THE married duo of Winnie Brave…
provide the music world with plenty of charm and unique spirit. I ask about their new single, Moonshine, and whether Amy and Brad are coming to the U.K. Winnie Brave is based in Canada - so I ask why Canada is producing so many great artists. They talk about the new album, Cheap Gin, and what more is coming.
The guys chat about their Winnebago and why they tour in it (and why it is so homely); what it has been like getting such a great reception – and whether they have any plans set for this Christmas.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
We are Winnie Brave (Amy and Brad McIsaac); a husband-and-wife, Americana/Soul duo who tour/travel in our 1976 Winnebago with our two dogs.
Moonshine is your new single. What is the song about?
Moonshine was written by Amy (music and lyrics) one morning in February a few years ago. The song came about rather quickly and flowed from start-to-finish in under an hour – it was one of those easy songs that popped out fairly complete and without much effort or toiling. I wish they could all be that easy.
I didn’t have a set idea or story in mind at the start: I (just) let it flow and connected the dots – so to speak – what came out was a fairly traditional story of love that just wasn’t meant to be.
Catherine North Studio is where your album, Cheap Gin, was made. How was that experience?
Drums and vocals were recorded live in the main cathedral room of Catherine North Studios. The room provided the perfect acoustics for the driving train beat and the big, wide-open vocals. The large room also provided a great natural reverb - which was perfectly captured by Dan Hosh (Engineer) and his creative microphone techniques.
Will there be more material released from the album?
Lover on the Side is the second single that will be independently released before the year’s end.
Who are the other musicians who aided on the music of Cheap Gin?
The album features us, Amy and Brad McIsaac, along with Christine Bougie on Lap Steel; Adam Cannon on Drums; Lauren Campbell on Backing Vocals - and Albert Carraro on Electric Guitar.
We tour as a duo since the Winnebago only has two seatbelts.
Why did you guys get into music and which artists have inspired that decision?
Playing music was a shared, common interest and, what started as a hobby/just-for-fun pastime, naturally progressed into something we wanted to do for a living - it became our family business. We take inspiration from such a wide collection of artists that it’s hard to narrow it down to only a few...
In the last few years, we have looked towards artists like Shovels & Rope as inspiration for what we are aiming to achieve.
Talk to me about your 1976 Winnebago, ‘Winnie’. Why is she your chosen method of transportation? Does it feel like a home to you?!
Winnie, our 1976 Winnebago, is definitely home. She is the (most) perfect touring vehicle for us...
Having all the comforts of home (i.e. a kitchen, full bathroom; our own bed and dogs) means we can stay out on the road for extended periods of time without feeling like we’re missing anything - it’s comfortable all the time. Plus, she gets lots of attention and we have met some wonderful people - just because they were attracted to her good looks.
You must have experienced some great times in the Winnebago?!
There are so many great memories from our travels: it’s hard to pick just one; however, there was one night on the Central Coast in California that comes to mind…
One night, we pulled off Highway 1 (California’s old coast highway) and ventured down a gravel path that led to a bluff overlooking the ocean. We made dinner and ate outside under a perfectly-clear sky. Once it got dark, we settled into bed and fell asleep listening to the waves – it was a perfect evening and there wasn’t another soul around. Around 7:30 A.M., Brad woke up and peeked out the window… “Holy s*it; we’re surrounded!” I (Amy) jolted up to see what he was referring to (naturally thinking it was the cops. L.o.L.), and, low and behold, there were about thirty cows surrounding the R.V. – extremely curious and having a good look.
I guess not many Winnebagos roam into their pasture.
What is Canada’s music scene like now? Is it quite fertile and productive?
Finding gigs is the easy part: finding recognition is a whole other ballgame.
Having travelled to many different parts of Canada and the United States, we find that the scene is fairly similar across the board. In most circumstances, there are more bands than there are places to play.
What tour dates do you have coming up? Will you be coming to the U.K.?
We will be playing a bunch of dates throughout the remainder of the year in Western Canada - followed by a four-month tour of the United States (commencing in January 2018).
We’d love to come to the U.K.! We’d love to take Winnie for a spin around the Top Gear test-track.
Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?
We will be spending this Christmas in our new home in rural, eastern Alberta; then, heading south right after the New Year (to start our U.S. tour).
What do you guys do/enjoy outside of music?
Brad: Vintage cars and guitars; craft beer and hockey.
Amy: Thrift shop-hunting and cooking a great meal (while sipping a cocktail, naturally).
If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
When I was about fifteen; I learned how to play the guitar and was really drawn to Sarah McLachlan. Her album, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, was probably one of the first albums I bought that I listened to over and over again – it wasn’t long before I learned how to play all the songs… and then I cut all my hair off. L.o.L.
Brad: The first album I went deep with was Ten by Pearl Jam. I bought a pawn shop bass and a tab book and tried to master all the songs. The process of learning those songs inside and out informed my current taste in songwriting and production. My taste and influences have broadened greatly since then but that was where it began for me.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Work hard and keep working hard.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Amy: Crazy on You – Heart
Ann Wilson can SING!
Brad: Blown Wide Open - Big Wreck
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