Adam Brand is one of Australian country music’s busiest performers, regularly releasing albums and touring the country. He’s also someone who, as I’ve discovered in the past, doesn’t mind a side project. Now he has a new side project, which is actually going to be his main project for the first few months of 2016: Adam Brand and the Outlaws, which sees Brand gathering the considerable individual talents of Drew McAlister, Travis Collins, Matt Cornell and Mike Carr into one outfit. The band will launch their debut album and their national tour with a headline show at Blazes during the upcoming Tamworth Country Music Festival. Recently I spoke to Adam to find out more about the story behind the Outlaws.
So whose idea was the Outlaws?
It was my idea. I’ve been mulling it over for quite a few years, actually, probably ten years. And it was always one of those things I thought, One day I’m going to take a little bit of a break and get together a bunch of my mates, and we’re going to start this band and do an album and a tour full of all these big, classic anthems, and we’re just going to go out and have some fun. It was as loose and as broad as that. And all the planets aligned and it just came together.
I love the idea of you saying, ‘I’m going to take a break and …’ because for you that seems to be code for, ‘I’m going to take on another big activity or project’.
Yeah, that’s it – I’m adult with ADD, that’s for sure.
The last time I spoke to you, you said you’d taken a break and opened a restaurant.
[laughs] Maybe ‘adult’ was a stretch – I just have ADD.
This is an incredible collection of musicians to have in one place, let alone in one band. You said you first had this idea ten years ago – some of these guys would have been in that plan ten years ago. How did you pick them?
When you want to do something like this you have to do it with people who, first of all, you respect and most of all they have to be people you really get on with and great mates. These guys are some of my best mates in the industry, so the process of asking who’d be in there was fairly easy and straightforward. The difficult part – or in my mind what I thought was difficult – was whether everyone was going to be able to [take part], with the schedules. Everyone’s got touring and gigs and all that kind of stuff. First of all to record the album and then get everyone’s schedules to align so we can go out and tour. I felt that if all the pieces of the puzzle didn’t come together properly then it wouldn’t have been the right time and it probably wouldn’t have happened now.
How did you get the time to record the album let alone tour with these people?
I started talking to them about it all in December last year, so it’s had a bit of planning time. People are in between things and it’s sort of the right time – Drew [McAlister] was coming out of McAlister Kemp, Travis [Collins] was at the end of an album, Matt [Cornell] was at the end of an album plus Matt tours with me as well, plus Mike [Carr] hasn’t done anything for a long time, so I’ve been on him saying, ‘Come on, it’s time to get out there and release another Mike Carr album’. So that was motivation for him. It was the right time for everybody.
I have to confess that this is the first time I realised that Mike is Buddy Goode.
[laughs] No, he’s not. Buddy Goode is Buddy Goode. I’m keeping the illusion alive.
Yes, he’s the creator of Buddy Goode. Buddy Goode definitely has his own persona.
There we go.
So if I was to ask you to describe each of these Outlaws in one, maximum three words … Drew McAlister in one to three words?
Huge mountain of a man.
Cheeky guitar slinger.
Old rock dog gone country.
Hmm, what’s the word I’m trying to look for? He’s unstable, that’s what he is [laughs]. Always keep watching, because you never know what he’s going to do. He’s a wild card, that one.
And if I was to ask any of them about you, how do you think they’d describe you?
I don’t know what would come out, but it could probably be summed up as something like ‘non-stop Energizer bunny’. I don’t know.
I have to agree with that, given the amount of stuff you do. Now, the album’s recorded and it’s coming out in January. You mentioned that you’re covering some other people’s songs. Is that because you all thought you’d squabble about songwriting if you were left to your own devices?
[Laughs] No. If we all got together and wrote an album it’d probably be pretty interesting. The idea for this album was centred around the shows. And the idea of the shows was to go out and play songs to a crowd that just wanted to have fun. And from the first ten seconds of every song that we play, people turn to each other and go, ‘Awhhh, I love this song! Remember this song?’ It’s anthemic. It was a little daunting, because sometimes when you decide to cover a song – especially when a song is a classic – you always think, I’ve got to come up with some different way of doing this but I’ve also got to pay respect to the song.Because sometimes you just don’t mess with something’s that a classic. We covered a whole album of classics, so what we had to do was, first, before we decided on a song we had to really try to define our sound, and then whatever song we picked we just had to apply our sound to it so that we stayed true to this Outlaws theme. So that’s how we did it.
I think it was Drew who said there were a few dodgy gigs along the way trying to become good at what you do. Is that true?
I think what he meant was that we’ve all done a lot of miles, a lot of gigs over the years, to get to the point where we’re all ready to embark on something like this.
