So what’s the country music scene like in Queensland?
I think it’s growing all the time. Obviously there’s the Gympie Muster, and the Urban Country Music Festival at Caboolture. There’s Charters Towers. There’s so much country music stuff up here.
Since you’ve mentioned the Gympie Muster – it seems in recent years that it’s become a lot more organised and a lot more music focused – do you think that’s true to say? Have you performed there?
I’ve performed there a couple of times, mainly at the town square on the talent stage. But I have had some great opportunities – not so great for everyone else, but great opportunities for myself. I don’t know if you remember about three years ago, everyone got washed out. A lot of bands couldn’t come in.
But you happened to be living on the Sunshine Coast.
And I happened to actually be at the Gympie Muster at that time. Because they all got washed out outside the Gympie Muster grounds – there was massive water over the road and nobody could drive through it – and I just happened to be there selling CDs and I went to the mixing guy and said, ‘There’s no one on the stage – what’s going on?’ And he said, ‘Oh, there’s no one who’s turned up’. And he just jokingly said, ‘Do you play guitar?’ and I said, ‘Of course, yeah!’ And he goes, ‘Can you sing?’ and I said, ‘Yeah’. And he said, ‘So why don’t you get up there and have a play?’ I went, ‘Ohhhh – well – absolutely.’ So I went and found a guitar because I didn’t have a guitar, and I was selling CDs so I couldn’t leave the venue. But I got up there and played, and about five songs later Jay from Jonah’s Road came walking across, winked at me and said, ‘Thanks, mate, for filling in our spot while we were coming through’. Because Sinead Burgess’s backing band couldn’t come – they were stuck on the other side – so Jonah’s Road played for her. So those guys got up afterwards and that’s how I became great friends with Jay and Jasper, his brother, and I do a lot of songwriting with them now, just because of that coincidence, or that opportunity.
And it’s almost making the most of your opportunities, because some people might have thought, ‘Oh no, I don’t have my guitar. Oh no, it’s too scary.’
Yeah, and that’s the biggest thing about what we do – from my parents… My old man’s a chef, my mum’s a food and beverage trainer, my brother’s a business trainer and stuff. I’m from the hospitality background, where they know exactly that, well, you can’t stop the show now, and that’s the same thing with entertainment. The show must go on. It doesn’t matter what happens. When I was in Seussical Musical the lead girl – who had most of the lines in the play – pulled a hamstring, and she was side of stage crying her eyes out and then it was her turn to go on and she would just snap out of it, she’d go and do her character, she didn’t feel any of the pain – well, she made as if she didn’t – came back off and cried her eyes out.
Well, that’s professionalism.
That’s professionalism. And that’s the thing – things go awry, you just going to have to fix them on the fly and it’s going to be fine. And it’s funny – a lot of people don’t even notice that things are wrong. So I come from that sort of background.
You recently travelled to some schools and talked about music and the industry to kids. So did anything go awry there, that you had to react to?
Really, no – it was all fairly well organised. Scripture Union Queensland representative up there was Bille and she was amazing, and when we were up there it was just phenomenal. The only thing that was kind of awry was the fact that we had three gigs a day – and this is not a problem, it’s just part of what you do – but we had three presentations a day and the presentations go for an hour and a half, and school’s between eight o’clock and three o’clock, and a lot of these towns were … There’s a place called Anakie, like an hour and a half away from Capella, where we were staying, so we had to drive crazily to them and then crazy back to Emerald, so nothing went awry, it was just a lot of driving. But it was well worth it – well worth it.
So were you playing, as well as talking?
Yeah, absolutely. I had my manager, Karen Andrews, up there with us, and we’d just prompt one another with the outline and with the presentation, and then I’d play a song in between.
I would think it was also a good opportunity to introduce some kids to your music early on.
It was a great opportunity for that!
Well you can never start them too early on country music.
[laughs] No, exactly. See, that’s the thing – it’s much easier to convert people over to country music than it is to any other thing. It’s hard at first but when we go, ‘Well, this is country music?’ and they say, ‘Really? Keith Urban is country music?’ – ‘Yes, yes he is’. Then they come and listen and they say, ‘Wow, I love country music and I’ve been denying it all this time because everybody said I shouldn’t be listening to it.’
I’ve also heard it said that Ryan Adams is considered to be a ‘gateway drug’ for country music.
[laughs] ‘Gateway drug’ – that’s brilliant. I think that would be the best title ever. ‘He’s a gateway drug to country music’.
Maybe you were a gateway drug to those kids!
Yeah, well, hopefully! Hopefully one day they’ll go, ‘You know about those things? Well, that show was a gateway drug …’
If they all take up banjo and ukulele, it’s your fault.
It is my fault, and I apologise – well, no, I don’t apologise – I’m kinda glad. [laughs]
Part III of this multi-part interview will be published soon.
Chad’s website: www.chadshuttleworth.com