Troy Cassar-Daley has had one mammoth year! Continuing the success of his 2016 release, Things I Carry Around and the autobiographical book of the same name; he took home the Golden Guitar for Album of the Year and was named the 50th inductee into the Australian Country Music Roll of Renown, Australian Country Music’s highest honour. And with over 20 years in the industry, he’s now about to headline alongside one of the band’s he used to open for at the Broadbeach Country Music Festival.
You’re playing at Broadbeach Country Music Festival on July 28th-30th, 2017. What makes the festival so special and unique?
The best thing is – it’s free. It’s got something special going on there. They set this festival up so that it’s accessible for everyone. It’s really important to show everyone where country music is. You can see the whole broad spectrum of where the genre sits. I’m very excited, not only to be a part of that, but it gives people a good introduction of our music. If you’re going to get people to come along, and experiment with your music and with our genre; if it’s free, what a great way to get people to a show to start with!
America are on – they’re the headliners of the whole thing! – I supported them back in 1998, if you believe it or not. It was a long time ago supporting them as a young bloke and now we get to be on the bill all that time later! I started out in a covers band; opening up for them. You had to supply two of your band to load their gear in and another two of your band to load it out after the show – that was how rough it was when you were a support act in my day (laughs). To see them again and have found memories of opening up for them when I was very, very young. It really makes you appreciate the journey.
If you get the opportunity, will you remind America you opened for them?
Yeah, if I get to talk to them … I might even show them the paper clipping I’ve got somewhere. The local paper had me listed as “Tony Cassar-Daley” – they didn’t even get my name right – which was very funny! It was a great memory and a wonderful experience to open up the show, go backstage to look at all their guitars and then get yelled at to lift all those big boxes on the way out. (Laughs) We were riding on a high! It didn’t matter how many boxes we had to lift. We were young and fit, we didn’t care. It was one of the really early breaks that we got in our career.
I’m excited to see them again because after that particular support thing we did with them, we ended up playing about five of their songs in our set – we were so overcome with how brilliant they were! (Laughs) I still sit down with my daughter and play “Ventura Highway” on the piano and guitar. That’s the sort of effect these shows have on people. That’s why they’re important. These sorts of experiences, they really do inspire you. You don’t realise at the time. At the time, you’re in a whirlwind and you’re all excited, but you are getting inspired.
Many older bands and artists have been/will be touring Australia. We’ve been spoilt by choice with Daryl Braithwaite, Richard Marx and John Farnham, for example, and now, of course, America, it’s almost like retro is becoming “cool” again.
I get blown away by it! The amount of young people at Don Henley the last time I went out to see him was just phenomenal. They were all singing along! Of course, they’ve listened to their parent’s record collection – that’s what it’s all about – but they knew every bloody word! That to me is when you know music is great because it’s jumped to the next generation and they love it as much. We’ve all been affected [by particular music and songs] and makes you love your job even more. I felt itchy to play because I feel left out when I hear other people playing. I really want to get up there and have a jam with them. (Laughs)
Will you be bringing any surprises out at Broadbeach?
I’m doing two shows. I’m doing my normal show, but I’m also doing a second set called “Tex Dubbo” of old country stuff like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and stuff. We’ve got an amazing band for that as well! There’s going to be lots of entertainment everywhere!
Kasey Chambers, the Wolfe Brothers, Sara Storer, Shane Nicholson, Travis Collins, Drew McAlister … the list goes on and on of how amazing artists will be performing alongside you at the festival. Are you planning on bringing any of the artists on stage to join in a number?
I said to Kasey, “You can bet your boots we’ll be getting up on each other’s shows!” It’s always fun to be able to see each other again. When you’re real genuine friends, it makes it natural when you get a chance to sing with each other.
Are you hoping to catch any of the other artists performing as well?
Yeah, I’ll be making the most of getting around because it’s easy to see and free, of course, as well, which is even better! It’s great for people to be able to come along and enjoy the music. There’s great restaurants around the same area where we’re staying. I’m looking forward to going and frequenting some of those as well.
I hope some of the younger generation get around to looking at some of these artists. The amount of little girls you hear singing a Kasey Chambers’ song on the streets of Tamworth. You hear them singing “The Captain” or “Pony” and you go, “Kasey has inspired these kids.” It’s an important part of your musical journey when you’ve got heroes and I’m really proud to be able to see the way that people have inspired me and hopefully you can inspire others on your way through.
Last time we spoke you were just about start your Things I Carry Around tour, which combined the album and autobiographical book together sharing songs and stories in quite an intimate show. In comparison to these larger festivals which will be very happy energy, large numbers etc, do you have to come out all guns blazing during shows like Broadbeach?
Very much so; they’re very different. Things I Carry Around is very intimate at the moment. We’re sitting on a lounge chair. Almost like you’re sitting in a lounge room with the audience and that’s been a really special thing to do. But with Broadbeach, you really have to make sure you get a lot more of the songs you had that are well known over the years. You throw them together and a couple of the covers are always important to have in there as well. I’m very much looking forward to doing all the facets of playing this show this year. We’ll be playing a mixture of stuff to get people jumping.
With the Things I Carry Around tour coming to an end, how has it been touring such a unique tour with the album and book in tow?
It was a wonderful tour and a really traditional record – it’s a bit different but it’s got lots of stories in it. I had to tell a lot of the stories from the book in song. It’s a hard thing to do – to try and make it match up. If you’ve gotten up to mischief with Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard and it’s a unique story to you, you’ve got to talk about it. There’s also parts of the people have been a big influence on your life. When I wrote a song for this record, I tried to acknowledge what I was going through on the journey. It was really wonderful to have that as part of writing the book too. I hope it makes some of the stories make a bit of sense as well – that was the whole reason for doing that as well. It was a tough year. My wife and I had some struggles with the amount of work I’d thrown upon myself, [but] it’s been really good to be able to put it together.
The tour started out on the North Coast of New South Wales, so I felt like I was starting at home. Then you’ve got this really good cohesion between the players and getting the songs to settle. I’ve just listened to a few of the live things we’ve done and it just really feels like a comfortable environment. It feels like you’re making people feel really welcome. My goal was to make people feel like they were with us, spending a whole day with us, almost in our house, and the show feels like that, and visually it looks like that as well. It’s been wonderful to be able to do that. I felt like having the book as an inspiration to put the tour together has been a really big help.
You’ve had quite an eventful year as well. What have been your highlights?
Getting the book out and touring that was fantastic. I really loved that. Getting a Golden Guitar [Award] in Tamworth for ‘Album of the Year’ was a wonderful acknowledgment to what [I] do. Then the ‘Roll of Renown’ [Award], which I didn’t expect either, something you carry with you for a long time and tell your grand kids about. I’ll take ‘em down to that rock one day and say, “Here’s where Poppy’s plaque is on the rock,” and I’ll get a big kick out of that one day. Those things you just don’t forget. I was so proud to have my kid’s there with me [to accept the award], and my wife to share the moment with me as well. To be able to be acknowledged like that was something that wasn’t expected. I was very overwhelmed but that’s how you go. To be able to start your 2017 off like, that was phenomenal.
Troy Cassar-Daley performs at Broadbeach Country Music Festival (July 28th-30th).