Why Did Brett Reed Leave Rancid?

Brett Reed leave Rancid lg

In 2006, Rancid’s drummer, Brett Reed, just up and quit the band. And for fans, his decision to leave just came out of nowhere. So why did Brett Reed leave Rancid?

Here’s what I know from being around those guys a little:

Brett Reed left Rancid having tired of the rock n’ roll lifestyle, constant touring, and being gone from home for long stretches. But Rancid signing with Warner Bros in 2002 also left a bad taste in Reed’s mouth, feeling like they had sold out for money.

Brett was the original drummer for the groundbreaking band, and he had been behind the kit for 15 years.

After the band’s long hiatus that started in 2004, the group got back together and started touring again, but all of a sudden, he just up and quit.

I was a little confused. The band wasn’t exactly at the peak of its career, but they were hardly has-beens.

Brett Reed literally dropped off the face of the earth. OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but he certainly bowed out of the spotlight and hasn’t sought it out since. And his former band members? They’ve all been super hush-hush about what happened.

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about Rancid lately. 

I just did an article digging into whether they are a political band – which you can read by clicking here. Are they left-wing? Right-wing? And what about the allegations that Tim is homophobic?

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What happened to Brett Reed of Rancid?

Brett Reed left Rancid in 2006 with little warning, tiring of touring and the music business, and has remained out of the limelight and public eye ever since.

So it turns out he’s not been up much of anything, at least publically.

It’s hard to know what happened to Brett Reed because he hasn’t told anyone. As I said, he hasn’t searched out the spotlight again. He hasn’t given any interviews, and his social media accounts are private.

In my research, I came across an interesting interview that he had done while touring after the release of Life Won’t Wait. In it, he responded to a question asking him what he enjoys and hates about the music industry.

Brett said,

“Got all day? Show business is fucked… My advice for any band is just to choose close friends and make the decisions that are best for yourself. Instead of the money decision, go for what you think will be best for you.”

When I put the pieces together, it seems that after a nice long hiatus during 2004 and 2005, jumping back into the business was just too much for Brett. So he walked away.

How punk is that?

It seems to me like he decided to follow his own advice.

Who is the drummer for Rancid since Brett Reed left?

Branden Steineckert, who was the original drummer of the punk band The Used, replaced Brett Reed in Rancid in the middle of a world tour in 2006.

The Used was already enjoying success after the 2002 release of their self-titled debut and their follow-up record called In Love and Death. 

Because of what can kindly be described as “cultural differences” with the other members of the band, he had recently been asked to leave the outfit. It was pretty devastating for him, and he found himself questioning his career path as a musician.

Steineckert was already friendly with the members of Rancid.

And he found himself telling the story in an impromptu therapy session one night after a show Rancid had played in Salt Lake City. The Rancid guys sent him home with a good pep talk that night, but a few days later, they called him up and offered him a spot in the band.

Originally hired to fill in for a tour of the UK, he was quickly invited to become their permanent drummer.

He had to learn all the material on the fly. As a self-described “super fan” of Rancid, he understood the importance of maintaining the essence of the songs he loved, but he eventually was able to define his own sound in the group.

Is Branden Steineckert a better drummer than Brett Reed?

Branden Steineckert is overall a much better drummer for Rancid than Brett Reed was. Reed’s playing was largely not missed by fans, and Steineckert is overall a more powerful and consistent drummer for the band.

It’s always a delicate task to compare musicians.

If you turn to the fan forums, there are some pretty dismal views of Brett Reed’s drum playing. Comments along the lines of:

  • “No ones gonna miss him”
  • “They could probably replace their drummer mid-set and I wouldn’t notice”
  • “I doubt anyone will even notice musically”

Even Brett himself seems willing to admit that his playing left a lot to be desired, especially in the early days.

In that same interview I mentioned, Brett himself said, 

“I hadn’t even played drums for like five months when I ran into Tim. I had just bought a shitty kit off of some junkie kid, and I learned my favorite songs in the basement. I totally sucked. Everyone hated Rancid for like the first year of the band’s existence (as they were clearly different from Tim and Matt’s previous band Operation Ivy). We sucked so bad! But those guys stuck with me and taught me.”

Steineckert, on the other hand, had been playing drums since he was 15.

He dedicated himself passionately from the beginning but quickly abandoned his lessons and sheet music to teach himself the songs of his favorite bands, learning by ear.

When he was asked to join Rancid’s tour, he was given just three days to learn 25 songs. I think that is proof enough that the guy is one hell of a musician.

Was Brett Reed a bad drummer?  

Not at all – he was a fundamental part of the sound that shot Rancid to fame. Is Branden Steineckert a better drummer? I think that, at least in theory, yes.

Comparisons are always dicey though.

I have a great article comparing Green Day and Blink 182. I get into whether the rivalry between the 2 bands was real or media-manufactured. But I also looked at which one is actually the better and more successful band.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Is Brett Reed still friends with Rancid?

Brett Reed is still friends and on good terms with the members of his former band Rancid, including being friends with his replacement Branden Steinckert.

In the course of my research, I came across a really cool picture of Branden Steineckert and Brett Reed together.

Steineckert shared the photo on his social media, and many people took it as ‘Proof of Life’ that Brett Reed is still around. I take it as proof that Brett Reed is still friends with Rancid.

In fact, Branden captioned the photo by saying:

“Although he’s no longer in Rancid, I’m glad we’ve remained friends. We’ve always gotten along great!”

When Brett left the band, it was reported to be an amicable split. I can’t imagine that his bandmates were anything but supportive if they were as good of friends as they claim to have been.

I wonder if that conversation with Branden that night after the Salt Lake City show somehow influenced Brett’s decision to leave the band? Maybe he realized that his replacement was right there, ready to work, and it made the decision to leave easier?

Does Brett Reed from Rancid still play music?

Brett Reed does not appear to be making music in any professional capacity after leaving Rancid. But he does still occasionally play with friends for fun.

In all my research, I kept hoping to find another band or side project, anything really, to confirm that Brett Reed from Rancid still plays music professionally.

I searched high and low, but it looks like the guy walked away from the stage forever.

But I doubt he walked away from playing music. Branden says they “geeked out” on drums together before that picture was taken. If Brett is still playing music, it is probably in private jam sessions with his famous friends or in his anonymous home somewhere in the Bay Area, where he supposedly still lives.

Rancid - Interview On Headbanger's Ball (MTV) 12/94 Part 1

Conclusion

So what conclusions can I draw after all my research into why Brett Reed left Rancid? There’s just one. The guy wanted out.

Being a mainstream punk star just wasn’t for him. After 15 years, he took his own advice, looked past the money, and did what was right for him. And he hasn’t looked back.


Photo which requires attribution:

Rancid, Sala Razzmatazz by Alterna2 http://www.altern is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a graphic and text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Hi, I'm Jeff Campbell, a former DJ, music journalist, musician, and music lover. I'm old enough to have seen all the cool bands and young enough to still remember them.

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