Dan Brodie reflects on Spencer P. Jones' influence on his life and music


SEPTEMBER 15, 2018

WHEN legendary Beasts Of Bourbon guitarist and raconteur Spencer P. Jones died aged 62 on August 21 there was an outpouring of emotion from the Australian music community for a man many considered a trailblazer. 

His storied career overlapped many of the country’s most respected artists like Tex Perkins, Paul Kelly and The Drones’ Gareth Liddiard. 

Another who the New Zealand-born Jones left an undeniable impact upon was Melbourne singer-songwriter Dan Brodie. 

“He was hands down my favourite songwriter and performer in Australia, if not, more than that,” Brodie tells Weekender. 

“That combination of really bittersweet lyrics and intelligent songwriting. 

“Talking about the breadth of genres, he was a guy who could do absolutely anything. He was a really smart guy and very, very talented. 

“I caught up with him about a month before he died and it was a good occasion to say goodbye, but it was very difficult to do that, as it is for anyone.”

Brodie shared the same birthday of October 28 with Jones, albeit separated by 18 years. The two friends also endured similar health battles. 

Brodie underwent 18 months of chemotherapy in 2012 to eventually beat Hodgkin's lymphoma, while Jones died after a long battle with liver cancer. 

There are also similarities in how they approached the music industry’s “game”, by displaying a disregard for following trends and commercial imperatives. 

Brodie famously became a Jones fan after attending the 1992 Big Day Out where he went to see Nirvana, only to be seduced by the dark swamp rock of Beasts Of Bourbon. 

Then in 2014 Brodie, along with Magic Dirt’s Adalita and Kim Salmon performed a Living Legends Series to honour Jones and Charlie Owen. 

Last week Brodie had the opportunity to again honour his mentor by performing with Jones’ former band The Escape Committee at the rocker’s wake. 

“That’s the kind of songwriter and artist I really like because he was quite fearless and had quite a funny take on the world and he would try any style of music,” Brodie says. 

“A lot of people don’t want to do that. They don’t want to upset the cart. 

“He really didn’t give a f--k, and I really don’t give a f--k either. And it’s good to be like that. 

“Maybe your career suffers a little bit for being like that, but at least you’ll die a legend, I suppose.”

Since the late ’90s Brodie has built an esteemed reputation as a hard-working musician’s songwriter. 

While he’s earlier material with The Broken Arrows like the ARIA-nominated album Empty Arms, Broken Hearts followed an alt-country path, Brodie has since branched out into folk, rock, and he’s even working on a dance project called Deceased Estates. 

“Maybe electronic music,” he laughs. “I wouldn’t dance to it, because I don’t dance. 

“It’s probably my love of New Order and Depeche Mode and the stuff I grew up listening to before I discovered Bob Dylan.” 

However, it is Brodie’s role as a forefather in Melbourne’s exploding alt-country scene that led to his involvement in his most immediate project, the Take Me To Town compilation album.

Since the late ’90s Brodie has built an esteemed reputation as a hard-working musician’s songwriter. 

While he’s earlier material with The Broken Arrows like the ARIA-nominated album Empty Arms, Broken Hearts followed an alt-country path, Brodie has since branched out into folk, rock, and he’s even working on a dance project called Deceased Estates. 

“Maybe electronic music,” he laughs. “I wouldn’t dance to it, because I don’t dance. 

“It’s probably my love of New Order and Depeche Mode and the stuff I grew up listening to before I discovered Bob Dylan.” 

However, it is Brodie’s role as a forefather in Melbourne’s exploding alt-country scene that led to his involvement in his most immediate project, the Take Me To Town compilation album.

The 47-track record features the best of Australian alt-country, including Hunter artists William Crighton, Ben Leece and James Thomson & The Strange Pilgrims. 

Brodie has contributed his country-ballad I Ain’t Got Nothing (If I Ain’t Got You), one of three originals that featured on his covers album Lost Not Found released last year. 

“I definitely began in that genre, but I see myself as a songwriter in a broad sense of the word,” he says. 

“Which isn’t to say I don’t like that stuff, I do, but I like a lot of different stuff. 

“When I started doing it [alt-country] in Melbourne there might have been three or four bands doing it. F--k if I knew it was going to be this big, I would have kept wearing my cowboy shirt.” 

Dan Brodie performs at the Take Me To Town launch alongside The Heartache State, James Thomson, Ben Leece & Left of the Dial and Jen Mize at the Stag and Hunter Hotel on October 12.

Abus Dangereux full Interview (English)


Check out the latest issue of French Rock mag  - Abus Dangereux - featuring an in depth Interview by Jean-François Abgrall on Dan's new Album, "Lost Not Found", his experiences touring the world, having dinner with Alex Chilton in Paris, a list of his fave places in France and his top 5 Aussie artists to look out for!