You mentioned that idea of having fun as being central to this – do you think that the mood in the country, in the culture, at the moment suggests that people do need to have a bit of fun? Have you been picking that up as you’ve toured?
Most certainly. Life’s not easy for your average everyday Aussie. I think fun being the central theme and a devil-may-care attitude is a healthy thing sometimes. Not that we don’t care what’s going on around the world, around us, but sometimes you’ve got to take a break and say you’re going to blow off some steam and let your hair down.
And certainly I think the role of country music when it comes to country towns, in particular, is really important – it does give people a break from some fairly serious concerns.
Definitely. Sometimes just that respite from what’s going on is enough to give you a bit of a kick and a bit of an energy boost to keep going.
The band is billed as Adam Brand and the Outlaws – does that mean you get to do most of the singing or do you let the other guys have a turn?
I suppose it’s billed that way because I’ve had a lot to do with all of these guys and their careers at some point. But what it means is quite the opposite: I can delegate everybody else to sing and I can sit back and have fun, just jump around the stage. And these guys are fantastic singers, they really are – I just stand back in awe. For me this tour is going to be a dream come true, you know. There’s one song in particular I sit back and hang around and probably carry on like a pork chop, and three times during the song I come in and deliver one line. I love singing, I love performing, but I get great satisfaction out of watching these guys do their thing. They’re going to be introduced to some new crowds as well, so it’s going to be fantastic.
You said earlier that it would be interesting if you all did some songwriting together – given how long you’re going to be on the road together and the collaborative nature of country music, I wonder what will come out of this tour.
You just never know. If a few of the boys can stay sober enough, we’ll see what happens [laughs].
You’re going to kick off the tour at Blazes [in West Tamworth Leagues Club] during the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival – was that always the plan, to launch during the festival?
It was. The Blazes midnight show has been historically my Brand Birthday Bash that I do every year and it’s just one of the biggest parties of the year for me and the boys in the band, so I just thought this would be the perfect time, the perfect kick-off, the perfect environment for the Outlaws to be unleashed. It’s going to be our very first gig. We did two songs at the [Gympie] Muster just to introduce people to us but this will be our very first full gig and it’s going to be a big night.
It sounds like you might need quite a long set to fit everything in.
We’re going to play the whole album and have a couple of surprises. But it’s not going to be an Adam Brand concert with all of my songs, it’s going to be the Outlaws songs and then a few little other things dotted in there.
It’s one thing to get you all together to record an album, but rehearsing for the tour – is that mainly going to happen in those days when you’re all together in Tamworth just before the gig?
We’ll probably go into the rehearsal studio before we go to Tamworth, just to have a bit of a blast-out. Before we went into the studio [to record] we did the same thing – we went into a studio for a week to rehearse these songs and sort out the arrangements and all kinds of stuff. So we’re going to be prepared for it.
And you’re all incredibly seasoned professionals, so I would imagine that in itself means you can all walk into a rehearsal room and you know what you’re doing.
The guys are very professional that way and we’ll all learn our parts and go there. It’s probably going to be more about choreographing our dance moves [laughs]. It’s more to work out how much fun we’re going to have, I think.
So is this the point at which we can call you a boy band?
Yeah, we’re a boy band, for sure. There’s going to be costume changes, feathers and sequins.
And you may all need to get matching haircuts.
[Laughs] That’s right. Although it’s mostly going to be Mike in the feathers and sequins, I’d say.
Well, one hesitates to ask if Buddy Goode is going to be your support act – I guess that will have to be one of the surprises.
Time will only tell.
Adam Brand already has a busy country music career, releasing albums regularly and touring Australia in between. When I’ve interviewed Adam in the past it’s also become clear that he’s fond of a side project – and now he has a new side project that’s actually going to be his focus for the first few months of 2016: Adam Brand and the Outlaws, which gathers the considerable individual talents of Brand, Drew McAlister, Travis Collins, Matt Cornell and Mike Carr into one band. The Outlaws will launch their album and kick off their national tour during the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival (dates below, after the interview) and recently I spoke to Adam about this exciting new venture.
Now, your fans are probably hoping that this new band doesn’t keep you from your solo career for too long. Do you have plans already for your next solo project or are you going to do the Outlaws tour first and see what happens?
No, this definitely has a life span, the Outlaws. We’ve got the tour booked in, we’ve got a certain amount of time in which we can do it, and once that’s done we’re all back to our individual careers. I’m already working on my next album, actually, for the end of next year .
Given that your idea of a ‘holiday’ seems to be opening restaurants and things like that, is there any plan for an actual holiday?
