"Here's to the sinners, here's to the saints/ here's to the people I'd like to thank/ if we die tonight that'd be alright/ cos we had one hell of a ride." - Hell Of A Ride - Adam Brand-Travis Meadows

When Adam Brand needed inspiration for songwriting he went back to the well - a hunting cabin owned by late legend Harlan Howard.

The cabin nestles outside Nashville in the shadows of the famed Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Ironically the dry county was a fertile font for writing for Brand and collaborators Travis Meadows and Mark Stephen Jones.

"We went to a log cabin in August last year for a week, just near the old Jack Daniels distillery at Lynchburg," Brand, 39, told Nu Country TV.

"We drank a little during writing but that county is dry. Melanie Howard - the widow of Harlan Howard - owns it. It's a holiday retreat. The family go there - a classic American family cottage. On the wall are stuffed large mouth bass - everything you would expect. There are pictures of Harlan with fish he caught around the fireplace. I took pictures on my mobile phone. If you can't write a song there where can you write one."

The weeklong sojourn - to fuel Brand's eighth album Hell Of A Ride - was fruitful.

"Hell Of A Ride was one of the first we wrote," Brand revealed, "it only took an hour. We were talking about my life being a hell of a ride and Travis looked at me and said let's write that down.

Kissing The Phone also came pretty quick. It came from a phone conversation Travis had with his wife. That came about pretty organically."


Brand wrote most of his disc, produced by Nashville hit maker Richard Landis, on two trips to Guitar Town.

"I was first introduced to Richard by Steve Forde," Brand said.

"He went one step further and sent him some of my demos. We built a relationship. We had meal and really hit it off musically. It happened very quickly as well as he believed in the songs. It happened very organically. I arrived there early in December. The first day in the studio was on December 9 and I flew out of Nashville on January 7. That month also included time off for Christmas and New Year. Richard organised top session players - Paul Franklin on pedal steel and dobro, guitarist Brent Mason and others including Steve Nathan and Jimmy Nichols."


"He was 5 foot 8 inches/ good with his hands/ left part of his childhood in Vietnam." - That's A Man - Adam Brand-Michael Carr-Travis Meadows

Brand wrote three other songs - That's A Man, Yesterday Was Beautiful and Wondering - on a Nashville sojourn in January of 2008.

Those collaborations with Meadows featured a third writer - his Australian peer Michael Carr.

That's A Man featured slices of life of Carr's dad Warren - the legendary Johnny O'Keefe studio-TV musician and ABC-TV Play School icon for 27 years - and Brand's father.

The song eulogises the life of a blue collar Vietnam veteran who passes on wisdom to a son before he is laid to rest.

"It's not literal to the letter," confessed Brand, who has won 12 Golden Guitars.

"But there are things in there that my dad said to me like don't throw the first punch, don't drink too much. It's just passing down that fatherly advice. My dad is still alive so I don't wish that one on him. While writing the song we had all the timelines. This character has a couple of tattoos on his arms and is really tough. My dad is in the car game, sells cars and a spray painter. He's a salt of the earth Australian with a vegetable garden out back. He goes fishing - a man's man. He didn't go to Vietnam but was close to being conscripted. I was born in 1970 when he was 22."


"My granddaddy never went to church/ felt closer to God with his hands in the dirt/ doing hard work, sun on his face/ sweat on his brow/ wind in his hair." - Blue Sky Cathedral - Lunn-Jones.

Brand also found another narrative on a previous Nashville trip.

"It's an alternate look at faith," says Brand who spent his early years at Colac and Wallington, near Geelong, with his mother and stepfather - a pastor.

"It relates especially to Australians living on the land who don't have to go to church to express their faith or whatever it is. It's a beautiful story. I have always wanted to do a gospel album. I had this song up my sleeve for a couple of years now. I had it before I recorded Blame It On Eve. I tucked it away. Recording this album it seemed to fit. I'm really glad we did - something I really love singing. I thought it would have been snapped up by someone else before this. I felt chuffed to find this song."

The writing by Brand and Meadows has attracted interest in the Nashville studios.

"We had a couple of songs on hold in America for other artists," Brand confided.

"But I'm not trying to jinx it by announcing whom."

It's a similar case to showcases for major record labels.

"I'm going back next week for a couple of little showcases in boardrooms, not big ones," Brand said.

"I was asked to come back and sing for them. Richard Landis organised it."


Brand and 2008 Australian of The Year Lee Kernaghan played a bushfire concert at Traralgon on Sunday March 29.

Kernaghan, Brand, Noll Brothers and others performed at the Gippsland Emergency Relief Concert.

And on Saturday April 4 Brand headlines a Whittlesea bushfire benefit concert with fellow Golden Guitarist Catherine Britt.

Ross Buchanan, who lost a son and daughter in the fires, also performs with his band Country Paydirt.

Former Nu Country FM DJ Leslie Avril and Nu Country TV host Mike Brady are among other artists on the concert.

Brand visited Kinglake and Whittlesea after meeting local fans at his Hobart concert on Black Saturday.

"I was doing a show in Hobart and had some people standing in the signing line after the show from Whittlesea," Brand said.

"They came up and said 'we're flying back first thing in the morning." They were not sure if their house was standing or not.

It spun me out. I went back in my room and watched the TV and thought I've got to do something. I phoned Austar, Steve Forde and friends. I thought this is terrible. Out of all that the concert started. I don't know if they lost their house."

Brand volunteered his services away from the TV cameras.

"I spent four days at Whittlesea and Kinglake, just helping out unloading trailers and trucks," Brand confessed.

"I didn't go there publicly. I just felt like I needed to do something, just doing things like lifting boxes and having people crying in your arms. It was terrible. They didn't know what to do. We need to be there for them - not just now, but also in 6 months, 12 months."

ARIA Award winner Troy Cassar-Daley, Kernaghan and Noll played for volunteers and survivors during the fires.

Meanwhile Brand is touring nationally to promote Hell Of A Ride with concerts at Hallam Hotel on April 15 and York On Lilydale on April 17.

Click Here for Tonkgirl's Gig Guide for full details of Adam's tour and the Whittlesea festival.

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