Interview with PAUL GRIERSON of Simply Bushed (Q&A)
Simply Bushed is a country band not in it for the accolades and awards, but for the way in which music can touch those who hear it, as evident in their latest single, Raise Your Glass (from the EP, Military Issue).
Lead vocalist and guitarist and mandolin player Paul Grierson caught up with Jackie Smith recently to discuss his response to Raise Your Glass scoring ANZAC Song of the Year at the Tamworth Songwriters’ Association Awards in January, the importance of ANZAC Day commemorations, and what he wants people to take away from listening to the EP.
Congratulations on the release of your latest EP, Military Issue. What’s your fans’ reaction been like so far?
Fans have been very responsive, both in emails and comments but particularly at live performances of the song when many glasses are raised as a tribute to our men and women!!
The release comes in the lead up to ANZAC Day. What does ANZAC Day mean to you specifically, particularly given that your respective family members have a background in the military?
For me, it very much leads me back to my grandfather and his change after returning from WWII. I also really contemplate my home and what a great way I life I have … the choices to do anything and very much due to the freedom provided through Anzac and the sacrifices made there.
Can you talk me through the recording process for Military Issue? I’ve seen some footage of you guys recording previous material and it looks like you have some fun with it.
We recorded this at a mate’s studio in Sydney, Steve Passfield [sic] and we had Rob Mackay fly down to oversee the process as our producer. The band members all very much have the song at heart and we tried to have each performance of each instrument appropriate and emotive as possible.
Your current single, Raise Your Glass, has such a powerful message. It’s taken out awards for ANZAC Song of the Year at the Tamworth Songwriters’ Association Awards in January and the film clip for the track was also a finalist for the Film Clip of the Year Golden Guitar. How does receiving such high accolades make you feel?
It is wonderful to write a song that seems to resonate, but really it is about the military, what has come to pass in our history and most importantly to focus on the current serving personnel and making sure that lessons learned are now applied to the care of those people needing it.
Can we expect an album to follow the EP in the near future?
You bet, hoping to have it complete and ready for Tamworth 2018.
What inspires you to write new music?
Without discussing this with Chris [Rieger, co-lead vocalist, banjo player and acoustic guitarist], my country is really my muse: its mateship [and] its natural beauty. It’s the humour and the character as well as the characters. I also look for the songs to be musically beautiful, being a bit of a guitar enthusiast. I know I still practice hard to make each recording an improvement on the last.
Why was it important to you to make Military Issue, and what do you want people to take away from listening to it?
Remembrance, appreciation and respect for those who do what personally we do not!!
Can you describe what it’s like performing for troops over in the Sinai and Solomon Islands?
What I would say is that I feel like we received far more than we gave. These trips were a career highlight and privilege and I am proud to have done something small for my country in the way that we can.
How does that compare to performing at, for example, the Broadbeach Country Music Festival and Ballina Country Music Festival?
Different kettle of fish … for a start, never heard machine guns at any of the festivals you mentioned!! It really is a different cause and a different responsibility. The festivals are a great chance to meet fans, play together and expand our cause. So [it’s] partially selfish in some ways … the trips overseas are to take a little piece of hope and a large chunk of appreciation to the people for whom we are performing … It’s all different.
What does country music specifically mean to you, and where do you see the genre’s future?
I think we are going strong as a genre. I feel it is one of the few music genres that still has a “scene”, for a better word. The stories are still real and relevant and for me most of the new music I am attracted to comes from within country music, due to its honesty and beauty and generally a decent quality!!
Generally speaking, what can fans expect from one of your live performances?
Simply Bushed fans demand honesty above all else. What they get from us on stage, in our songs, our energy and content is very real; we are all great mates and we invite our audience into that friendship!! We still love being Simply Bushed. We also feel that Australia needs our very Aussie voices!!
You started out as a “bush band”, and have now evolved into an “Australian music experience.” How have you grown as musicians since the release of your first album, Look At The Time (2010), until now?
Absolutely, and through no accident , I still go to guitar lessons and try to practise daily to become a better player which feeds into better songs and better shows , we also have some of the best musicians in the country in our band which adds up to a great package . My mate Chris is a great muso and a great business partner!!
What are some of the highlights and lowlights of your musical career so far? Are there any big dreams you still want to tick off, but haven’t had the chance yet?
Highlights are very much included here, the ups and downs are the constant battle to do everything independently and to get into the major events. Also, the battle has been that we are kind of unique being a bush band rather than a country act. This has worked for and against us!!
If you could collaborate with anyone in the industry, who would it be and why?
For me, I would love one day to record with two people separately: one is John Williamson; he is my songwriting hero. And I would love to write and record a song with Graeme Connors one day for the same reason!
What’s the epitome of success for you?
Would be nice to not have to battle for every inch of ground we make …. In many ways though I feel that Simply Bushed has been far more successful than I ever thought it would be, we are a fully independent act that is now in many ways amongst the top level of country music in this country .
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Firstly, as a wise man said to us, “Don’t be crap!” Words to live by!!
Work hard, make a life of it , not a rush and as someone else once said, “Never ever, ever give up.” Finally don’t be sheep , be yourself and be real (also if you are performing with a guitar, make sure it’s in tune!!)
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Faceless Men … on high rotation. I have some new Jeff Lang and some new Waifs and love them both.
What does the rest of 2017 hold for you?
Finish the bloody record !!
AMNPLIFY – DB
Connect with Simply Bushed:
- Jackie Smith