Although the multi-award winning Perth born singer-songwriter doesn’t have his own line of Tequila and cheese burgers he can serve up a nice liqueur if you’re passing by Brandy’s in Palmer Street, Townsville.
“It’s a pizza-pasta restaurant,” Brand, 44, told Country Update on the eve of the launch of My Side Of The Street.
“I’ve always been a foodie, I love food and I love cooking. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. It just felt like the right time of my life to branch out and have a go at something I’ve been thinking about for a while.”
So was Brand influenced by Oklahoma superstar Keith and Floridian singing sailor and pilot Buffett to enter the food and beverages business?
“Not much, they do everything on a bigger scale over there, they might have a hundred but I started very humbly,” Brand joked.
“There is a little Tequila in my restaurant but mostly pizza, pasta and a few cold beers. There’s no Mezcal like Toby or a line of Tequila named after me. There’s no cheese burgers, hardly any steaks. It’s more Tapas, more authentic home style cooking Italian style.”
The thrice divorced star has experience with hard liquor – he wrote most of seventh album Hell Of A Ride in a rustic log cabin in the shadows of the Jack Daniels distillery at Lynchburg outside Nashville.
Ironically, Lynchburg is a dry county but the spirit/s of the late owner – six times wed master songwriter Harlan Howard – permeated the hunting cabin and its visitors.
This time Brand found the emotional turmoil of his personal life and separation from his U.S. label Sony a drain on his writing skills.
Unlike Novocastrian Catherine Britt he didn’t write a vitriolic tune like ‘Call You Back Town’ about his Music City era.
“A lot of songwriters and artists when they go through difficult times in their life they sit down and they write about it,” Brand explained.
“I’m kind of the opposite – my songwriting turns off when I’m hurting or recovering. I’ve been collecting the songs for a couple of years now, some even longer,” “I have what I call my ‘good song’ file. It’s where I put the songs I really like but haven’t been ready to record. With this album it seemed like the right time to record a lot of these songs. There was no inspirational writing trip in the middle of the forest. It was more that the right time had come for a lot of these songs.”
The split with Sony was therapeutic.
“This was when my relationship broke down,” Brand recalled.
“They said ‘go home and we’ll give you 12 months furlough.’ I said I need to be home in Australia with friends and family. They gave me 12 months and I released There Will Be Love and I found I didn’t have the energy to go back. I didn’t feel like it was the right place for me. I had a great adventure over there. The last thing I did in the US was the opening spot for the Taylor Swift tour. It was going well, I had the next single ready to go. I just knew I needed the comfort and solace of home. That’s where I needed to be. It’s funny – you spend your whole life chasing that deal, the big dream. I got there and then I realised what I needed in my heart and soul was to be here in Australia.”
Brand hasn’t written recently for TV or movie soundtracks but ‘There Will Be Love’ featured as finale theme song in TV show Farmer Wants A Wife.
From the new offerings, hedonistic tune ‘Something New Under The Sun’ shares idyllic imagery with Buffett and Kenny Chesney and draws from escapist themes of Brand’s journey.
Adam, raised in the strawberry fields of Wallington near Geelong and dairy belt town Colac in Western Victoria by his mother and pastor stepfather, returned to Perth in his teens before selling his signwriting business and heading east in 1997 in his XF Ute.
Brand stayed in Sydney during his career launch, moved to Nerang on the Gold Coast near his three sisters and family, shifted north to Hervey Bay and had a two year stint in Nashville.
“This feels like I’m jumping in the car and driving north to Port Douglas,” says Brand who has thrived on the gypsy like wandering in his life and music.
“It’s just felt like the getting away song. The margaritas and martinis and nice cold beer conjure up the image of getting away to a beach, sitting in an idyllic setting overlooking the water and letting all your problems drift away.
Yes, a little like Kenny Chesney, permanently sitting in that beachside bar. I wrote it with David Lee and Tony Lane.”
Brand drew on a different writer for the new album title track.
“No, it’s not going to be a promo for Brandy’s,” joked Brand whose altruism includes working behind the scenes incognito after the Black Saturday bushfires, helping promote Vinnies benefit CD After The Fire at an honorary Whittlesea Country Music recovery festival and donating his song and video ‘I Was Here’ to the Salvation Army 2012 Christmas Appeal.
“It was written by my good buddie Travis Meadows who I have written so many songs with over the years,” Adam explained.
