By Scott Lamond.
A vibrant if small selection of flowering splendour stretches for sunshine on the balcony of Brad Butcher’s inner-city apartment as the lyrical genius plants himself on the lounge inside to talk about a brand new album that is by far his best work to date. The pansies and impatiens in bloom remind Brad of his ‘Pop,’ Norman George Butcher. “He had a real green thumb, he always had paw paw trees, beans and tomatoes growing, and for me this is just a start, one day I’ll have my own veggie patch.”
This finely produced collection of songs, especially the title track ‘From The Bottom of A Well’ and ‘Well Dressed Man’ which are directly about him, is dedicated to Norman and it’s clear where Brad finds his inspiration in both music and life. “Pop died during the recording of my second album (Jamestown) so this new one is for him, he was on my mind right throughout the making of it all. Pop was one of thirteen kids in a poor family living in a cane cutter’s shack in tropical Queensland.”
“During the tough times of the post depression years and World War 2 era, “Norm” was seen as a beacon of hope and resilience to the large family.
“There’s no greater source of motivation than survival and Pop was determined to make sure his family had a future. He was far from the eldest in the family but he and his brothers were more like father figures, working the local cane fields and fishing the Pioneer River to live. He taught me that there is no substitute for hard work”.
“Outside the personal, this song is for anyone who has ever had a dream that seemed out of reach but reached regardless, despite negativity and knockers.”
Norman was a fine sportsman in the boxing ring and on the footy field, he fed the family with fish caught in the Pioneer River and eventually owned a home against all odds.
“From a rough beginning Nan and Pop built a life, and From the Bottom of a Well is all about achieving greatness from small beginnings.”
Brad delivers every song on this album with conviction and grace. It will fit in the folk, alt-country or Americana genres with ease but what is most important to Brad is the songs are the real deal.
“I don’t know how to write any other way, if it’s not something that I know or believe in, I find it hard to stand on stage and really mean it. This one feels good, the first two albums led me to this point. I’ve learnt so much and I’m really happy with every single song that has landed on the album.”
Prior to the album release a tour with the Weeping Willows and a few shows supporting Troy Cassar Daley marked Brad’s first steps into becoming a full-time singer/songwriter. Not bad for a bloke who is lucky to even have a voice. You could call it a miracle. “Being born with an umbilical cord around my neck and spending time in a humidicrib with fluid on my lungs meant I had a raspy voice in my early years and it was difficult for anyone to understand what I was saying. I had speech therapy as a child and I had to learn how to speak clearly,” Brad reflects.
Read the full story in Issue 86…