Going back to the beginning, meeting Anthony Lycenko and Ben McCarthy, I said that this was a dream I had, to make an album,’’ said Brad. ‘’I said, I’m not chasing fame or fortune, I’ve got these songs and I just really want to make an album.
‘’They helped me polish them up a bit before we went into the studio. My main aim was to be handed that disc at the end and have it be something I was proud of. Everything after that has been a bonus.’’
Since its November, 2012 release those bonuses have included rave reviews, numerous awards nominations, including three this year, and a maiden tour of Canada and America.
He was so well received by the Canadians that he’s been invited back next year.
Listening to the self-titled release it quickly becomes evident, any accolades are well deserved.
Throughout the course of 12-tracks he relays tales informed by his own experiences, the people in his life and the places he’s been. His lyrics conjure all manner of emotion, including love, loss, hope, sadness and defiance. He delivers each song with an honesty that is welcoming and refreshing.
This month Brad will play his second consecutive Gympie Muster. It’s an important gig for a man who finds himself embraced in equal share by the country music fraternity and the folk-roots community.
‘’It was a complete fluke last year,’’ he said. ‘’There was a big pile of music on the desk when Jeff [Chandler] took over the festival and he made a decision to go through them himself and check them out and he found me in there and said when he heard The Old Man’s Gone I was in. I could still be sitting on the edge of the bed if it wasn’t for that.
‘’I feel a lot more confident now that I’ve done it once. The people are that friendly there. Everyone comes up afterwards and introduces themselves and invites you to have a beer and I love that sort of thing. I’m lucky enough this year to have three shows, not just the one. I’m really looking forward to this year.
‘’The Gympie Muster is a good one. It’s people who own the music and love the music and make their way to a forest to see it. I love it.’’
Brad’s story leading to his start in music is filled with many trials, starting from his birth. He was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, restricting his ability to breathe. It left him with a defective voice box. Repairing the damaged vocal chords meant years of speech therapy as a child.
‘’The first time that it really affected my life was back in high school,’’ said Brad. ‘’I was in grade eight or nine and I had to speak in front of the whole school. I was like the house vice-captain I suppose you’d call it. And so I stepped up to the microphone and spoke to the whole school and to have the whole school laugh at you because they can’t understand what you’re saying is a pretty embarrassing thing, but I guess it’s character building as well.’’
‘’All those things that have happened in the past I use them to better myself now. It’s funny how things work and I always say that things happen for a reason. I use things like that to give me more confidence now, to speak clearly, and pronounce my words to make sure that people understand. I look back at that fondly now and I’m glad that happened because I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that.’’
Brad was forced to overcome another major obstacle after his schooling. He was working in a central Queensland mine when involved in a near fatal accident in which a crane rolled over.
It was this that led him to reconsider his future and ultimately his relationship with music, which had always been a sideline passion.
A friend of his eventually convinced him to send demos to producer/engineer Anthony Lycenko, who in turn introduced him to multi-instrumentalist Ben McCarthy.
Remarkably, the tracks that made the debut album were the only ones penned for the release. There was no great cull down from a figure three times as large, as is often the case.
‘’The Old Man’s Gone just fell out,’’ Brad said. ‘’That was two ten minute sittings. I don’t know how that happened but it did. Speed Of Sound was worked on for a good while. They didn’t all just fall out. I used to just go to bed and when I couldn’t sleep I’d start writing. And that’s when most of them were born. And then Ben and I got together over skype for six or seven hour long sessions to finish them off.’’
Brad said writing from the heart was essential.
‘’There’s not a song that I’ve written that doesn’t mean something to me for some specific reason,’’ he said. ‘’I don’t know how to write any other way. If I don’t believe in it or I have lived through it or seen it then I can’t write a song because it doesn’t connect with me. Some people say they can’t write personal songs, but I can’t write anything else.
‘’I can’t write anything other than what I know, so the songs that I’ve written weren’t aimed anywhere, it’s just the way they came out. I guess a lot of times you hear pedal steel in a song and they say it’s country, but it’s just the way it turned out. I love where I’m at. I’m lucky I can cross boundaries and haven’t been pigeon-holed. I can go and play the country festivals or go and play at a folk festival and not get looked at like, ‘what the hell is he doing’.’’
Brad is currently writing material for a second release and says he’s not feeling any pressure to live up to any expectations.
‘’It’s funny how it’s all panning out,’’ he said. ‘’I think the next batch of songs that I’m writing already are the best songs I’ve written. But this time around I’ve written 30.’’
For now though, Brad is keen to keep spreading the word and take his music wherever there’s a stage.
‘’It’s a big world out there and plenty of festivals,’’ he said. ‘’I want to get out there and see it and play to as many people as I can.’’
Matt Lawrence – Country Music Capitol News August 2013