By Jean-François Abgrall 

This evening is the last date of your tour which began in Denmark including Switzerland, Spain and of course France. How took place this long trip through Europe? 

The tour was organised through Hot Pants Touring for most of France and Switzerland, and other promotors took care of Denmark and Spain. 

I saw a lot of France - the Rhone-Alps near Grenoble, Evreux, Aignan in the Midi-Pyrénées, Rennes, Brest, Lorient, Lannion, La Rochelle, Tours, Nimes, Beauvais and of course Paris. 

Most were with a band and the rest were solo/acoustic. Playing solo gigs allows for a lot more shows on the tour than if I was just with a band, so when the tour is being booked I just keep adding shows on and I worry about how many there are and how I will survive when I arrive in France - but it is a lot of work!! 

 It is I believe your sixth or seventh coming in France. You are the most French Australian. Did you have time to perfect your French, to visit nice places and taste the French gastronomy? 

French-Australian - Thankyou very much! :-) I first came to France in 2001 with my brother Chris, and the first night we were taken to a small restaurant in Montmarte by Patrick Mathe (then head of independent label, "Last Call Records") and the next night we played on a pirate ship on the Seine with Chris Bailey (Saints) and Alex Chilton (Big Star) in the audience, and later we all had dinner together with Alex getting into a fight with the waiter over what kind of cheese was in his salad, so yes I have had some very fond memories of France! 

Patrick put us up in a very old hotel  which apparently used to be a former bodello, with very Lynchian red-velvet curtained rooms and a spiral iron staircase, complete with hot chocolate boisson and croissants sent to our room each morning for breakfast  -  it was so different to anything I had experienced in Australia that I was immediately hooked.  France really get the simple things right - bread, cheese, wine, desserts, not to mention the service - and I love food, so touring France is not a difficult choice! 

I speak a little bit of French, enough to say hello, tell people where I am touring and order food and wine, and yes I have visited some very nice parts of France - I love the Rhone -Alps in the south and Morlaix in the north west which is one of the most stunning towns I have ever been to with it's marina and ancient viaduct running through it, there is a lovely venue called Le Gargoyle in Chambon sur Lignon, which is an incredible place, and also the towns of the Midi-Pyrénées which has a really special quality to it, a warm climate with rolling green hills, drenched in golden light. 

You let your widows snivel in Australia to surround you of Vinz and Yann on this tour. How do you have them to recruit and in the end they do not have too much to blubber throughout this trip? 

I met Vinz Guilluy (bass) through a mutual friend when I did a solo tour in 2015 and we got along great and he helped me put a band together for my 2016 tour. This year I am fortunate to have the services of Hot Pants Touring who helped me find Yann Marteil to play drums and Gary from the agency played some guitar with us as well. It was a super band and we shared a lot of really memorable experiences together, but you would have to ask them what they thought of their treatment on the tour, pretty fucking good I reckon! 

You abandoned(gave up) some evenings Vinz and Yann in the bar while you assured(insured) concerts solo. They did not manage to follow the rhythm or it was a deliberate choice from you? 

I love playing solo and with a band as well, but sometimes it's better to just do one thing really well, rather than try and mix them together. They are both very different beasts - solo and band - and when done right can be equally as powerful when performed in the right context and to the right audience. 

You came to defend(forbid) your last album essentially consisted of covers 'Dylan, Iggy Pop, Merle Haggard,Prince) .How did you select them? You play it practically all the instruments? 

Selecting the songs for the album was a mysterious process. Obviously I love the artists I covered but the most important thing was to choose songs of theirs with lyrics that had some resonance with me, that I felt I could offer a new interpretation of, and still sing with conviction. To me the lyrics reflect a period in my life of lienation and feeling very alone. I had just moved into my own space and locked myself away, making little effort to engage with society, probably not very healthy and something I am trying to improve now. So the songs were selected to reflect that and the process felt like just as much work as writing my own songs which at the insistence of my brother, Chris, I eventually did, adding three of my own compositons. I played most of the instruments and recorded and mixed it for the first time in my own home studio, a process I loved and will continue to do. 

This album includes only an Australian cover signed by Stu Spasm whom I know to have raged within the James Baker Experience on "Born to be punched" single. Why this title while we know that you play again on stage for example "Excecution Day" fromThe Beasts odf Bourbon? 

"SWINE" is a cool song by Stu Spasm's late 90s band, CRUNT, and a song I always loved. I didn't expect to cover it for this Album but when I read the lyrics I realised how great they were, a very nasty and malevolent piece of work about prison violence and revenge - right up my alley! In regards to covering something like "Execution Day", I find a lot of Spencer P Jone's music pretty classic and untouchable, I am happy to play the song live but in terms of recording another version, I would prefer to leave greatness alone. 

