Interview: Brian Baker

Melbourne, AU based singer-songwriter Brian Baker has released the catchy new Indie Rock single ‘Let Me Be My Crazy’ via Origin Music. Baker is a singer/songwriter/producer living in the Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne, Australia. Brian has a passion for the environment and Buddhism, themes evident in his songs, music and videos. He plays guitar, bass, piano and keyboards, drums and percussion, sings and relishes his production duties, on his own songs and other artists works.

Brian is passionate about songwriting and is a student and big fan of Pat Pattison. (A professor at Berklee College of Music, teaching lyric writing and poetry.) After moving to Australia from New Zealand in 1980, Brian performed with many Australian bands, securing a Sony recording deal with “The Ones”. Around this time he scored his first song placement on the second UnCanny X-Men album, (Australian rock act) with the song “Colour Your Answer Blue”.  After writing and recording top 20 single “Heart” with The Ones (released on Sony) he went on to co write the score for the movie “Rikki and Pete” with Eddie Rayner from Split Enz/Crowded House. Eddie and Brian continued to work together as “The Makers”, releasing 2 CDs through Warner’s East West label, including the hit single  “Big Picture”. Together with drummer Michael Barker, they toured Australia and New Zealand with the B52’s and appeared on TV shows like MTV, Countdown, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Tonight Live and The Midday Show.

Brian signed a deal with Fable Music/The Image Label to produce library music which continues to be used worldwide. He’s written and recorded radio and TV jingles, short film and documentary scores. He has performed at countless shows and is writing and recording songs and music at the highest level of his profession. He offers that expertise from his recording studio “The Bakery”, producing other artists, co-writing and assisting with songwriting and recording. 

We had a chance to catch up with Brian about his latest single: 

Refrain Music Blog: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Your new single, Let Me Be My Crazy, is out now. Tell us about it.  What’s the single about? 

Brian Baker: Hey guys, great to chat with you. The song is meant to be a fun thing…essentially about acceptance. I liked the idea of someone wearing a Panda suit around the house, and going to work in their PJ’s. Not enough Panda mentions in songs, in my opinion. Panda’s are criminally under represented in the Indie Rock Music genre. They should have their own awards category.

RMB: You did this track with Eddie Rayner of Split Enz, yeah? What’s the story on how it was recorded? I know with Covid, getting together to record can be almost impossible.

Brian Baker: Eddie and I have been mates and fellow conspirators on all things musical since our days together as The Makers. When Eddie finished up with Split Enz he was playing with Crowded House. He wanted his own thing and we teamed up, first for a movie soundtrack and then as
a band, The Makers, releasing a couple of CDs through Warners.

He’s contributed keyboards on a lot of my stuff over the years, in particular the “Hard Light” CD, and on the “In Our Backyard” single, (big piano intro and solo). But more than that we’re always chucking mixes and ideas back and forth across “the ditch”. (“The ditch” is how the ocean between Australia and New Zealand is often referred to. It’s the dry humour thing we’ve got going on here down under….) I hate to tell you this, but Eddie’s actually not playing a thing on “Let Me Be My
Crazy”, not a sausage. We have discussed the mix and arrangement though and it seems to get his thumbs up. One person that did contribute to the recording of the track was Michael Barker. Michael was with Eddie and I in The Makers when we toured with The B52’s. Since then he’s gone on to play with Neil Finn and The John Butler Trio. He is a fabulous drummer and his playing really lifts the vibe of the track. It was interesting as Michael lives in Rotorua in New Zealand and I’m in Melbourne, Australia. It was a matter of sending him across the files and having a few phone discussions to have him perform that great drum track. Certainly using the internet has made
that sort of collaboration much easier.

RMB: Any special gear that you used for the song?

Brian Baker: Hmmm…let me think. I definitely used my 1966 Hofner Violin bass on the track. It was made in East Germany and has all the joys and troubles that made Paul McCartney’s bass so recognizable. It just has that unmistakable sound but it’s a pain to keep in tune! Gorgeous instrument though and suits this track in particular. I also used some backwards piano loops that I made and featured my favourite slide guitar. I’m a real fan of George Harrison, Lowell George and Derek Trucks so it was great to sneak a few slide licks into Crazy.

RMB: With a sound this diverse, you have to have some cool musical references. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Brian Baker: I would have to start with The Beatles, from songs to sounds they are still unbeatable in my book. From there I go to The Stones, XTC, Little Feat, Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, Django Reinhardt, Split Enz, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, Beck, loads, old and new. I listen to loads of music, right now I’m enjoying strolling through Nick Cave and Patti Smith.

RMB: Looking back at your career so far, what are you most proud of?

Brain Baker: I loved playing the big shows with The Makers and I‘d definitely like to get out and tour again, fates permitting. I’m proud of every bit of my career and feel privileged to be able to keep producing music. I would say that I’m most proud to be where I am now – able to use all my
experiences and work with the friends of my musical life to write and record these songs.

RMB: If you had to pitch your music to a potential fan here in the states in less than 10 seconds, what would you say?

Brian Baker: Great songs, great sounds, think John Lennon having lunch with Peter Gabriel. If you’re looking for interesting lyrics, melodies you can sing, music you can get inside of, a passionate songwriter and liver of life, check me out!

RMB: What’s one piece of advice you’ve gotten that you think everyone needs to hear or that has meant the most to you?

Brian Baker: As a songwriter and musician – keep going, build catalogue. You never know when that bit of interest in your work could show itself. As a person – Everything’s OK. Don’t buy into the news, look at what’s happening at your feet. That stuff you feel and think – go check it out, it’s important to keep an open mind.

RMB: If you could go back in time, what’s a piece of advice you would give to a younger you?

Brain Baker: It would’ve been very hard for me to hear but….”others are more important than you are, serve them. Think – what would love have me do today?” Oh and don’t ever sell that 1966 Series V Humber Super Snipe with the red leather seats and walnut dashboards.”

RMB: What’s coming up next for Brian Baker, musically?

Brian Baker: I’m moving back to my homeland shortly, back to New Zealand. My plan is to build a permaculture farm and off grid recording studio. Could take me some time! I’ve recorded a few tracks to release over the next six months so I’ll still have some music coming out. My December release is a rerecord of The Makers first single “Big Picture”. Pretty exciting and it’s been interesting to revisit that song after all this time. I just hope I’ve done it justice. Then I have some pretty wild releases set up for 2021 and hopefully, I can get out and do some shows. Make sure you follow me on Spotify to get the new songs first up.

RMB: Anything we haven’t thought of that you want to talk about? Now is the time!

Brian Baker: I’m doing a blog on video about the move to NZ and the building of the new studio so keep an eye on my YouTube channel and website – for those videos. Would be great for people to subscribe so they get notified when I drop a new video. It will cover
all aspects – looking for suitable land, construction, gear , trials and tribulations… the whole shooting match! Thank you for listening.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s