Ah … no, not really [laughs]. I’ll probably take a couple of days maybe after New Year’s and go away for a couple of days fishing, maybe. One and a half days. Two days. Something. We’ll see.
A lot of people may not realise that to have a career like yours – or anyone else who’s in this band – it’s consistent hard work. You need to have the talent to do what you’re doing but it’s that consistent hard work and realising that actually it’s fun to do it, but you still have to show up every day and do it otherwise things come to a stop.
Certainly. And in my regard, anyway, there’s a lot more hard work than there is talent. You’ve just got to keep working at it. You’ve got to keep on trying to be creative. I wake up every day thinking about performing songs, tours, different ideas, and while it is hard work it also is a labour of love, because it’s something that we’re passionate about.
And have you, over the course of your time touring, worked out how you can – this is possibly going to sound a bit woo-woo – work that energy of the crowd so you don’t run yourself down?
You always go out with the best intentions of not trying to completely drain your tank, but the very nature of what we do on stage is to be emotional, to just let everything out and connect. I actually don’t feel like I’ve done a good job and done it justice and given people what I should if I don’t come off stage feeling completely drained and exhausted and like I’ve given them everything I could. I don’t want to feel like I’m going through the motions. I want to go out there and if I’m feeling like jumping off the front of the stage or running around the stage five times, I’ll just do it because that’s what it’s about – it’s about being emotional, letting those emotions out, letting that passion speak for itself.
Which is great for your audience but I’m looking at this run of gigs and you’ve got quite a few day after day after day, so obviously you’ve worked out a way to give that much in a performance and still maintain your energy levels for the next night.
Yeah, I’m going to have a lazy-boy onstage so when the others are going for it I’m going to sit down and have a drink and watch, and then jump up and do my bit.
I reckon secretly you’re eating lots of vegetables and keeping yourself healthy is how you do it.
There is a little bit of that – but then there’s the other as well.
The debut album from Adam Brand and the Outlaws will be released on 8 January 2016.
Friday 22nd January 2016
Blazes – West Tamworth Leagues Club, TAMWORTH NSW
Monday 25th January 2016
Dargo River Inn, DARGO VIC
Wednesday 27th January 2016
Flying Horse Bar & Brewery, WARRNAMBOOL VIC
(03) 5562 2254
Thursday 28th January 2016
Hallam Hotel, HALLAM VIC
Friday 29th January 2016
Gateway Hotel, GEELONG VIC
Saturday 30th January 2016
Kinross Woolshed Hotel, THURGOONA NSW
Sunday 31st January 2016
Capital Theatre, BENDIGO VIC
Wednesday 3rd February 2016
Muswellbrook RSL Club, MUSWELLBROOK NSW
(02) 6543 1700
Thursday 4th February 2016
Ettalong Diggers Club, ETTALONG NSW
(02) 4343 0011
Friday 5th February 2016
Toronto Workers Club, TORONTO NSW
(02) 4959 2011
Saturday 6th February 2016
Waves Towradgi, TOWRADGI BEACH NSW
Sunday 7th February 2016
Goulburn Workers Club, GOULBURN NSW
(02) 4821 3355
Thursday 11th February 2016
Caloundra Power Boat Club, CALOUNDRA QLD
(07) 5492 1444
Friday 12th February 2016
Kedron Wavell Services Club, CHERMSIDE QLD
(07) 3359 9122
Saturday 13th February 2016
Twin Towns Services Club, TWEED HEADS NSW
Sunday 14th February 2016
Blue Mountains Hotel, TOOWOOMBA QLD
(07) 4632 3258
Friday 19th February 2016
Country Club, LAUNCESTON TAS
Saturday 20th February 2016
Wrestpoint Entertainment Centre, HOBART TAS
Thursday 25th February 2016
Inverell RSM, INVERELL NSW
Friday 26th February 2016
Laurieton United Services LAURIETON NSW
Saturday 27th February 2016
Moonee Beach Tavern, MOONEE BEACH NSW
Sunday 28th February 2016
Club Forster, FORSTER NSW
Thursday 3rd March 2016
Norwood Hotel, NORWOOD SA
Friday 4th March 2016
Old Mill Hotel, HAHNDORF SA
(08) 8388 7888
Saturday 5th March 2016
Mundarring Weir Hotel, MUNDARRING WEIR WA
(08) 9295 1106
Sunday 6th March 2016
Ravenswood Hotel, RAVENSWOOD WA
Thursday 17th March 2016
Dubbo RSL, DUBBO NSW
Friday 18th March 2016
Club Mudgee, MUDGEE NSW
Saturday 19th March 2016
Rooty Hill RSL, ROOTY HILL NSW