FIFO worker turning country music dreams into reality
WHEN fly-in-fly-out miner Brad Butcher was young, all he wanted to do was play rugby league for Australia.
But things change, and now all he wants to do is make it big in the Australian country music scene, his current Australian house tour and string of award nominations putting him in good stead for achieving this feat.
But gaining momentum and popularity isn't easy for Brad who juggles his job as a workshop maintenance crane operator at Dysart, life as a married man and his music career.
"It's not easy for the seven days I am at work. I've got a window of about an hour to send emails when I finish work or in the morning," Brad says from his Brisbane home.
"It's a very uncreative place to work. It's a tight squeeze as well as home life, moving house etc.
"My main goal is to one day be able to give my job away and make a living off my music. I was given a quote a few years ago that I'm trying to make a reality: 'find your obsession, make it your profession and you'll never work a day in your life'."
The 31-year-old musician from Mackay has certainly found his obsession in producing real, genuine music with lyrics that hit you right in the heart. But, like many successful artists, this passion started as a bit of fun.
"Song writing was a hobby but I didn't take it seriously until my mid-20s. I used to write some silly songs but my friends said I could take it further. My first album was the first 12 songs I've ever recorded," Brad says.
And those 12 songs aren't based on soppy relationship break-ups or trivial matter.
Brad draws from personal experiences to express the beautiful, raw emotion and intensity evident in his tracks, his fresh single Old Man's Gone an example of this.
"For Old Man's Gone, I wrote it for my three-year-old niece when my brother and his ex-wife divorced," he says.
"Another Fall I wrote for my granddad when my nana passed away."
Brad experienced an ordeal of his own which gave him a new lease on life and the drive to make the most of every day.
"When I was in the mines I worked at a rigger crane company. A big train rolled and I dived out of the way and nearly got crushed," he says.
"I certainly believe everything happens for a reason."
Since then Brad has twice been a finalist at the Queensland Music Awards and is currently one of nine finalists for the 2014 CMC New Oz Artist of The Year title.
In total, he's been nominated for 12 awards and is glad his hard work is being recognised.
"It's a constant uphill battle but it's a labour of love. I have been working hard over the past few years to get my music heard and I'm starting to see some nice returns - it keeps the wheels moving and me motivated," he said.
Brad is certainly getting his music heard, with 25 unique house concerts booked around the country for his Old Man's Gone House Tour.
In 2013 I toured Canada, New York and New Jersey and performed at some major festivals on the east coast of Australia.
He has only performed four house concerts in the past, but is looking forward to more relaxed gigs in the comfort of people's homes with just his voice and his guitar perfect for a Sunday arvo wind down.
"I just put out a post on my Facebook to see who would hold it in their home. I didn't do any advertising," he says.
"I can do it in people's backyard. One I did, 20 people sat on chairs and on the kitchen bench because they moved all the furniture out of the house. You couldn't hear a pin drop - it's all about the lyric.
"I get really good feedback and I have a few beers after with the people who own the house."
Brad reckons he's got a "chocka-block" year ahead and he's pumped.
"In 2013 I toured Canada, New York and New Jersey and performed at some major festivals on the east coast of Australia. I went to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which was really good," he says.
Being classed in the 'country music' basket wasn't always Brad's goal, but he is more than happy to play at country festivals that draw huge crowds.
"I don't really aim for country but in Australia if you write story-telling songs then you are put in the category of country," Brad laughs.
"It suits me and I'm from a country town in Mackay so it does make sense to be there."
Brad will perform at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre with a full band on April 27, with tickets already on sale.
He hasn't booked any gigs in Gladstone, but fans of the smooth singer shouldn't give up hope just yet.
Playing at a venue in Gladstone with a full band is also an option, and Brad revealed he's "definitely working on it".
Brad is also working on a second album to be released at the end of the year or early next year. He encourages those who want to succeed in the music industry to strive for the best.
"If it's your passion, go for it - you've only got one life."