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Adam Brand has got together with his country music mates to form The Outlaws, a rockin’ new party band headed your way in early 2016. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips spoke to Adam about the impending album and tour.

The Australian country music fraternity has always been a tight-knit group. It’s no surprise then that five of its favourite sons Adam Brand, Drew McAlister, Travis Collins, Matt Cornell and Mike Carr have come together as one to form The Outlaws, a country rock party band of the rowdiest order. It was just a matter of time before it happened but with these likeable larrikins on a long national tour early next year, is it just trouble waiting for a place to happen?

“It’s trouble not even waiting to happen, it’s just trouble from the get go I think,” laughed the band’s singer and founder Adam Brand. “If you’ve seen our first video, Good Year For The Outlaw (see below), you can kind of get a sense of what we are about. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we’re all trying to out do each other … in a good way of course, trying to trip each other up … I think that’s what you’re going to see on stage. I have had this idea cooking in my brain for about ten years, to put this band together just to have fun, a party band. We go out and sing classic anthems that everybody knows every word to. It’s like the epic play list. You’re going away on a road trip, that’s what I wanted for this album.”

outlawsalbumThe album, featuring 14 rock n roll anthems will be released on January 8, with the tour beginning a couple of weeks later but it won’t be the first time The Outlaws have played. Their debut performance was at the Gympie Muster in August this year and it provided an energy that Adam Brand can’t wait to recapture. “We were so excited, like a bunch of kids on graduation day,” he said “Put together, we’ve all, done thousands of gigs but that one, you could have thought it was our first time on stage. We were so pumped and it was really nice. It was a great feeling to be that excited as a group of guys to be hitting the stage.”

The selection process for the album tracks was relatively easy. It was a collection of songs which the band either grew up, that inspired them or they simply enjoy singing … tracks that they would listen to on a road trip. The thinking was that if the band were having a hoot singing these anthems on stage, then chances are they’d be contagious for the audience too. The only pressure the band felt was whether they would do justice to the selected songs.
“You always have this problem when you attack a classic song … how do you approach it?” Adam began to explain. “Do you change it and maybe have people say, oh no you messed with it? What we did is … we went into a rehearsal studio and we just jammed on all the songs that we loved and were in the mix to make the album. What we did was come up with our sound. We didn’t approach each song differently. We just thought, what is The Outlaws sound going to be and our sound is a mixture of rock, country and blues. It’s a fiddle played through a Marshall stack. It’s Les Pauls playing country riffs. We just played them the way we wanted to hear them. Then we thought, well this feels like us. This is naturally coming out of us as a band. Let’s apply that sound to every song we pick, whether it’s an old song by Jimmy Buffet or something by Queen.”

The country supergroup idea is certainly not a new one. The most famous assemblage of country music personalities was The Highwaymen, featuring Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, a band Adam regretfully never got to see. “No, I didn’t get to see them but yeah, they’re legends. Back in the day, they WERE outlaws. They were referred to as outlaws because they did push the boundaries. The country establishment were wary of these guys and raised their eyebrows. In a way, because they were blending country with rock and out there drinkin’ and havin’ a good time … I think this bunch of guys that we have here now … they’ve also been on that suspect edge of country a lot. They’re a little bit politically incorrect from time to time and a little bit loud and rockin’. So I think the outlaws handle fits us but we’re definitely not legends like those guys and will never be but our ethos is a bit similar.”

With so many capable guitarists in The Outlaws, Adam is hesitant to strap on a guitar and add to the chaos. He also wants to keep his wits about him on a stage he believes will be ‘prank central’. If he does pull on an acoustic, it will be a Maton. “I can’t go past the Matons,” he told me. “They are a great guitar and I love the fact that they are made here in Australia. I’ve been playing Matons for a long time. I have a few guitars at home, some jumbos, dreadnoughts, minis. I’ve got more than I know how to play.”

While the tour will be an extensive one, with dates running right through until March, Adam doesn’t foresee any of the hardships which he faced in the early days travelling around in his own bus but he’s not discounting any surprises either.”These days, we fly somewhere and jump into 12 seater or a Tarago … hire cars which are fairly well looked after. I have been stuck in the middle of the road between Armidale and Byron Bay, up a hill with an overheated bus though in the past and I’ve played some pretty tough gigs. A few years ago we played in a town in Western Australia. Cunderdin it was called and you don’t associate cold with Western Australia but this was out towards Kalgoorlie. It was outside and it was minus 1 degrees and we were playing on the back of a truck. We were all playing in scarves, beanies, jackets. We had gloves on but you can’t play guitar so we had to cut the fingers out. Just freezing cold. Things happen all the time. There was a gig where the PA cut out, so you stand at the front of the stage and everyone gathers around sing along to acoustic guitars. There is always something unexpected happening and that’s what makes it fun.”

Just before the tour kicks off, The Outlaws will get together to rehearse the show. With 14 tracks on the album, they’ll top it up with a few surprise tunes, hoping to have around 20 or so songs roady ready for a show lasting well over an hour. And how will the guys amuse themselves between gigs? Tell jokes? Have a drink? Kick a footy?
“We’ll all hang out and yeah, we’ll take a ball on tour,” Adam said. “There are no hard and fast rules. We all go out for brekky and lunch. This is something we have been looking forward to for a long time. Finally we get to do it. I think there are going to be a lot of stories come out of this tour.”

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