ALIVE AND KICKING
On his debut solo album, What A Way To Die, Brandon Dodd shows he’s more than ready to step out of the shadows of his other musical projects with an accomplished and wide-ranging collection of roots music songs.
If you’ve ever seen Kasey Chambers live in concert over the last five years you may have noticed the fresh-faced guitarist to her left. Nineteen year old Brandon Dodd and his drummer friend Josh Dufficy were plucked from a country pub and invited to tour the world as part of Chambers’ band, while they continued to build a loyal following for their blues-based duo project Grizzlee Train. Late last year the pair put an indefinite hold on Grizzlee Train activity, one of the key factors in enabling Dodd to pursue his goal of releasing his debut solo album.
“I always felt like I would do a solo album at some point but I needed the time to focus on it,” reflects Dodd. “Grizzlee has been awesome but it has also taken a lot of energy, as have the other tours I’ve been doing. Mentally I feel like having a clean slate and going into the album like that was the best way to do it. If we’d kept touring as relentlessly as we had been this probably wouldn’t have happened.”
He’s quick to stress the importance and influence of the time spent with Kasey and Bill Chambers, learning about songwriting, performing and life as a professional musician. “I don’t think I could have written the album without all of that experience!” he admits. “Josh has been a big influence on me musically and obviously Kasey and Bill, spending the last five years with them has been huge for my learning curve. We were so green when we first entered that situation,” he says. “From a songwriter’s perspective, I’ve done a lot of writing over the last three or four years with both of them, but mostly with Kacey on her recent album. I feel like there’s been a lot of growth in learning the craft of songwriting and being on the road and seeing how they conduct themselves.”
Both of the Chambers guest on What A Way To Die but the album was essentially the product of the working relationship between Dodd and producer/multi-instrumentalist Damian Cafarella who recorded the pair in a NSW Central Coast studio. They co-produced the record and as Dodd explains, it was very much a collaborative effort. “It was just him and I making this thing together so we knew there would be a strong thread through everything. We thought it would be best if we let the songs go where they wanted to. We decided that if it was a blues song we’d go in that direction and if it was a country song we’d go in that direction. That gave us a lot of freedom in the studio and I wanted people to hear that I don’t write in just one style of music. I feel really proud of what we came out with,” says Dodd.
Dodd is preparing to support Patty Griffin on her Australian tour, an opportunity that has him feeling “both excited and scared!” though he’s already well aware of Griffin’s music. “To be playing these rooms and opening for Patty is just a dream come true. I’ve played her songs with Kacey because she plays a lot of Patty Griffin at soundchecks.”
As for the title of the album, What A Way To Die could be construed negatively but from Dodd’s perspective it sums up his perspective on a life in music. “What a great way to live and a way to die,” he exclaims, before adding, “my grandmother wasn’t totally impressed with the name though!”
By Chris Familton