Mackay-born singer-songwriter Brad Butcher is turning heads in the country music industry.
Butcher, who has been making music for most of his life, was the winner of the Golden Guitar for New Talent of the Year at the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Awards.
At 35, Butcher’s country music career is only just starting to take off.
He is currently travelling around Australia with the winner of the 2018 Golden Guitar Female Artist of the Year, Aleyce Simmonds, after the two made the decision to join forces to put together the ‘A+B=C(ountry) In Your Town’ tour.
Both Butcher and Simmonds are performing songs from their latest albums on the tour.
But Butcher’s success has been a long time coming and he says his interest in music began at an early age.
“The first door that opened for me with music was through my mum,” he reminisces.
“We had a huge family piano in the house, so I used to hear her playing and then afterwards I would go and imitate the tune I heard her play earlier.”
“I had no idea I was creating notes that were complex; I think that was probably the first time I realised I was able to hear a sound and replicate it through memory.”
Butcher was given his first musical instrument at age 11 and would spend his afternoons listening to CDs and trying to replicate the sounds on his guitar.
He says music was always going to be his first love, but says after finishing high school the pressure of earning an income led him to accept a three-year cabinetmaker apprenticeship.
Butcher spent the next 10 years working as a cabinetmaker.
Then, with the mining industry booming in Central Queensland, he changed professions and spent 12 years working as a crane operator in the mines.
But in 2012, feeling unfulfilled in his job, Butcher took a leap of faith.
He moved to Brisbane in the hopes of pursuing his passion for music.
“My career spring-boarded from purely the fact that I didn’t like what I was doing,” Butcher says.
“I knew how much enjoyment I got from music, so I made the decision to drop everything and make this a full-time job,” he says.
“I knew I had to take away the safety net and if I could make this a job and make a living off creating music, this is all I want to do.”
Butcher says his self-titled and self-published debut album, which was released in 2012, initially struggled to find its feet due to his lack of experience in launching his own brand.
Then, in 2015, he teamed up with Grammy-award-winning producer and songwriter Marc Swersky and recorded his second album, Jamestown, with Shorefire Recording Studios in New Jersey.
But Butcher’s real success has been more recent, with the release of his third album, From the Bottom of a Well, which was published in 2017 by Love Hz Studios.
“It’s like starting a new business; they say the first five years are always the toughest,” Butcher says.
His most popular song from the third album, “Crawl, Beg & Cry”, gained considerable traction with country music fans across Australia, peaking at number four on the iTunes Australia Country Music Charts.
“Some people don’t like country music, and others love it,” Butcher says.
“You just have to find your audience, and I have been incredibly lucky to have radio stations across Queensland wanting to play my music.”
He says for a long time, no one knew “who the hell he was” in the industry.
“It has taken years to break through the barriers and get my name out there, and now, when I tour and play, there are people that know my songs and want to travel to hear me play.”
Butcher says he tries to make his music relatable to his audience by writing from his heart.
“I try to write songs that are real and honest, that mean something to me, and I don’t get the same feeling from a pop song,” he says.
“With country music, there is always a focus on the lyrics.
“The lyrics mould your day to day activities – your family, love and loss.
“I like to write from personal experiences because I believe it when I sing it, and it’s hard to connect with your audience if you don’t understand the song.”
But Butcher says there are struggles in the music industry that he has had to work through.
“Financially, it is tough.”
He says there is more to becoming a musician than having a good voice and a passion for music.
“Being away from home and going to a place you have never been before to win over a crowd… every day you are faced with a brick wall.
“I think it is the feeling that when you do break through that, you are inspired to keep going.”
Once the ‘A+B=C(ountry) In Your Town’ tour wraps up later this month, Butcher says he will continue working on his new album, which he hopes to release next year.
“The direction I’m heading is hoping that I can keep paying the bills, that is all I want to do,” Butcher says.
“This is not a job.”
“It is not work.”
“To me, this is just fun.”