Golden Guitar Award winner and ARIA nominated Melbourne four-piece, Mustered Courage, have well established themselves in the forefront of Australia's folk and roots scene. Known for pushing the boundaries of what progressive folk-rock can be, they convinced prolific rock and roll songwriter, performer and Choirboys founder/singer, Mark Gable to record and perform -Run To Paradise' with a bluegrass twist. The result gave the song a new lease on life engaging an entire music community that may not be so familiar with the song first made famous in 1988 by Choirboys.
After a chance meeting in the main street of Tamworth during 2012's Country Music Festival, with Mark introducing himself and praising the band for their work, never did the pair think it was the start of a magical music collaboration.
"Being a young band and our first ever trip to the Festival, it really meant a lot to us," says guitarist Julian Abrahams. The pair continued to cross paths for many years in Tamworth and in 2014, the band managed to convince Mark to join Mustered Courage on stage at one of their Tamworth shows to perform a bluegrass arrangement of Gable's successful single. Needless to say, Mark was all in and the audience were in raptures.
"The chord progression lends itself very well to the traditional bluegrass sound so it made a lot of sense and Aussies love this bloody song and we loved delivering a version that the country and bluegrass people could get into as well. That audience absolutely brought the house down after we played it with Mark."
Featuring Nick Keeling (Banjo), Julian Abrahams (Guitar), Josh Bridges (Double Bass) and Josh Bennett (Mandolin), Mustered Courage's steady rise and insatiable work ethic caught the attention of Lost Highway Australia who signed the band to a worldwide recording deal in 2014. The signing was consummated with the release of a rootsy cover of Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" which garnered further accolade from not only Seal himself but fans and media alike with Rhythms Magazine raving, 'the ourpart harmonies are right on the money. And the string picking, whether lightning fast or mellow and relaxed, is incendiary." The single also featured an original instrumental B-side titled -Candle Creek' which earnt merit on its own giving Mustered Courage their first Golden Guitar Award for Instrumental of the Year at the 2015 CMAA Music Awards.
That same year, the band released their third album White Lies & Melodies – their first album via Lost Highway, which earnt the band a nomination for ARIA Country Album of the Year.
This is the band's first new recording release since 2015 and leads the way for a new album release in September 2018. Keen to involve fans in the band's next recording venture, Mustered Courage will begin a crowdfunding campaign via their official website in the coming weeks.
'We have such a ball spending time with Mark and the music video was an absolute hilarious blast to shoot. His energy and sense of humour is second to none, and what a voice," says Julian. 'Mustered Courage fans are no strangers to us doing left of centre cover versions, so we think this should be a nice addition to our repertoire. Maybe even a new country anthem that opens the doors of Aussie rock fans to a genre they don't yet know they love. Time will tell... bluegrass paradise".
Run To Paradise available on iTunes and Spotify now. www.musteredcourage.com | www.facebook.com/musteredcourage
Question: How did the collaboration with Mark Gable come about?
Julian Abrahams: We met Mark on the main street of Tamworth on our first trip to the festival in 2012. Mark approached us and introduced himself and told us that he loved what we were doing.
Being a young band this meant a lot to us. In the following years we would often cross paths in Tamworth. Finally, one year I suggested that we should do a bluegrass arrangement of 'Run to Paradise' at one of our Tamworth gigs.
Mark thought it sounded like fun so we got him on stage and ripped through our version with him and it brought the house down. Aussies love this bloody song and we loved delivering a version that the country and bluegrass people could get into as well. Seeing as we all loved the sound of the version we suggested putting it down in the studio when we were hanging out with Nash Chambers (brother to Kasey) doing some recording. We layed it down in the studio and now we are proud to release it into the world
Question: Can you talk us through the process of putting a bluegrass twist on Run To Paradise?
Julian Abrahams: The chord progression lends itself very well to the traditional bluegrass sound so it made a lot of sense. For any music nerd out there, it's a 1-4-5 kind of thing, or G C D, which is perfect for bluegrass and country music. It's easy. Just play it on acoustic instruments, whack a rolling banjo and a mandolin on there and call it bluegrass.
Question: How would you describe Mustered Courage's music?
Julian Abrahams: The simplest way is to say we're a bluegrass band. Most people don't really know what that really is, but this song is a good example of the traditional sound. Acoustic guitar, banjo, the chop of the mandolin which is the backbeat acting as a snare drum, double bass and usually a fiddle thrown in for good measure. We also write more modern sounding pop stuff harmonically and then arrange it for the bluegrass instrumentation. Some would describe it more in the Americana category. We've said alternative bluegrass and we've also said progressive bluegrass. Genre labelling is all a bit a silly really. It's too hard!
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Julian Abrahams: Depends on the crowd. Sometimes we like the up tempo bluegrass bangers like 'Still Shinin'"… sometimes we like the more intimate and intricate songs like Cruel Alibis. It really depends on the crowd and the room we are playing to . We change our setlist dramatically from gig to gig. Keeps it interesting!
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Julian Abrahams: We love doing both. Their both such different beasts. A lot of magic can happen in both arenas.
Question: What is the story behind the name, Mustered Courage?
Julian Abrahams: Mustering the Courage to be in a band with conflicting personalities. It's the vibe of being in a band in general. It's super challenging. Like living, sleeping and working together constantly. That's what being in a band is. You need the courage to get past the tough times. Friendship and business are challenging when intertwine.
Question: How did the band come together?
Julian Abrahams: Nick and myself played together in a hip hop/funk band for 8 years together prior to Mustered Courage formation. We moved to Melbourne together to be rap stars and ended up starting a country band. True story. See Casual Projects here: YouTube
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Julian Abrahams: Life, love, the lack of money and struggles with balancing the so called music industry with basic survival.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Julian Abrahams: Vulfpeck, Jude Perl, Kasey Chambers, Theo Katzman, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Julian Abrahams: AC/DC and my older brothers CD collection.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Julian Abrahams: Billy Joel.
Interview by Brooke Hunter