“You mentioned ‘Hell Of A Ride,’ that was written with Travis when we were writing in that old log cabin once owned by Harlan Howard. A lot of these songs were written by Travis. For me it’s about people getting together, not just a love interest. Let’s all get on the same path, let’s walk together as one, unifying, come on over to my side of the street.”
Brand says ‘The Hearts I Leave Behind’ was not inspired by ruptured romances including his brief marriage to Dancing With The Stars winner-partner Jade Hatcher who was 19 when they fell in love on the Seven Network TV show in 2010.
“This was written by my mate Travis,” Brand said.
“If I was asked today where I’m at in my life right now this song would very aptly do that. The words speak from the heart so much.
‘I want to find what others rarely find, conscience clean and peace of mind, life like a book I’m proud to sign, written on the hearts I leave behind.’
We strive so much in our lives, always for things like houses and cars, material things. If you reach a place in your life when you feel calm and settled, and when the day you go comes you leave behind your love, you leave behind your story to reach the heart. That’s much more important than the assets you accumulate to hand on. For me this song sums my heart up.”
‘Quit This Time,’ penned with acclaimed Nashville roots country singer-songwriter Erin Enderlin, features a duet with Jasmine Rae.
“Erin and I have been friends for a long time and written together a few times over the years,” Brand said.
“This song is influenced by life in general and a big part of life is love when you have lost it. It’s one of the biggest things that impresses upon our hearts during our lives. It’s something we all have to deal with. Sometimes you keep going back – even if it’s not physically – it’s emotionally – you go back to that source of something that keeps hurting you. It really hurts but maybe it’s just love. For me it highlights my endless search for love and sometimes it takes a pretty rocky road. The path you go through gives you the experience to draw from. While some of the experiences hurt like hell I think it’s something I can share with people. This is reality, this is life. You can either be cynical and a closed book or you can keep on believing, and striving for something better. I suppose that’s what I keep trying to do, keep moving forward and try to be better and move on to something that feels real.”
Brand uses a drinking metaphor for redemption in ‘One Can Be A Lot.’
“The character drinks his life away and asks for one more chance, that’s the storyline obviously,” Brand says.
“Substitute the drinking in this song for anything that pulls you backwards instead of letting you go forward, anything that isn’t a positive influence on you. The words are very poignant. Sometimes one can be a lot, one more chance. It only takes one thing to change someone’s life around. The line in the chorus – ‘one rock can bend a whole river’ like one thought changed the world’.
The words to the song are very powerful – first time I heard it I was touched. We make a lot of mistakes, everyone does in their lives. We do a lot of things that we regret.
Sometimes it takes just one good thing to turn it all around.”
Don’t get the impression Brand’s disc is heavy on heartbreak and light on levity.
Three songs delve into the Jezebels of life and the road – ‘Stupid What You Do,’ ‘Put ‘Em On Me’ and ‘Girls These Days.’
There’s a also ‘Right On Time’ that shares its title with an Alan Jackson song and the late Billy Thorpe’s ‘Most People Think That I’m Crazy’ – a live show stopper and theme song for the V8 organisation.
“Girls These Days’ is a Rivers Rutherford song,” Brand said of a tune that celebrates wanton women at concerts.
“When I’m on shows you always see these groups of girls who are on a girls’ night out, they’re dancing on the table and showing you their tattoos and belly button ring. You’ve got to love them, they’re out there having fun.”
Brand is looking forward to touring with Jasmine.
“She’s such an incredible singer,” Brand revealed.
“She’s really doing some great things with her new album. I spent some time with her at recent festivals and I feel she really has a lot to offer. She has the voice of an angel. I’m taking her out on the road to play for my audience and I think they’re absolutely going to fall in love with her.”
Does Brand ever Google himself?
He might find another latter day Queenslander Adam Brand whose father – the late “Mr Sin” Abe Saffron – mastered sly grog and illegal activities in infamous premises near Palmer Street in Kings Cross for five decades in the aftermath of World War 11.
That Adam Brand, now 40, lives at Kurrimine Beach on the Cassowary Coast south of Cairns.
In 2010 at the age of 35 the long lost son learned his mother, Christine Elliot, was a 22-year-old Kings Cross stripper when she gave him up for adoption when he was 13 months old.
His father Saffron died at 86 in 2006.
“I have heard about that story,” Brand joked, “but it’s definitely not me. My mum would be horrified. She was a Perth girl and she lives on the Gold Coast. I have three sisters and they’re all living on the Gold Coast.”
Brand releases My Side Of The Street on ABC-Universal in August before a national tour.