Adam Brand is one of Australia’s most popular and successful recording artists. In a career spanning twenty years he has sold more than 600,000 albums, won innumerable awards and built a large and loyal following that any recording artist would envy.
Twenty years is a long time to sustain a successful recording career. It should be respected and celebrated. So on July 13, 2018, exactly twenty years to the day since the release of Brand’s self-titled debut, ABC Music released Milestones…20 Years, a carefully curated collection of Brand’s greatest hits plus two new songs recorded exclusively for the project.
It’s 1997 and Adam Brand is living in the suburbs of Perth running a small business by day and singing in a country covers band a few nights a week. He had been turned on to country music when he stumbled across Boy Howdy, an American country band featuring Jeffrey Steele.
He records a demo with Martin Jenner, the brilliant but underrated guitar player (Everly Brothers, Ralph McTell, Cliff Richard) and drives solo across the Nullarbor in his XF Falcon ute to the Tamworth Country Music Festival where he busks on Peel Street, sneaks into a Troy Cassar Daley concert and hands out his demo to unsuspecting passers by.
From Tamworth he heads to Sydney to track down Melinda Schneider, a childhood friend who introduces him to Graham Thompson, then Creative Manager at Rondor Music, the publishing arm of A&M Records.
“That was a significant fork in the road,” reflects Adam. “Who knows what would have happened if I’d gone straight home to Perth. Graham listened to my demo’s, told me I could be the next James Blundell and offered me a publishing deal with Rondor.”
Adam signed to Rondor and soon settled in Sydney. Songs were written, demo’s recorded and an offer of a recording contract eventuated from Warren Fahey at Festival Records.
“I’m convinced that Warren signed Adam to Festival because of FMO – fear of missing out,” remembers Graham. “ABC Music were the dominant country label and Warren wanted to get in on it. I happened to sit next to him at a CMAA event in Sydney in 1997. People were saying nice things about Adam at the time but no one was jumping to sign him. I bent the truth a little about interest from other labels and he became very excited. The following Monday he sent us an agreement.”
Adam Brand’s self-titled debut album was released by Festival Records on July 13, 1998. The first single from the album ‘Last Man Standing’ became an instant radio hit and CMT (Country Music Television), who were serendipitously launching in Australia around the same time, saw the newcomer as a perfect fit for their target demographic.
Dirt Track Cowboys followed. It sounded fresh on the radio… riff driven country rock that featured a race call by Wade Aunger from Parramatta Speedway in place of a guitar solo. And it opened the door to a whole new audience: Revheads.
Brand developed a reputation as the hardest working artist in country music. Not content to sit around waiting for the world to make him famous, he and Thompson, who had by this time become his manager, drove from Far North Queensland to Western Victoria playing at schools and record stores. They visited every radio station, country music club and event promoter along the way. Album sales built steadily and the hard work didn’t go unnoticed.
Adam’s big break came at the 1999 CMAA Country Music Awards when he won three Golden Guitars: New Talent of the Year, APRA Song of the Year (Last Man Standing) and Video of the Year. It was unprecedented for the winner of New Talent of the Year to win any other award in the same year, let alone the prestigious APRA Song of the Year.
The big ball was rolling. Appearances followed on Hey Hey it’s Saturday, Good Morning Australia and others. Tours sold out quickly. Major festivals offered prime time spots and decent money. The record company and booking agency had a bona fide star who was willing to work hard. By September 1999 the debut album was certified gold and Adam had become one of Festival Records’ highest selling artists.
So what was it about this debutant from the suburbs of Perth who created such a stir in an industry in need of a shot in the arm?
Adam Brand’s songs resonated as much with people from the suburbs as they did with those from regional and rural Australia. He was a supreme live entertainer. But the real key to Adam’s popularity was that he conjured up different feelings in different people that were not mutually exclusive and worked to his advantage.
Young men related to him because he was a knockabout kind of bloke - down to earth, good natured and sang about cars and partying. Families liked him because he was down to earth, good natured and sang about family and friends. And to young women he exuded a sexual energy that they were attracted to but it was not so blatant that their boyfriends hated him. In fact their boyfriends liked him too for all the other reasons.
The debut album was followed in February 2000 with Good Friends. It built on the themes of the debut album and spawned numerous career songs: Good Friends, The Good Things In Life, I Did What?, Beating Around The Bush and You’re A Revhead. The singles were hits and the album won three more Golden Guitars - this time the three most prestigious: Album of the Year, APRA Song of the Year (Good Things In Life) and Male Artist of the Year.
And the big ball kept on rolling.
These remarkable early achievements set the pattern for a career that hasn’t waned in twenty years. They are the first chapters in the story of a gifted and much loved artist and his twelve studio albums, five gold albums, three platinum albums, four ARIA nominations, seven CMC OZ Artist of the Year awards and twelve Golden Guitars to date.
Subsequent chapters include an American record deal, touring with Taylor Swift, winning Dancing with the Stars and more. And it’s still being written, and it’s still going strong.
Milestones…20 Years marks the celebration of an outstanding career. It’s a collection of Adam’s greatest work to date plus two new songs: the reflective title track ‘Milestones’ and a foot stomping party anthem ‘Party Down Under’. Both were written with his “Outlaw” buddies Drew McAlister and Mike Carr and produced by Graham Thompson. It also includes an out take from the ‘Built For Speed’ album – a previously unreleased version of the Randy Travis classic ‘Forever and Ever Amen’ as well as ‘Hold My Hand’ and ‘Hard Times’ from Adam’s first demo session with Martin Jenner. And Sherriff Bullfrog – a song that Adam has long considered a lost classic held under wraps for twenty years by doubters and naysayers - finally gets it’s day in the sun.
Adam Brand’s highly anticipated greatest hits collection Milestones…20 Years was released by ABC Music on July 13, 2018.