There’s a saying “you only get one shot”, yet over time rock ’n’ roll has proven that’s not necessarily the case. One such example is Glad Reed and David Claringbold. Collaborators in life and music since the mid 80s, they demonstrate on their new album The Road, that they’re still driven by a shared passion for artistic creativity.
Glad and Dave’s Dirt Band may be a fairly new moniker for them but Claringbold and Reed have been a musical entity since releasing singles as Just A Drummer in the 80s, and albums as Red Ochre from the late 80s up until 2010. Outside of that partnership Reed has spent countless hours as a session and live brass player for acts such as Midnight Oil (including the iconic brass on Beds Are Burning and as part of their famous Olympic Games Closing Ceremony performance), Laughing Clowns, The Cruel Sea and many more. Claringbold has also kept a hand in the industry as a producer and as Executive Director of the Sydney Opera House and a number of other creative projects. What then instigated a return to writing, recording and releasing new material after a six year break?
“We had six year old kids at the time we did Orchid Avenue (2010) and your life is at a different place. Prior to making The Road, I got very involved in a job during the intervening six years – working at the Opera House, running the venues. Then that finished and it gave me time to think about the next chapter of my life and making music again. I really wanted to have strong brass on this recording, I wanted to work live, I wanted the songs to be about a mature view of the world and one’s own individual circumstance, yet with a global view. We wanted to have fun and intrinsically play what’s in our hearts – celebrate that and turn it up,” enthuses Claringbold.
The new album is a thematically strong and cohesive collection of songs that question, seek and find resolution to the common question of how to tackle important turning points in one’s life. Claringbold “wrote the record over a period of six months when I knew big change was coming” and subjected his ideas to a process of refinement and collaboration with trusted friends.
“I just used an iPhone and sang into it – just ideas, not fully-formed songs. Then I went and sat with an old school friend Paul Berton, who played guitar on the album, and I played him eight bars of ‘I Was A King’ and he said “That’s good, finish that”. It was that kind of vibe – songs built from textures and frameworks of things. After listening to twenty or so bits I realised that this biblical imagery of death and rebirth, entrapment and release ran through everything so I discarded everything that wasn’t to do with that and we just focused on those songs. There are only eight songs on the album because we wanted to just focus on songs that were about that.”
Relationships that are both personal and creative have unique pros and cons, yet for Reed and Claringbold music has ended up being an important and constant unifier for the pair.
“You ride the highs and you ride the lows too I guess. When I don’t want to do something that does’t always come out the best!” laughs Reed. “That’s just the way it’s always been for us though. We met through music and music’s kept us together through thick and thin.”
Returning to music after time away, and as musicians who have been involved for a long period of time, gives a unique perspective on how the industry has changed and continues to adapt – for better or worse.
“I think for young musicians the options now are incredible,” says Claringbold. “The music I hear from Australian artists sounds fantastic. When we were starting out we just didn’t have the production capabilities at an independent level and that’s changed now. The way you can connect with a global audience is just brilliant. We didn’t have those opportunities. We played on the pub circuit in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane at that time and it wasn’t as glamorous as playing a festival stage and having 5000 people in the audience.There has been a brain drain out of the music business but there hasn’t been a passion drain. I just think it is going through a correction phase. I’m eternally optimistic.”