He was once labeled “a man so great he needed two names” on The Hills. But when Us Weekly editor Rachel McRady sat down with Justin Bobby Brescia in an East Village coffee shop on a freezing New York City day, he was much friendlier and more animated in person than his reality TV, metaphor-spouting persona of years past.
With his sincere passion for both hair cutting and his new two-man band, Bobby Rock (@bobbyrockmusic), Brescia, now 32, is nothing like the man who supposedly broke Audrina Patridge’s heart time and time again from 2007 to 2010.
In fact, it was by mere chance that he got involved with the MTV reality series at all. At the time he was a professional hair cutter, working with pop superstars like Adam Levine and Maroon 5 and Madonna on cuts and styling for music videos. While on one assignment at Los Angeles’ Quixote Studios, he met the “cute and bubbly” receptionist, who would later become his love interest on The Hills.
Patridge, now 29, suggested Brescia cut her hair, later adding that he could come to her apartment and do it in front of the MTV cameras.
“I went and did my first cut and they filmed it, but it didn’t go in the story line,” Brescia recalled to Us. “It was like, ‘Why is this dude just showing up and cutting hair?’ But we had a good time.”
A few weeks later, Hills producers offered a hesitant Brescia a salary that was triple what he was making cutting hair, and the rest is history. He, like many former cast members, admitted that much of the show was fabricated to follow certain story lines. In fact, he added that he would have enjoyed it more if it had turned into an all-out scripted project.
“It wasn’t for me,” he said of The Hills. “It was hard to get me to shoot after a while because it was repetition and there wasn’t anything artistically happening and I wasn’t growing. So I said, ‘If you guys get some real writers in on this, I’d be all about it and we could build characters,’ but it never went to that.”
There were genuine moments captured on-screen, like when the longtime drummer played a live showcase with his former band Ed Stanley and when he’d ride his Harley up and down the California coast. But Brescia added that his chemistry with Patridge was legitimate.
“There was a genuine loving friendship with me and Audrina,” Brescia said, though he added they no longer keep in touch. “She’s such a sweetheart, and I picked up on that from the very beginning. I was always a friend to her from the get-go and there for her as a friend. We went through the things together. I felt like a stronger partner on the side who was like a teammate, who was like ‘Hey you got this! You can do this. This is good.’ That was real, that was awesome.”
Patridge has stayed in the spotlight and is currently the host of NBC’s 1stLook. She is also in an on-again, off-again romance with BMX biker Corey Bohan.
These days Brescia is focusing on projects that are close to his heart. He’s started up a chain of three salons — one in Manhattan Beach, Calif., one in Nicaragua, where he lived for more than a year after the show wrapped, and one in his New York City loft — called Brush Your Hair. Along with the help of a chemist, Brescia has created his own haircare line (also called Brush Your Hair) with around 12 different products.
“My passion is cutting,” he said. “I love to cut one-on-one, no big salon atmosphere. I’m all about kitchen cuts, but structurally done.”
While he’s cutting by day, at night the former reality star is embracing his newest passion — his band Bobby Rock. What originated as a solo group morphed into a two-man band, when Brescia met drummer Dave Dariani.
“It was pretty organic, actually,” Brescia said of collaborating with Dariani, 27. “We didn’t feel like we needed too much more than what we had, no horns, no orchestra. We say three’s a crowd. Personally I’d like to see interactions with massive amounts of people. Touring, festivals and interacting with the fans and clients is where my niche is.”
The group has been playing local shows in New Jersey and is preparing for two showcases at Austin, Texas’ SXSW festival in mid-March.
“It’s much more simple and raw sound, back to the way music in the ‘90s was and then it started to get over-produced and the production went very extravagant,” band manager Nick Pacelli explained. “This is bringing it back to the core and heart of music — songwriting and connecting intimately with the audience.”
A lot of what inspires Brescia’s new endeavor is working with Dariani.
“He was passionate,” he said of his bandmate. “He kind of looked at you and knew what he wanted. I love when people are being real. That’s all I ever dream of is the utmost realness all the time.”
Pacelli added that after his experience with MTV, Brescia was ready for a more authentic project.
“He was around so many s—y people on The Hills, so to meet someone as honest and straightforward and passionate about something, they really clicked on that level,” he noted. “[Brescia]’s a true Italian man and family is very important. He’s really about the family vibe. If he trusts you, you’re in the circle, but it’s a real kind of network he’s trying to build for the band and for life in general.”