Brett Spaulding Review and Interview
Artist: Brett Spaulding
Album: Breakless Heart
Brett Spaulding is a Calgary based artist that was awarded "Guitar Player of The Year" by the Calgary Blues Musician Association in 2015. It is clear that his music is all about the song first on this six song EP, which clocks in at just over 25 minutes. His vocals are naturally raspy and relaxed. The songs are well put together and the production is warm. The songs are catchy and performed impeccably.
The record kicks off with an acoustic guitar on a track titled One In The Head. It steadily builds into a full production with a memorable chorus. The production is warm, making me wonder if this album was tracked to tape instead of digitally. Brett's voice is just so relaxed and easy to listen to without ever losing the push of a rock and roll singer.
The next track Love Let In is reminiscent of 70's era Stones mixed with early 80's pop, reminding me of something that maybe The Greg Kihn Band would have recorded. The instrumental outro shows some well seasoned players that are stretching a bit without overstepping, but playing just enough to be heard for the talented musicians they are.
The title track Breakless Heart brings so many influences together with a well layered production. It has a John Mayer quality to it, but something else as well that I can't quite put my finger on. The mix of acoustic and electric guitars on this track is done perfectly, creating some deep dynamics. This is a song that feels like it would be right at home on the first Wallflowers album.
My favorite track on the album is Weaponized Love. This song has it all to this writer's ears. A cool guitar line, driving and slippery drums, a great title and a perfect tempo. It reminds me of the absolute best of Eddie Money's work. The pre chorus has a dynamic drop that sets up a fantastic chorus. Again the guitars are layered wonderfully and the band is shining without interfering. The vocals are emotive and the pocket is deep. It is a dynamic roller coaster ride that leaves me wanting more. On a scale of 1-10, I would give this track a 12. It is a masterclass in great rock songwriting and performance. I love this song!
One of the cooler things about this album is how it feels familiar but unique simultaneously . The songs are well crafted and soulful. It is not a reinvention of rock music by any means, but really well done, which I mean as a compliment. It is well composed without feeling contrived or forced. The band has a clear chemistry and feel for the songs that brings this well produced effort to life. I hear Bowie-like qualities in the sense that the influences are quite broad without ever leaving the feel of a straight rock band. The songs and vocals are the clear focal point of this album, supported wonderfully by very competent musicians. If you like straight rock bands that can "rock" without flirting with heavy, have catchy hooks and a Beatles sense of melody I think you will enjoy this album. Who doesn't like all those things in a rock band?
Check out the interview as well....
Tell us the brief history of your band or musical career.
I started writing songs on guitar when I was really young, like 7 or 8. Parents were always playing Clapton, The Stones and Beatles etc etc. Played drums for a bit in high school and then I saw John Mayer play in 03 and that inspired me to start writing and playing guitar again. Found Stevie Ray Vaughnthrough Mayer, and that opened me up to the world of blues. I started going to local jams etc and tried to gig anywhere that would let me. Eventually I met Brent Wright, who is a great Canadian guitar player and singer. I studied, gigged and lived with him for years. Great lessons. I was mostly working as a sideman, and mostly just thinking about my solo project until covid hit. As hard as it was, it gave me time to write and record all day, everyday. The “Breakless Heart” Ep is the first handful of songs from that period.
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
I love a lot of different music. The Beatles, Stones, Clapton, SRV, Robben Ford, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, John Mayer. The list can get pretty long. As far as non-musical influences, I would have to say mostly family and friends are the most directly influencing people and I’ve managed to surround myself with good friends and my family is great. Stephen Pressfield’s book “The War of Art” was a large influence. Reading Eckhart Tolle really changed my perspective on things for the better.
What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?
This is a hard question to answer. I usually obsess over one artist at a time, which can last months until I move on. If I had to pinpoint, probably the blue and red Beatles collections. That was my entry point to The Beatles and have learned a lot about song writing and arrangement from them.
Is there a particular song that has resonated with you for a long time?
Again, it’s impossible to pick one, but The Beatles “Two of us” is the first thing that popped into my mind.
What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far?
Just that I’ve been able to make somewhat of a living and that I’ve been able to keep doing it.
Tell me about your favorite performance in your career.
There is more than a few cool ones, but one that stands out is Pembina Festival in Alberta, Canada. I was playing guitar with The Mike Clark Band. We had the perfect slot as this unbelievable sunset was happening, with thousands of hands in the air and the band was firing on all cylinders, having one of those particularly great nights.
What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
Just keep playing no matter what. Write everyday. Be disciplined.
What's new in the recording of your music?
I don’t know if it’s new, but we’ve been home recording for a long time, and I’m very proud of the fact my writing/producing partner Chad Holtzman and I have managed to get pretty good at it. He’s turned into an awesome engineer.
How has your music changed over the years?
I’m finding who I am as an artist more and more all the time. The more I write, the closer I get to finding my own unique “voice”. I’ve realized how hard it is to make really good music, so over time there has been more care taken in finding the best thing for the song.
What inspires you to write the music you write?
I don’t really know. I just write. Whether I’m inspired or not, I try to write everyday and hopefully I get something I like. If not I may have to write 10 more, I don’t like to get one I do. I guess as far as subject matter I take loosely from past experiences, or try to comment on something going on in the world. I heard Tom Petty once say he doesn’t try to figure it out for fear of it going away. I kind of feel that way. I just love to write and want to keep doing it.
