‘I love telling other people’s stories’: Dean Brody on songwriting, influences and a late night at Winston’s
Published Tuesday, October 15, 2019 6:14PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, October 15, 2019 7:09PM CST
SASKATOON -- Tuesday's show marks the next stop on one of the biggest Canadian country music tours on the scene. Representing one of the headliners of the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Tour Alone” series alongside Dallas Smith, 16 time Canadian Country Music Award and two time Juno Award winner Dean Brody spoke with CTV Saskatoon's Joseph Bernacki about his success and influence in country music over the last decade. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
It looks like you are having a lot of fun touring with Dallas Smith, tell me how the two of you decided to do your current “Friends Don’t Let Friends Tour Alone Tour”?
This was an idea that came to our agent, Nick. Nick and myself and Dallas are really good friends, we hang out at Nick’s house a lot. He kind of thought of this idea and asked Dallas and me and we’re like "yeah this is going to be a lot of fun." I think just because of the respect I have for Dallas, it was a no-brainer.
When looking back on your first album release in 2009, with songs like Undone, Dirt Road Scholar and Brothers, did you see yourself become the Canadian country superstar that you are 10 years later?
No, no I was happy to have Brothers I think was top 10 and that was super huge for me. I don’t think I ever thought I’d be around for this long or definitely didn’t see the heights that our team would go to.
Growing up in Canada, who were some of your influences to listen to in country music, both Canadian and American?
Kind of nobody when I was growing up, I was a rock kid. I loved Aerosmith and Guns & Roses, ACDC and stuff like that. My country influence basically came later in my teens. Dwight Yoakam was big for me. Even bands like Prairie Oyster, George Fox at the time, I was like "oh yeah this is really cool," and the lyric of country music kind of drew me in because I’m from the country. It was kind of an easy go to as far as the lyric part of it.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the country music scene for a song that you haven’t already, who would it be?
That’s a good one. I think it would be Dan Tyminski, I’ve got a lot of respect for Dan and he’s an incredible artist. Gordon Lightfoot would be amazing, I don’t know if they’d call him country right now, Gordon’s a rock star but that would be super cool.
Where do you look for inspiration when writing a song? Your current single Black Sheep, where did the songwriting inspiration come from on this track?
Sometimes when I write stuff it’s really like I’m trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I find that a challenge and I love telling other people’s stories. Sometimes it’s me telling my own story, and that’s what Black Sheep was. For me it was experience, it’s a really personal song. I didn’t really know that it would strike a chord with anybody but we put it to radio and people are loving it.
With the friendships you’ve made along the way tell me what it’s been like to work with Alan Doyle and Great Big Sea throughout the last several years?
It’s been awesome, I love Alan, he’s an incredible musician and a good guy. He’s just an all-around great guy. He was one of my musical heroes growing up, so to actually meet him and not be disappointed and in fact grow in respect for somebody was super cool. We just did a video in St. John’s at the beginning of the tour, I think it’s coming out any day now, a lot of fun man.
What did it mean for you to be a part of the recent 25th anniversary of Charlie Major’s recording It Can’t Happen To Me alongside a plethora of Canadian country music talent?
It was huge man, Charlie was another one for me, I had thought "I can’t believe I get to share a stage with him." Same with Charlie, he’s one of those people I had a huge amount of respect for and when I met him, he’s as cool as you’d imagine he would be.
As a songwriter, with tracks you’ve written like Mountain Man and Good Goodbye, is it difficult for you to create a song with a use of humour in its lyrics?
It’s fun for me, music is just a fun thing and I like being playful once in a while with my lyrics or songs. I also really like the deep stuff too, I love a good love song. I can’t sit still basically, I like writing story songs, doing party songs, songs about Mexico, the beach, living on the ocean for seven years, I read about the ocean, I read about the mountains, it’s been awesome. The fans, have been so good to me letting me write stuff that is all a part of me. There’s so many different parts of me to write about and sing about and it works.
I’ve seen comparisons to your music having a similar style to Kenny Chesney, with songs like The Old Sand Bar, Bob Marley and Roll That Barrel Out, where do go for that kind of songwriting inspiration?
I lived in Nova Scotia near the water, it’s just beautiful. I love the water, I love the vastness of the ocean, it makes me feel small. I feel like it gives me a perspective in two places especially, the mountains and the ocean.
Looking back on your catalogue of music, is there a particular album and song that stand out to you for its songwriting or the experiences you had recording the music?
I’d say Time was that for me. I wrote that and I actually didn’t submit that at first. I thought it was "too country," and it’s been huge. It’s probably one of the most special things for me in my career to be able to sing that song and to hear thousands of people sing it back. Seeing people tear up in the front row, it’s meant a lot to me and to others too, so I think that song for me is special. I think maybe Dirt was a big one for me, and Trail in Life. That was a turning point in my career, it was one of the toughest albums I ever had to record and I look back on that as a big point in my career.
Can you talk a little about the inspiration you drew for writing Time in 2016?
I think having kids is a big part of that and just how time goes by. I’ve been in this business 10 years now, me and the guys we’ll get pictures of us 10 years ago and we look like babies and little kids. Just the passage of time, the old college buddies and you go back home and you see them, it’s something you know being older now, you really get a perspective of time. Right now on tour we’re having the best time of our lives and we’re really getting to see the beginning and the climbing, the ebbs and flows of the valleys and mountaintops. It’s been awesome!
How does the future of Canadian country music look going forward?
I think it looks awesome, right now there’s so much healthy competition between all of us and I think iron sharpens iron, the Canadian country music scene is so vibrant, alive and healthy. It’s in a great spot.
What can your fans expect at tonight’s concert?
A lot of energy, it’s going to be loud and awesome. There’s just a lot of things going on, we’ve got two bands on at one time, we’ve got two drummers going at certain parts of the show. It’s definitely different than I think any of our fans have seen before.
Favourite tour moment so far?
I think last night at Winston’s. We had a good time, we visited downtown Saskatoon, our hotel is just down the street and Winston’s was a two minute walk. I went in for one beer and didn’t leave till 3 a.m.
If you could record Streets of Bakersfield with somebody cover Dwight Yoakam’s song with somebody, who would it be with?
Oh wow, well with Dwight that would be amazing or with somebody like Charlie Major, that would be super cool.