Music interviews

Interview with Adam Eckersley & Brooke McClymont.

Adam Eckersley and Brooke McClymont have affectionately been described as a whole lot of country on their debut album. But make no mistake this husband and wife team are artists in their own right, Eckersley, a two time Golden Guitar Award winner and McClymont, one third of the top selling, multi-award winning trio The McClymonts, whom have wooed Australian country fans and critics for more than a decade. Riding off the success of their respective careers and experience, they of course felt that the time was right to self-produce a 10-track debut that showcased their strength and love for each other and their music.

Train Wreck was released as their lead single late last year, followed closely by the albums release in February 2018. Coinciding with the release of the album, an epic five-month Highway Sky Tour was scheduled that would see them hit cities and towns across Australia. Now smack in the middle of their tour, I find myself fortunate enough to catch up, with two of the most down to earth individuals in country music.  Here is some of what we talked about.

I think I read that you joked about recording an album together was something you planned in your 50’s? But the release of your new album Adam & Brooke recently seems like it has definitely come at a more fortuitous time? 

It wasn’t so much that we’d planned to record together in our 50s, we just didn’t think we’d get a chance before then, we’ve always spoke about wanting to do something together, but over the last 10 years our individual projects have taken all of our time, but then Brooke’s sisters started having babies at a rapid rate which meant the McClymonts were going to be quiet for a little while, that’s when Brooke and I, almost surprisingly, realised we had an opportunity to do something now, and we’re so glad we’ve had the time to do it, it has been a great project to work on for both of us and it’s something creatively different for both of us too which just makes for an interesting time.

Taking the reigns of self-producing the album seems like a no-brainer with your combined talents. I understand you did it in a little over a month?  Did you run into any difficulties along the way? 

Basically from the time we decided to record together until we completed the album was about 5 and a half weeks, the actual record itself only took 6 and a half days in the studio, but we also did 3 days of pre-production with the band at our house before we went to the studio, so when we got into the studio everyone pretty much knew what they had to do and did it, it was a really fun record to make, and we didn’t run into any problems, we had no idea if producing it together would work or lead to us bunting heads, but it was great fun.

It certainly seems like family and music go hand in hand. What can you tell me about your collaboration that might be surprising? For instance, did you learn something new about each other?

There is a strong family/relationship theme to our music because that is what we’re living, and that was the common theme we could both write and sing about and we wanted this record to be as honest as possible. The main thing that we learnt throughout this process was how well we worked together, we knew we both had a lot of respect for each other creatively but that didn’t necessarily mean we’d work together well, but we did, we both seemed to compliment each other, where one of us was strong in a particular area the other would step back and let them fly.

This is a very country record that feels somewhat personal but still quite relatable to, especially for the listener. I love that Brook has bought her melodic sensibilities to it and Adam you have stayed true to your strengths as a musician. As two strong-willed artists, were you ever worried that your collaboration might go pear-shaped, so to speak?

We really wanted to make a more old school country record, it was the middle ground between Brooke’s more pop country sound with The McClymonts and my more southern rock sound with AEB, both of us love the older style country, no bells and whistles, just a band playing songs. We did wonder at the start if the middle ground would be easy to find or if it would be out of reach and go pear shaped, but it become clear pretty early in the process that it wasn’t an issue, we both felt really comfortable where it ended up, we’ve written together for years and have a good flow when it comes to that, generally speaking Brooke comes up with killer melodies and I love sinking my teeth into a lyric, so we kind of compliment each other in that sense.

Your lead single Train Wreck is arguably one of the most telling songs of the album about love. I understand it was a song Adam co-wrote a few years ago. What was the inspiration behind it and how does it work now for this album?

At the time I wrote Train Wreck with James House, Brooke and I had been spending a heap of time apart due to busy touring, sometimes months apart on the opposite sides of the world, it was rather taxing on our relationship and there was always a risk that it may result in our demise as a couple, but it was worth the risk because we were having so much fun doing what we were doing and neither of us wanted to change it because that would have meant missing out on all the awesome craziness of being a travelling musician.

My dad played Johnny Cash all the time when I was a kid. For the most part I ignored it and rediscovered country and Cash much later as an adult. That said, country as a genre is something that sits to a certain extent outside my comfort zone. But despite that I still find it compelling and often rewarding. Your album is no different, as it takes a peculiar look at love, relationships and other topical issues we can all relate to. Was that intentional or something that was born out of the songwriting process?

I think, just like any genre of music there’s some artists and songs that connect more than others, but I do think over all, good country music does it really well, at the core, the songs are about regular people navigating through life, we certainly aimed to relate to people through our songs on this album, we just tried to write an honest album about things we’ve experienced and things we’ve witnessed, and we figured if we were experiencing those things, there’s a fair chance that other people are going through similar things and could relate.

I read once that “country music is the story of America set in song”. How different is that here (in Australia) given that we are influenced by our love for things like southern R&B and Nashville. Do we have our own country music identity? How much is your music a reflection of home and an influence of Nashville?

I think regardless what musical direction anyone from Australia takes, we will always be heavily influenced by either American or English or Irish music, basically because we’re a young country and those other countries had already started the foundation of a lot of what is modern music today, that said, I think the world in general is so small now with the internet that it’s really hard to determine a geographical identity with any music, I know from our point of view we have both listened to a lot of music that has come out of Nashville over the years, but the music that is coming out of Nashville today is totally different to what we were listening to, we have both also listened to a lot of rock and blues and pop music from all over the world, so when it’s time to write an album, all those influences dance around in your head until they get mixed together like different coloured paint, at first you can see the different colours but eventually it makes a brand new colour that belongs to you.

You are in the middle of The Highway Sky Tour. How have the new songs been received by fans?

 It has been a real pleasure to play these songs live, and people seem to really like them live, people have shared stories with us about how they’ve connected with a song and how it relates to their lives, there’s been some tears, there’s been some laughter and we couldn’t be happier with the response.

Which one song from the album gives you goose bumps when you play it? Can you elaborate a little as to why it resonates with you so much?

It really depends on the mood I’m in, but I do really like listening to Nothing Left To Win, and also Not How I Feel, I’m not too sure why with either, I just like them each time I hear them.

Finally, and I say this a little tongue-in-cheek, which of the two of you, likes to steal the limelight during a show?

Haha it’s great working together, because if one of us are a little flat on a night, the other can pick up the slack until the flat one pumps up, it’s a pretty cruisy show and both of us get a chance to put ourselves out there, if anything, we both try to shine the limelight on each other because we’re massive fans of what we each do.

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Download or stream Adam & Brooke’s album here. You can also connect with Adam & Brooke via their Facebook page. Follow them on Instagram. You can also connect with Adam Eckersley via his website and Brooke McClymont via The McClymonts website.
For tickets and touring information on Adam & Brooke’s remaining The Highway Sky Tour click HERE.

Photo credits: The header image of Adam & Brooke is couresy of PR group Revolution per minute. I am not the uplodaer of You Tube clips embedded here.

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