Dan Brodie reflects on Spencer P. Jones' influence on his life and music

HOME MADE: Dan Brodie's 2017 album Lost Not Found was the first record he produced in his bedsit studio.
HOME MADE: Dan Brodie's 2017 album Lost Not Found was the first record he produced in his bedsit studio.

WHEN legendary Beasts Of Bourbon guitarist and raconteur Spencer P. Jones died aged 62 on August 21 there was an outpouring of emotion from the Australian music community for a man many considered a trailblazer.

His storied career overlapped many of the country’s most respected artists like Tex Perkins, Paul Kelly and The Drones’ Gareth Liddiard.

Another who the New Zealand-born Jones left an undeniable impact upon was Melbourne singer-songwriter Dan Brodie.   

“He was hands down my favourite songwriter and performer in Australia, if not, more than that,” Brodie tells Weekender.

“That combination of really bittersweet lyrics and intelligent songwriting.

“Talking about the breadth of genres, he was a guy who could do absolutely anything. He was a really smart guy and very, very talented.

“I caught up with him about a month before he died and it was a good occasion to say goodbye, but it was very difficult to do that, as it is for anyone.”

MENTOR: Spencer P. Jones was Brodie's biggest musical influence.

MENTOR: Spencer P. Jones was Brodie's biggest musical influence.

Brodie shared the same birthday of October 28 with Jones, albeit separated by 18 years. The two friends also endured similar health battles.

Brodie underwent 18 months of chemotherapy in 2012 to eventually beat Hodgkin's lymphoma, while Jones died after a long battle with liver cancer. 

There are also similarities in how they approached the music industry’s “game”, by displaying a disregard for following trends and commercial imperatives.

Brodie famously became a Jones fan after attending the 1992 Big Day Out where he went to see Nirvana, only to be seduced by the dark swamp rock of Beasts Of Bourbon.

Then in 2014 Brodie, along with Magic Dirt’s Adalita and Kim Salmon performed a Living Legends Series to honour Jones and Charlie Owen. 

Last week Brodie had the opportunity to again honour his mentor by performing with Jones’ former band The Escape Committee at the rocker’s wake.

“That’s the kind of songwriter and artist I really like because he was quite fearless and had quite a funny take on the world and he would try any style of music,” Brodie says.

“A lot of people don’t want to do that. They don’t want to upset the cart.

“He really didn’t give a f--k, and I really don’t give a f--k either. And it’s good to be like that.

“Maybe your career suffers a little bit for being like that, but at least you’ll die a legend, I suppose.”

Dan Brodie & The Broken Arrows - Jesus Try and Save Me

Since the late ’90s Brodie has built an esteemed reputation as a hard-working musician’s songwriter.

While he’s earlier material with The Broken Arrows like the ARIA-nominated album Empty Arms, Broken Hearts followed an alt-country path, Brodie has since branched out into folk, rock, and he’s even working on a dance project called Deceased Estates.

“Maybe electronic music,” he laughs. “I wouldn’t dance to it, because I don’t dance.

“It’s probably my love of New Order and Depeche Mode and the stuff I grew up listening to before I discovered Bob Dylan.”

However, it is Brodie’s role as a forefather in Melbourne’s exploding alt-country scene that led to his involvement in his most immediate project, the Take Me To Town compilation album.

ON BOARD: Brodie has been included on the Take Me To Town compilation.

ON BOARD: Brodie has been included on the Take Me To Town compilation.

The 47-track record features the best of Australian alt-country, including Hunter artists William Crighton, Ben Leece and James Thomson & The Strange Pilgrims.

Brodie has contributed his country-ballad I Ain’t Got Nothing (If I Ain’t Got You), one of three originals that featured on his covers album Lost Not Found released last year.

“I definitely began in that genre, but I see myself as a songwriter in a broad sense of the word,” he says. 

“Which isn’t to say I don’t like that stuff, I do, but I like a lot of different stuff.

“When I started doing it [alt-country] in Melbourne there might have been three or four bands doing it. F--k if I knew it was going to be this big, I would have kept wearing my cowboy shirt.”

Dan Brodie performs at the Take Me To Town launch alongside The Heartache State, James Thomson, Ben Leece & Left of the Dial and Jen Mize at the Stag and Hunter Hotel on October 12.