Thunder Into Town
By Gareth Hipwell
The so-called ‘supergroup’ has a long and illustrious history in country music: from the famed “Million Dollar Quartet” of 1956 – comprising Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins – to Hardworking Americans featuring Todd Snider and Duane Trucks (Tedeschi Trucks Band). And, towering over them all in floor-length gunfighters’ slickers, the notorious Highwaymen, consisting of the peerless Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.
Australian country, too, has birthed some memorable collectives, from the exquisite partnership of Sara Storer, Gina Jeffreys, and Beccy Cole as The Songbirds, to the more recent Hillbilly Killers, featuring Catherine Britt, Bill Chambers, and Tim Rogers. But for fans hankering for an unholy union of tearing, earthy country-rock royalty, there’s been little to punctuate the droning of cicadas beyond infrequent visitations by big-name guests at solo appearances from the hard-rocking stars of the local scene.
Until now. Enter Adam Brand & The Outlaws: comprising Brand, country rockers Drew McAlister and Travis Collins, Matt Cornell (Baby Animals) and funny-man Mike Carr (Buddy Goode).
‘It’s been a long time coming, but it was a lot of fun doing it, I can tell you – a bit too much fun!’ Adam says of the project. ‘It’s been something that’s been in my mind for many years – getting a bunch of my mates together, and putting a band together. So, it was just one of those things: it was the right time. Everyone was between albums and recording schedules, and I was sort of, like, I wanna do this thing – do you want to be a part of it? And everyone was just like, Yeah, we’re in!’
Having made their live debut with two songs at this year’s Gympie Muster, Adam Brand & The Outlaws set out to “knock the dust off” some of the more time-honoured tunes of the country canon, along with several Oz Rock classics, with debut release Adam Brand & The Outlaws, due out in January 2015 on ABC Music.
With more than 15 Golden Guitars, countless touring miles, and an alarming volume of backstage beer and bourbon consumed between them, Adam and band are more than ready to bring their own “gilded palace of sin” to the Australian country faithful. The outfit’s massive Rebels & Rogues national tour is slated for February and March next year – and the band are promising a party of no small proportions.
Fittingly, opening track and lead single ‘Good Year For The Outlaw’ finds the band reflecting on their first introductions to country music.
‘First time I heard “Good Hearted Woman” I was in my uncle’s car: he said, Son, now that’s what I call music, listen to them guitars. You turn it up – go on, turn it up.’
The clip underscores the band’s “fired-up” project with both album and tour, featuring all five outlaws pacing behind bars, kitted-out in prison-orange jumpsuits – before demolishing their cell and reclaiming it for a tearing country-rock jam.
The track-list compiled by Adam and The Outlaws for the album reads like a “rogue’s gallery”: the band describe the release as “the ultimate party soundtrack”.
‘You know when you go on a road trip, and you make a playlist? It was kinda like that!’ Adam says of the process of selecting tunes. ‘We just said, let’s put together an epic party anthem playlist – those songs that, when they start, within the first 10 seconds, you go, Yeah! I love that song! This is our playlist – these are songs that we just have a ball singing along to or playing or listening to. And it just happened naturally – we all just threw songs into the pot, and away it came! We didn’t say, we’re gonna just pick traditional songs, or, we’re gonna just pick modern country songs – it was just like, you know what, it doesn’t matter: let’s just go into our libraries and choose the songs that we love. It’s the soundtrack to our party life!’
There’s plenty of “party” on offer here! Adam Brand & The Outlaws boasts a string of (relatively) faithful covers lifted out of everyday familiarity by the band’s earthy country updates: from Poison’s ‘Nothin’ But A Good Time’ to Gang Gajang classic ‘Sounds Of Then’, to Jet’s rousing millennial anthem ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ – which profits immensely from the addition of fiddle!
Adam and band up the honkytonk ante with their takes on Dave Dudley’s trucking classic ‘Six Days On The Road’, and anti-establishment manifesto ‘I Fought the Law’ – a song penned by Sonny Curtis of the Crickets and made famous by both The Bobby Fuller Four and The Clash. Jimmy Barnes’ ‘Working Class Man’ gets a country facelift featuring banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and close harmonies, and there’s a raucous, freewheeling country-rock take on Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett’s drinkers’ hymnal ‘It’s Five O’clock Somewhere’.
…read the full interview in Country Update – Issue 79