'Taking The Long Way Home'
A seventh generation Floridian, Spady Brannan grew up playing the East Coast club scene from Jacksonville to Miami. He left the shores and sandy beaches of western Florida for the bright lights and nightlife of New York City. After a short stint in the Big Apple, he moved on to LA where the feelin’ was easy and the girls are pretty. In 1974, his musical journey took him to Music City.
“A couple of guys I used to run with in Florida, band buddies of mine, called to tell me they were reforming our old band ‘Peace & Quiet’ in Nashville. I told them I was in and within a week I was here.” Renowned studio musicians and producers as we know them today made up the reconfigured rock group “Peace & Quiet” featuring Spady Brannan, Biff Watson (Acoustic Session player who has appeared on recordings for Toby Keith, Shania Twain, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood among others) Chris Leuzinger (Garth Brooks), and Garth Fundis of Don Williams, Keith Whitley, Trisha Yearwood, Sugarland fame.
Now with a new album just out in the stores, The Long Way Around and Other Short Stories, we sat down with the man himself to learn more about the musical icon to so many.
You've been in the industry for quite some time. Are you today where you wanted to be from when you first saw the Curtis Brothers for the first time? "When I first saw the Curtis Brothers, all I knew is where I wanted to be – that was that I just wanted to be able to make music. Today, I feel quite comfortable where I have wound up. It has been quite an amazing journey and I don’t think I would change anything about how it has unfolded."
Your music has allowed you to see the world. You've visited some exotic places, been around the world multiple times and have some great stories. What was your worst setup and lead time to a show and how does that affect your performance on stage (if at all)? "We were in Canada. It was August but we were not scheduled to go on until after sun set. The temp dropped real fast and just before the set started, I was checking my tune. I pulled on my G-string because it was a little sharp and it broke - I had no spare. (I had never broken a string before or since.) I had no choice but to do the show with 3 strings. To say the least, it was a bit stressful at the time but I made it through and today I still get a good laugh about it."
Is it intimidating at sharing your music with artists you have played for in the past and looked up to? How so? (or why not?) "I’ve never felt intimidated playing my music for an artist that I respect because I was usually trying to get them to listen to my songs with the hope they might want to cut some of my material. …And sometimes they did; sometimes they didn’t but. I always thought all of us in the industry were on a level playing field and I guess that comes from being surrounded by a wealth of great talent on a daily basis for so long."
Out of all the artists that you've performed with or written chart-toppers for (Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, etc.), can you "pick" a favorite or best experience and why? "For me the best experience was my very first cut because it was with Roy Orbison. I was so elated I gave away my publishing rights which goes to show how little I knew about the business at the time. I still have no regrets though."
Standard Question - Which album that you've played on is your favorite? It could be in the making of it, how the final product sounds, any reason at all, but which is your favorite and why? "This is a no brainier. It would have to be my new solo CD simply because it was what I set out to do when I first came to Nashville. I wrote it, sang it, played on it and produced it. How could that not be the best feeling of all?"
How did you get the nickname Spady? What made you decide to keep it as your "stage name" if you will (as opposed to Richard)? "The nickname “SPADY” came from Sam Spade who was portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese Falcon, as well as a very popular radio show portrayed by Howard Duff. Spady is all I’ve ever been called as long as I can remember. I don’t think I decided to keep it as much as it decided to keep me."
Do you keep in contact with your close friends? Or are all your close friends now those individuals with whom you play in the studio or your band? Is it difficult staying in contact on the road so often? "I would have to say the majority of my closest friends are my studio buds because I spend so much of my time with these guys in rooms with no window--all working toward the same creative end…and there’s a bonding that takes place during the making of records that makes each project either special or just ordinary. I liken it to be like playing on a winning pro sports team, the teams that develop that special chemistry together always seem to do the best…and with the cell phone it’s easy to stay in touch when I’m on the road."
While you're on a tour, do you feel like you have enough time to practice. Do you need a practice or a warm up? Or is it pick up and play? Do you normally get a sound check before each show? (I would imagine that you would have to setup to get a real rehersal going but if you've gotta travel from place to place quickly, do you schedule time for that or not usually?) "I’ve always got at least a guitar in my room to keep the fingers working. I don’t know that I think of it as “practice” any more; it’s more like trying to learn something new each day. You don’t get to be a studio musician without being a great technician. When I say ‘learn something new,’ I’m referring to new variations. Simply put there are no new notes, it’s all about how you string your notes together. That’s where the personality of each player comes into play."
Can you tell us about your songwriting process. Do you sit down and write when the moment or thought hits you? Or do you contemplate a song idea and work with a progressive idea? Is it something that you're conscious of or do good song ideas and melodies come to you spur of the moment? "I feel like I’ve come full circle with this record. This is what I came here to do so long ago but ‘life’ just got in the way. Now I’ve been given a second chance to do what I originally wanted to do. And I’m completely open to wherever the experience takes me. I already have a second record written and look forward to getting into the studio with that project. What’s left for me to do? ….Anything and everything musical!"
An A-list Musician and now an independent artist, what possible aspirations could you have for the future? What do you feel like there is left for Spady Brannan to do? "I used to write every day. (That seemed to be the norm here for writers.) After you’ve had some success with and feel comfortable with your craft, it becomes more of a Quality over Quantity issue. At least it’s been that way for me. I’m at a point as a writer, and it might sound strange, where songs seem to find me rather than having to dig them out and each one is different. When you start trusting your gut, good stuff comes out and all you have to do is be willing to share that experience with others."
"Thanks for listening I hope you enjoy the music. Peace and God bless, Spady."
Interviewed by Brian J. Hong
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Spady's new CD, just answer this easy question: As you know from above, his nickame “SPADY” came from Sam Spade who was portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in the 'Maltese Falcon.' In that very same movie, Private eye Spade and his partner Miles Archer are approached by Brigid O'Shaughnessy (who is using a pseudonym at the time) to follow a man who allegedly ran off with her younger sister. What was the pseudonym she was using?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 1st with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: SPADY BRANNAN SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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