James Blundell on music, politics and fights with his dad
JAMES Blundell's country music career is a lengthy and significant one.
He was named Best New Talent at the Country Music Awards of Australia in 1987, and more than 30 years on, he still has that same passion and energy for his music.
Here, he shares what he gets up to on the farm, why he got into politics, and the whirlwind of events that followed his hit song with James Reyne, Way Out West.
Matt Collins: Are you a coffee man, James?
James Blundell: I am so hardcore with my coffee that I have actually been trying to establish a high-climate, cold- weather coffee on my property here for the last three or four years.
MC: How's that going?
JB: Well, it was all going good until our very best kelpie decided to dig up all three of my trial seedlings which I got through two winters. Coffee is a very interesting plant. It can cope with zero degrees, but it can't do frosts. So I had nursed these seedlings and I finally had a starter and I came home from a couple of days away and they were all over the veranda.
MC: Your old man is 83. You guys are pretty good mates?
JB: Yeah, he reckons every day on the planet is his last, but give him a rum and a decent conversation and off he goes again.
MC: Sounds like my kind of guy.
JB: Yeah, he is a good bloke. We get along pretty well when we are not fighting, which we have been doing since I was 14.
MC: What do you guys fight about?
JB: It's pretty much pick a subject. Although he seems to have mellowed in the last couple of years, but from the age of of 14, I started telling him how he should run his property and he took exception to that. We can have some fairly spicy arguments, but they don't last long. We give each other a big hug and get on with it.
MC: Have you got that same stubborn gene as your dad, do you think?
MC: You look at anyone who has excelled in their field and you have to have an element of stubbornness, right?
JB: One of the things I say to a lot of the young artists that I work with is, to survive in the music industry, you have to have the patience of Job and the hide of a rhinoceros and a healthy degree of stubbornness is not a bad thing in the mix. If you don't believe what you're doing is worthwhile, how the hell is anybody else going to?
MC: Thinking of some of the international artists out there and Madonna comes to mind. She is someone who, from all reports is not very nice, but I guess you don't get to that point unless you are like that.
JB: I guess that's true. There is the old saying that behind every great fortune, there is a crime. I've read about a dozen really good autobiographies and one of my favourites is Van Morrison's. It's simply called Too Late to Stop Now. I don't think he has ever changed what he's doing. He just waits for the wheel to turn to make him famous or make him fashionable again. I can really relate to that.
MC: The hit song Way Out West came out in 1992 and it put you on a scene outside of country music. Was that an overwhelming time for you?
JB: It was wildly exciting. It was strange on every level. There was a whole heap of stuff that went on with that tour and I don't remember all of it, so it must have been a great time.
MC: In 2013, you got into politics, was that always a goal?
JB: It was never the goal, but early on in my career, 60 Minutes did a story on me and they asked what would I do later on in my life. My genuine and very passionate answer was to give back in a way that was meaningful, whereupon I was approached by the National Party back then to run. That was a bit of a wake-up call because I thought, if you are going to open your mouth you'd better stand by it.
James Blundell is at the 2019 Gympie Music Muster, which runs from August 22-25.