We had a chat to the true blue Aussie legend ahead of his gig at the Deni Ute Muster
You began your career in music young, playing the drums with your dad – can you tell us more about your journey as a musician?
When I was 4 years old my dad and my uncles had a band called ‘Rising Rock’. My dad was rhythm guitarist and singer, Uncle Pete was on bass, Uncle Sam on drums and Uncle Sash was the dodgy manager because he was musically challenged (laughs)! I would watch them and I wanted to be just like Uncle Sam – sitting up the back of the band banging away on the drums. It just looked cool to a 4 year old and most of all, he got to make lots of noise (laughs)! So mum bought me a small drum kit and away I went. When I was 17 a couple of my mates and I got together and starting jamming in the garage like a lot of kids do, but we couldn’t find a singer and one of the guys was a drummer so I reluctantly gave up the drumsticks and filled the singing spot. If we had have found a singer I may not be talking to you now!
What is it about country music that gets your blood pumping?
Country music is and has been evolving over recent years. What I love about it is that it’s a melting pot of styles – blues, rock, pop, folk – and the major focus is on the lyric and story. Country audiences want more from their music than just a hook line sung over and over to a loop or beat. Country music takes you on a journey, connects with you and resonates with you. I didn’t grow up listening to traditional country artists, I was into The Eagles, John Cougar, Fleetwood Mac, Springsteen – and all these artists are amazing storytellers in their music and blur the lines between rock, pop and country.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a musician?
I’d like to think I’d be a V8 Supercar driver but in reality I don’t think I would have gotten too far (laughs)! I love cooking and always have, so my alternative career would have been a chef.
You’ve released a bunch of albums and done a lot of touring, what’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not on the road?
Cooking and eating! I love fishing too and then cooking and eating the fish – seeing a pattern here?! Something else I’ve been getting into a lot in recent years is renovating little old houses. I’m not great on the tools, but I love having a crack. The reno’s I’ve done so far have been with a builder-mate of mine called Dave Graham – an old school builder who tries his best to teach me, although I’m not sure how good of a student I am, but we get the job done!
For those who haven’t been, tell us about the Deni Ute Muster and what people can expect at the event?
If you had to pick the biggest party festival of the year it’s the Deni Ute Muster! There’s a vibe there that goes beyond just music and camping out. The location, organisers, music and the thousands that travel from everywhere just make it one of the best weekends you’ll ever have. People go there to leave the world behind for a couple days and just party! But don’t worry, the world will still be there on Monday (laughs)!
How do you prepare for jam-packed shows like this?
We always make sure we hit Deni with our A-Game. We put a lot of thought into which songs are going to get the place jumping. When I do Deni, I’m there to give it everything I’ve got on that stage!
What can fans expect from your set at the Deni Ute Muster?
The Outlaws is my dream party band. The bands made up of my mates who are great singers and artists in their own right – Drew (McAlister), Mike (Carr), Travis (Collins) and Matty (Cornell) – and we put together a song list of our all-time favourite songs that we like to party to, the songs you’d put on a mix tape and that everybody knows every word of! So it turns into a huge singalong with us and the entire crowd belting it out like there’s no tomorrow!
Most of our readers are Aussie Tradies and would be huge fans of your music, what words of encouragement do you have for our true-blue tradesmen and women out there?
Just keep doing what you’re doing, there’s nothing more satisfying than standing back after a hard day’s work and seeing something you’ve built with your own two hands. And then grab a few coldies, turn some music on and enjoy the weekend! Oh, and wear safety glasses!