There is a lyric in a 1979 song from Tom Petty that declares, ‘Baby even the losers get lucky sometimes.’ For all intents and purposes and in the context of that quote, Canadian country star Dean Brody is one heck of a loser. But rather than relying on luck, it was talent and determination that brought him to where he is today.
This past September, Brody walked away from the Canadian Country Music Association Awards with trophies for male artist of the year and album of the year under his arm for his 2012 record DIRT , his third record. The album debut in the No. 1 position on the Canadian country music charts, and the first single ‘Canadian Girls’ quickly attained Gold selling status. That’s in addition to five other Top 10 singles in Canada.
Of the 25 dates on Brody’s cross-country tour, all but a few are sell-outs. That includes Brody’s stop at the Capitol Theatre on tomorrow night.
Going from struggling songwriter to bona fide country star was no over night accident. In fact, the odds were stacked against Brody at one point in his career.
He signed a publishing contract early in his career, but his first record contract was with American company Broken Bow Records. Despite his debut cracking the Top 25 in the United States and the Top 10 in Canada, Brody soon found himself at odds with the label.
‘Broken Bow had essentially issued me an ultimatum that I sign a management contract with people of their choosing,’ Brody tells the Times & Transcript. ‘I don’t quite understand the reason why, but it soon became a struggle of wills. They were threatening to withhold funds from my publishing deal; it was just a crazy time. I asked to be released from my contract and when they finally let me go, it had more-or-less forced me out of the United States.’ Rather than returning to Jaffray, B.C., where he grew up, he and his family ended up settling down on the south shore of Nova Scotia to begin the process of rebooting his music career. And what a reboot it was.
Brody signed on with Canadian country label Open Road Recordings, also home to Canadian acts Doc Walker and Emerson Drive. Trail In Life , his first record for the label, yielded four top 10 singles, won three 2011 CCMA Awards and garnered a Juno nomination for country album of the year. Brody finished 2011 as the most played Canadian country artist of the year on Canadian radio.
Talk about having the last laugh on his former label.
Dirt has undoubtedly served as an evolution of sorts, both in terms of popularity as well as Brody staying true to his beliefs. While he unquestionably fits the country music mould well, he says he was exposed to everything from Rita MacNeil to Rush while growing up.
‘I had a lot of different musical influences when I was growing up. There was never one specific genre that influenced me more than any other; I loved different styles of music. I always have.
‘When I was 14 years old, me and some friends started a garage band. We jammed on weekends and played everything from AC/DC and Jeff Healey through to Pink Floyd. It was a real mixed bag of music,’ Brody says, laughing.
‘I really found that I could relate to what people were singing about in country music, plus I found that my vocals always tended to lend themselves towards country music more so than any other style. What really drew me into country music though was Dwight Yoakam. When I heard him, I immediately knew that he wasn’t your typical kind of country musician; I really thought that was cool.’
Brody didn’t set out to be a country music star. He began his career as a songwriter, landing his first publishing deal in 2004. He relocated to Nashville, pitching his songs to others with little success.
‘It turned out that nobody wanted my songs,’ he quips. ‘So I decided that I might as well start recording them.’ When talk turns to the runaway success of his current cross-country tour, his first as a headlining act, Brody seems almost overwhelmed at the prospect of having so many shows sold out in advance.
‘I feel incredibly responsible for people having a good time at the show,’ he says. ‘I want the people coming to the show to leave with good memories. And hopefully, they do.’
Article published in the February 18, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript