He’s been playing music for 25 years, recorded three full-length records at the world-famous Sun Studios in Memphis, and he has more than 130,000 views on YouTube. Still, David Brookings is far from a household name. But he’s cool with that.
“I’m not famous, but that doesn’t mean people haven’t bought the albums, and it doesn’t mean people don’t go, ‘Hey man, that’s a great song,’” Brookings says. “I don’t think anybody should be doing this to be famous, and I’m certainly not.”
Brookings, who will play a semi-unplugged set with his pop-rock band The Average Lookings at Streetlight Records in San Jose this Saturday, says he didn’t set out to be a superstar. Growing up in Richmond, Va., he began writing songs when he was 10 years old. Back then, he says, he never thought about whether his music would make him a star: “I always said I would do this whether I was famous or not.”
He moved to Memphis in his 20s to pursue music and ultimately landed a job working as a tour guide at Sun Studios. Brookings was allowed to record there after hours and he cut three of his six albums in the same room where Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley recorded some of the greatest pop music of the 20th century. He moved to the South Bay in 2009.
For the 35-year-old San Jose transplant, music is a passion. He made that quite clear with the series of YouTube postings he made from July of 2010 to February of 2011, in which Brookings posted cover versions of all 209 Beatles songs in 209 consecutive days.
He says he did it in part to draw people to his original material. But Brookings is also a huge Beatles fan and watching him perform the entirety of the Fab Four’s catalog it is plain that he just enjoys singing a good pop song.
In fact, perhaps the only thing he enjoys more than playing a catchy tune is writing one. It’s fitting then that Brookings would be so proud of his latest release, 2013’s The Maze. Comprising 11 compact and jangling gems, The Maze, is a veritable clinic in pop songwriting.
Shimmering guitars crisscross over a bouncing bass line and straight-to-the-point drumming on album opener “If I Don’t Make It Back,” a Strokes-ish number about the ever-present specter of mortality that looms over day-to-day life. At first blush, this sounds like a dark topic, but in reality it’s a meditation on the triumph of life. “If I don’t make it back/it’s gonna be all right,” Brookings sings along with a sweet vocal harmony. “It’s gonna take some time/but you’ll make it through the night.”
David Brookings and The Average Lookings will play an in-store performance at Streetlight Records in San Jose on Dec 13 at 2pm. More info.