What made you want to play the instrument you play?
There are pictures of me as a 2-year-old with toy guitars, so I can’t remember a time without guitar. My stepdad is also a songwriter, so they were in the house all the time. As far as getting serious about playing, it would probably be seeing Mayer in 03. It just hit me so hard that this is exactly what I should be doing.
How does your latest album differ from any of your others in the past?
The first album I put out in 2018 was basically a collection of songs I had sitting around over the years I just wanted to get done. This one I worked a lot harder on and wrote everything within a year and a half time span. I think its closer to the music I want to make.
How are you continuing to grow musically?
I still always play with different people who challenge me. I also practice all the time and check out new stuff on YouTube etc. Hearing new stuff always makes you grow. I try to never be too comfortable in what I’m doing. If I’ve gotten comfortable, its time to try something new.
Are there any musicians who inspire you that are not famous? What qualities do you admire about them?
Ariel Posen. I love his playing and singing, and his songs are great too. I really admire how unique he sounds on guitar and his mastery of the instrument. I really wish I could play slide like that!
Describe your worst performance. What did you learn from this experience?
There are a million things that can go wrong. Early on these things can totally surprise you and screw up the whole gig. However, those experiences are necessary for you to eventually feel 100% comfortable on stage. So, although I can’t recall a specific worst performance, I did have to learn a lot of embarrassing lessons onstage when I first started out.
If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be?
That artists get paid more for streaming.
What are your biggest obstacles as a musician?
What do you think the best aspects of the music business are?
The community of musicians you get to know and hang out with. Run into at festivals etc etc.
What strengths do you have that you believe make you the musician you are?
I work hard and I’m pretty good at analyzing what I need to work on. It never ends.
Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician.
I love being in the studio and I love playing live for different reasons. My least favourite part is you’re always working on the weekends, so you don’t end up having much of a social life aside from people you play with. Which is also good, but I’ve lost touch with a lot of friends over the years just because I can’t show up to whatever event because I’m playing. I also don’t love the business side of things, but it’s necessary.
Do you have any anxiety about performing live?
If you had to choose one... live performance or studio work, which do you prefer and why?
The studio is more creative, so if I had to choose, I would pick being in the studio working on songs. I also love to play live and improvisation is a different form of creativity. The control you have in the studio is great though. At the end of the day I need them both!
What do you think about online music sharing?
I think it’s a double-edged sword. Someone told me one time that before the internet and music sharing the music industry was like big double doors you knock on over and over again and when the doors open there is 10 other people in the room. Nowadays, the doors are wide open but there’s a million people in the room. No gate keepers anymore but harder to get above the noise. But all in all I think online music sharing is a positive.
Describe your creative process when you write new music.
Usually, I’ll have some close to finished songs I will demo in my little home studio set up. Then take those to my creative partner Chad, to bounce off of. We then massage them in his studio.
Other than being a musician, what was your dream job growing up?
When I was really young, I wanted to be a professional hockey player. That dreamed died as I grew up and realized I would never be good enough! Lol
Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry.
Focus on your craft more than social media and your look etc. That needs to be taken care of too, but if there aren’t good tunes with good performance at the base of it, the other stuff only goes so far. Just keep playing and be disciplined.
What is your favorite piece of gear and why?
This is always changing as the hunt for tone never ends. But right now, I’m loving playing through this Princeton amp I got recently. Sounds great. I just added a BB preamp to my pedal board. I’m loving that so far. I also just got one of the PRS Silversky’s. Its an incredible guitar. And I have a Japanese Strat from the mid 80’s I love as well.
How do you prepare for your performances and recording work?
Just by shedding the tunes over and over until they’re second nature.
What does your practice routine consist of?
I have a regimen I do on guitar everyday. It keeps me in shape when I don’t have time to practice. But usually transcribing songs and solos especially. Last ones I learned were Robben Ford Ttalk To Your Daughter”, “Revelation” and “Prison of Love”. Also John Scofield’s “Chank”. But a lot of times, I just figure out puzzles on guitar. Work what I’ve figured out into my playing.
What do you like most about your new album?
All the songs are all songs I like. And I think it’s sonically very good as well.
What artists do you enjoy listening to nowadays?
Lately I’ve been listening to Elton John. Mostly “Madman Across The Water”. Love the tune “Levon”. Before that I was revisiting The Band, mostly the brown album.
How do you promote your band and shows?
Social media is a large part. Radio. Posters. Word of mouth.
What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc.
Follow me on Instagram @brettspauldingmusic or go to www.brettspauldingmusic.com
Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums?
Just follow me on Instagram for tour dates in the spring/summer. Just starting to book now, so it will be announced as soon as everything is solid.
What's next for your band?
Right now, we’re working on another album. Just started recording it in December. We have some local gigs to do, and we will be getting on the road in the spring/summer.
What are your interests outside of music?
My girlfriend and I have 2 dogs, one of which is a puppy, so that takes a lot of time up right now. I like to travel, workout, play cards, darts, and I love comedy…Not a lot of time for outside hobbies, but I try to keep some sort of a balance.
Anything Else You Would Like to Include?
Nope – just thanks for the support and for listening. Hopefully, I can see some of you face to face at a show soon!