This album includes also 3 of your compositions, in a darker register of which the sublime " Word of  a drunken man " in an atmosphere Nikki Sudden meets Rowland S . Howard? How did you make up(did compose) these titles? 

For my three original songs, I wanted to continue in the same vein as the cover songs -  introspective and melancholic. The chorus of "Words of a drunken man" was a chorus I had written 10 years earlier which I always liked and for "Lost not found" I wrote all the verses quickly and finished it in one night. Out of all the songs on the album it has had the most resonance with people, so there is definitely something to be said for songs that come like a lightening bolt, very quickly and without too much effort! 

I recently shot a filmclip for "Words of a drunken man" at the Conservatoire Municipal Gabriel Faure in Paris which was a great honour! The clip was made by Frédéric Lemaître and was shot in only two hours on a weeknight when there were no students there. 

"I ain't got nothing" is an old song that I had previously released but I added a new verse to it to add some depth to the story of quite an obsessive love affair. "Slowly come undone" is one I am very proud of, a story of a man at the end of his rope. I pictured a man walking around a city, as his life is falling apart and he is about to explode and cause a lot of destruction to as many people as he can, including himself. This theme - this duality inside us all - this very thin line between keeping our lives together and causing as much damage as we possibly can, is something I have written about a lot over the years and I find it an equally disturbing and facinating subject to think and write about. I love the menace in this song both lyrically and musically and although I didn't perform it on this tour, i hope to bring it to the surface in the coming years. 

You played a lot in Brittany, and not at all in Great Britain, and for a good reason because you signed on the label Beast Records in 2012. How did you meet Seb Blanchais and how did you come to work together? 

I play in Bretagne because the audiences are generally really passionate and appreciative. There is a community of independent music and rock n roll lovers there, of which Seb and Beast are a major part of. Without an infrastructure of music lovers, record stores, labels, promoters, radio etc then it is very difficult to tour because you are always going to be isolated and your shows unsupported. Melbourne has a similar community, as does Austin, Nashville and a handfull of other places around the world. I met Seb through a friend in Australia who suggested he might be interested in my music, and he was. He is a very switched on guy! 

Can you speak to us about your album "Big Hearted Lovin Man" a retrospective of your 15 years of career(quarry) registered(recorded) in the single day? A sacred challenge? 

I recorded my Big Hearted Lovin’ Man Album because I was about to do a solo/acoustic tour Europe and wanted something to sell at shows that reflected my solo performance rather than my more rock n roll band orientated work that was already released. It was recorded very quickly because I didn't have much time, but that can be hard as you have to just let the songs go and leave them alone and not start adding percussion and orchestras to them, which of course I wanted to do! 

We heard about concerts tribute to Spencer P.Jones and Charlie Owen, artists whom we admire here, with Living Legends Series in Melbourne? You can say to us about it more on this event? 

I was invited by a friend of mine in Melbourne, Mary Mihelakos, to perform at the Living Legends Series at the Tote Hotel in Melbourne in 2015. The idea was to pay homage by performing songs of three musicians  - Kim Salmon, Spencer P Jones and Charlie Owen.  on three separate nights, who perhaps had not received the wider acclaim outside of their immediate circle of fans that they should have - although obviously you could argue that their influence outside of Australia, particularly in Europe, has been immense. 

It was a really great weekend, very exciting and emotional in it's own way as different artists played one or two songs to honour of them in whatever way they wanted, as direct covers or their own interpretations. I guess the thing that made it exciting and touching was that usually these nights are a tribute to a deceased artist, but thankfully these three are very much alive and were present in the audience, bearing witness to their own tribute show before they leave us!! I sang "Trick my boat wrong" and "Terrorise your friends" by  Spencer P Jones and to make it more surreal, Spencer was standing in front of me in the audience with dark glasses and a beret on his head, dressed up in disguise as an undercover secret agent - haha! 

 How did Spencer P.Jones came to play on your EP "Run Yourself Ragged"? 

I have known Spencer for 20 years and he had contributed some guitar on my first two Broken Arrows albums. I think we called him up because we were recording "Booze to Blame" for an EP, a song he had co-written with Ian Rilen (Rose Tattoo). But the song he ended up playing on was "Run Yourself Ragged", where he added some really discordant guitar lines to Chris guitar part and the two guitars intertwined worked beautifully together! Although I have never performed that song live, the version we recorded with Spencer is one of my highlights to this day. 

 Just like Spencer you contracted a nasty disease, you totally fought him today? 

Yes, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) in early 2013 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation for almost a year. I remember feeling unwell whilst touring Europe the previous year and had a persistent cough when I was performing at the Binic festival but ofcourse I didn't suspect cancer. I was very fortunate that it was treatable and I so far it has not returned. It was both a terrifying and transformative experience. 

 I know that you occurred in the USA, but also in Argentina and in Brazil. What was the welcome(reception) in Latin America, did you make it beautiful meetings, I went for my part to Brazil, they are very open in the rock, I believe to remember that Hodood Gurus and The Chevelles played it on beaches(ranges) in front of an immense crowd? 

When I began touring I played in North America, in Nashville, Austin, L.A. and New York. I stayed with a friend in New York and hustled gigs, mainly playing solo shows. I was fortunate enough to perform at CBGB before it closed. I got the gig by walking in and asking for one, miraculously they had someone drop out at the last minute and I got a call that afternoon and performed there the next night -  I felt like I had made it in the world of rock n roll, and I couldn't have been happier! 

I stayed in Rio de Janeiro for a long time and loved it, but I think that when you break it down, they really prefer to samba and four-on-the-floor rock n roll is not really their thing. A highlight of playing in Brazil was when I performed in a favela  - alcohol will do amazing things for your confidence! 

It is a privilege to perform in other countries and to audiences whose culture is so different to your own. 

Do you envisage other experiences of this type and to go to play by in example in Africa or in Asia? 

Yes I am happy to play anywhere in the world but obviously some cultures are more receptive than others to one's music, but yeah, I love to travel and play my music - anywhere, any time. 

 Becomes what your brother Chris Brodie, you always play with him in Australia, or is he very busy from his/her part with his various projects? 

Chris and I still work together in Australia, but he has largely retired from performing live, preferring to be involved in the recording process.He is a reclusive man and is not fond of catching planes but we have discussed perhaps a time in the future when he could come back to Europe to tour possibly via a cruise ship as he is partial to that method of transport. 

After this tour you return in Melbourne, what is going to be your on-the-spot current events? 

I think I will need to sleep for a long time after this tour and when I awake I will continue working on music in some form or another. I have a new project, "DECEASED ESTATES" which is a studio based collaboration between myself and various artists I like. 

I have already released a Double A side single - "Out of Control" and Beasts of Bourbon's "Just Right" and will continue to release singles next year.I will also make another album of more traditional song based material, I have not decided what shape or form yet but will let the first few songs dictate the direction in which I travel. 

Can you raise (draw up to) us artists' list of Melbourne or moreover in Australia where you discovered recently? 

Stiff Richards 

Alex Cameron

Closet Straights 

Tropical Fuck Storm 

Holy Serpent

"Beast Feast Focus: Dan Brodie" THE MUSIC (Feb 12, 2016)

Answered by: Dan Brodie

What five words spring to mind when you hear "Oz rock 'n' roll"? Blood, sweat, beer in plastic cups.

Why do you think some Aussie rock bands find more success overseas than on home turf? I think that they are possibly a lot drunker when they are overseas and as a result play a lot better.

What's your favourite Beast release and why? Hits — Living With You Is Killing Me. Lotsa dirt and grime and menace and some great songs to boot!

What to you is the greatest Oz rock song and why? Chase The Dragon — Beasts Of Bourbonbecause it is dark and menacing and makes you want to boogie. I also like Carol (The Peep Tempel) for the same reasons.

What are you most looking forward to about Beast Feast? Playing at The Tote again and hanging out with my compadres, catching some great local and interstate bands and staying up way past my bedtime.

"The Living Legend and the Comeback Kid" THE AGE (July 1st, 2014)

Spencer P Jones doesn’t know quite what to make of Dan Brodie's gift. "That's for playing on my EP," the young gun says as the seasoned rock soldier squints at the book about convicted serial killer Ivan Milat."I tend to read biographies," Jones drawls at last, sliding the tome under his elbow. "It depends. It depends whose fiction it is." He chuckles into his takeaway coffee. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/the-living-legend-and-the-comeback-kid-20140703-zss9v.html


Happily, beloved Australian singer-songwriter Dan Brodie has returned from an extended hiatus following diagnosis and treatment for Hodgkins’ Lymphoma last year. It’s been a hell of a journey, but his reflections are equal parts philosophical, pragmatic and funny, albeit darkly humorous. Brodie plays with a straight bat and he calls it how he sees it. It’s pretty well known that Brodie comes from a musical family – his brother is Chris Brodie and his dad was a muso too. Growing up in that kind of family, Brodie was probably destined to be a musician, but today, he wants to get something straight..... Read more: http://www.beat.com.au/music/dan-brodie