By Kyra Gillespie
Pakenham singer-songwriter Brad Ellis is set to release his debut album on Friday 8 December under indie rock/folk project The Hunter Express.
Taking seven months to complete, the self-titled LP shows a change in direction to the more traditional, alt-country sound of his 2016 EP Bluestone Lane.
“I approached this album with an open mind,” Ellis said.
“The creative process was completely different to when I was making my EP.
“I found that I was writing new songs the night before recording, which then became some of the best tracks on the album because they were so fresh and so real.”
Recorded at Newmarket Studios with Callum Barter, sound engineer for Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s most recent album Whole Lotta Sea Lice, the 10-track album features impressive collaborations with some of the best musicians in the Melbourne scene.
“I took a risk when I booked to record Bluestone Lane with Cal Barter, but I had done my research and knew of the great work he had produced with other musicians around the city.
“When I went to North Melbourne to meet with him he showed me his studio and explained the space, and how he worked by recording multiple musicians all at the same time, which was really interesting to me. I hadn’t done anything like that before.
“I’d always recorded in layers, but now I feel like that was what I was meant to do and the way I always want to create music.
“Not only did he engineer the album but he also had a pretty big impact on the direction of the music too.
Among the high-profile contributors was Olaf Scott from Saskwatch, Dorsal Fins’ Jarrad Brown, Matt Dixon and Fraser A. Gorman.
“Cal put me in touch with some great musicians who I got to work on the album with.
“I was pretty nervous to work with them at first but through the process we’ve all become great friends.
“I enjoy working alongside different musicians and seeing the way they work and make music.”
Inspired by the likes of Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Tessi and The War on Drugs, Ellis’ sound is as honest as it is unique.
The album, a creative fusion of spoken word poetry, indie rock and folk, is more than just an artistic achievement for Ellis, who sadly lost his father to cancer this year.
“My dad passed away in June this year, so it was right in the middle of making the album.
“It was already impacting the album, even before he died. I found it creeping into everything, from the lyrics, the songs and the chords.
“It was really tough, but it also encouraged me to keep going with the album.
“Music got me through, and finishing this album has allowed me to try to start to heal from that.”
After being on the judging panel for a regional FReeZA music competition, the stay-at-home dad hopes to one day use his music to teach other upcoming musicians.
“I would love to start my own independent label supporting other bands on their music adventure.
“In making this album I realised not to wait around for others if you want something to happen.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you’re never too old to pursue something you love.”
The new album will be available online from Friday 8 December on all major platforms, with hardcopy album release and tour dates to be announced in March 2018.