Interview: Darrin Bradbury on his first album with Anti, his writing approach and touring Europe for the first time since
“Bummer rock”. It’s something I realize I’ve become a little more familiarized with this year more then in the past but to be perfectly honest, I’m fully here for it. It’s something that has always been there but we’re finally in a time where it’s not something people feel they have to hide. Wearing your heart on your sleeve is something I can fully get behind. The latest in that, Darrin Bradbury and Cory Branan, who I got the pleasure to talk to while they were in Boston on tour together about two weeks ago. It wasn’t your typical interview layout, both guys sitting at the table while interviewing the other. “Can we keep this casual,” being the first words out of Bradbury’s mouth and it stayed true to that.
It was just a conversation over a cup of black coffee or two where Bradbury opened up about his fears of touring, the scary situation involving a blood clot that gave him a needed wake up call and how he approaches songwriting. Find our chat below and keep your eyes out for my chat with Cory Branan as well, coming later this week. For now, if you are in the UK/Europe regions, catch this talented guy if you can.
Then to get right into it, your dates with Cory Branan are coming to a close tonight but you’re about to go to the UK after this. How have these dates been going with Cory?
Darrin Bradbury: They’ve been awesome. No complaints. We’ve gotten along really well. How long have we been out now, ten days?
Cory: If that.
DB: We’ve had many an adventure. There were good times. Tough times but good times. Gatsby. Best of times, worst of times.
I’m sure the weather has been a real treat.
DB: When we were in North Carolina, it was beautiful. Virginia and DC, it was super warm but yeah, the Northeast has been rough.
Then for you, this new record, it only came out in September but I know it’s been getting a lot of love and it’s your first for Anti. When did you really start working on this record?
DB: I started writing it about two years ago and I think we recorded it a year ago. Then it came out this year. It’s been in the Tupperware in the fridge for a while. But yeah, I wrote it when I first bought my house in Nashville. Because I felt like I had to be accurate to where I was and what I was doing. It would be disingenuous of me if I wasn’t living out of my car anymore, going from place to place, to be writing more songs that come from the Walmart parking lot. So I kind of tried to assess what domesticated life would be like for a more or less feral creature. How do you like them apples, well strawberry rather? (Taking a bite out of a strawberry).
Your writing studio is no longer the Walmart parking lot?
DB: Yeah, I mean I went from apartment to apartment, it wasn’t so much of that but it’s a significant change. Still life versus action.
Then considering you said you were writing this record two years ago, is it something where you’re already working on a new record?
DB: Yeah there’s a lot of new songs in the sets. But I play some of the old ones too. I’m really happy with the way the record’s been going so far. I thought it would be a little alienating because it’s just such a bummer. But apparently a lot of people are bummed out. I didn’t know I was getting into a good market
They’re really feeling it.
DB: I mean this guy over here I’m giving you a run for your money every night.
How has it been going over in these sets?
DB: They hate me, they love Cory. Oh wait, I hate me but I love Cory.
Have you been playing a lot of the stuff you’ve been working on?
DB: Yeah I’ve been playing a mix of the old, the “Talking Dogs” album, whatever’s next, and a few from “Elmwood Park”, the album I put out before that.
Then maybe for that record, “Talking Dogs”, when it came to writing for this record, were some of them older songs, maybe in what’s to come?
DB: I write primarily in batches. When I have the time at least. So usually an album comes within a three or four month period. Every batch of songs has consistent themes through out. You’re trying to get that fruit on the table right that you’re drawing. So there’s a bunch of different sketches of that fruit when it comes to albums. Does that make sense?
It makes sense.
DB: Its after these ten days that I don’t know if I make any sense.
It’s been a wild ten days, and you’re about to continue it with the Europe run. First date is Friday. Is it something where you’ve done international touring before or will this be something new for you?
DB: No, this will be my first time. Not a big plane rider guy, not into it. So I haven’t really thought past Wednesday. But I’m sure that my mind will be blown once I’m over in another part of the world. That will be pretty crazy. I never imagined that I’d be getting on a plane, I have a work visa, to go to work somewhere across the world.
Is there anything you’re really looking forward to over there or are you going into it with an open mind slate?
DB: When I get past my neurosis about it, yes I am very much looking forward to it. But the plane and the idea of traveling, doing all that stuff is a little bit nerve-wracking. But I’m very excited. And I’m excited that most of the shows are sold out. That’s pretty cool so no complaints on that. The people I’m opening for are really cool. Jarrod Dickenson and his wife. They were very kind to extend that to me. I think not a lot of people get to go to the UK for the first time for like a mostly sold out show.
Most are not nearly as lucky.
DB: If you fail long enough.
Then looking at the short you made, “Life of An Opener”, I know you obviously really went through something kind of life changing. Obviously that’s a huge thing that happened. I feel like you caught it right before it could have been really scary. How did that change or refresh your writing?
DB: I haven’t written much since the clot. I’ve written a couple songs, because I’ve been really focused on health. I lost like 75 pounds. I work out on the road now. It’s a whole different process of road life. So I haven’t really been focusing on the writing part. Plus, putting out the album and just trying to get back to being comfortable on the road and not getting freaked out about it. Because every day, it’s kind of going to the blood clot mobile. But it’s been cool. The last tour was with John Moreland and that was really fantastic. And with Cory, I really feel I’ve gotten my neuroses to a balancing point and I accredit Cory’s neuroses. Our neuroses met and they became friends.
Balance each other out.
DB: Ehh, anger and sadness.
Then obviously, a lot is going on. Writing new stuff. The album is only two months old.
DB: Yeah, there’s a lot going on.
Then maybe focuses or goals for you over these next few months. Coming up on 2020 so far?
DB: I think we’re going to get into the headlining game, so it will be fun to find venues that accommodate five. Plus a two person guest list. Then I’m excited for album two. Even less choruses then the last album. But yeah, the themes that are on the new stuff, whoever the person is on the Talking Dogs album, it’s that person going outside the house. That’s how I like to put it. I hope to finish writing the next album next year and get working on it. That’s my plan.