was back in the band. Before that though, in what has to be one of my all time thrills, I got to jam with. Brad (and Chloe) at a mutual friends house. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to top that unless I meet and jam with Paul McCartney and Ringo! Seriously. Brad is the one Rock Star (and I know he doesn’t think of himself like that) where when you meet him, you aren’t disappointed. In fact, you aren’t even intimidated. And watching him do what he does on stage is an event in itself. Not to be missed!

  27. I agree 100%…..
    Brad Elvis is awesome. I’m working backline for him during the Rick Springfield tour 2015. Brad is such a neat and funny character. It’s simply amazing to see him play on such a small set and producing great drum lines with.

  28. Went to high school with Brad And Graham before they became Elvis’s. They were entertainers then and have perfected their trades. I think Moon is looking down saying ” Wish I could have played the skins like that”. In my book Brad is the best ultimate entertainer.

  29. The first band I ever saw (besides ShaNaNa) was the Elvis Brothers opening for Billy Idol. I was 13 I told my 11 year old brother “this is what we should sound like”. To this day that is still my favorite show I ever witnessed. We did form a band and got real good but we never sounded like the Elvis Brothers.
    Years later upon meeting another of my favorite bands Too Much Joy I greeted their drummer and informed him how great he was and how he was my 2nd favorite drummer. Their bassist/producer over heard those accolades and interrupted in his overly limey accent “excuse me sir but who is your favorite drummer?”
    Enthusiastically I shot back “BRAD ELVIS. He plays like a cross between Tommy (TMJ drummer and Keith Moon while standing up and dancing”
    He paused “if Tommy played drums standing up would he become your favorite drummer?”
    “He couldn’t do what Brad does”
    I quickly retorted.
    Perhaps it was my first show.
    Perhaps overtime things seem bigger than life but that show the Elvis Brothers did in Morehead Kentucky was a show that changed my life.
    I often wonder if there is any tapes of those early Elvis Brothers shows.
    Chaz Worm – singer, bass and banjo
    Earth, Worm and Fire

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