In 2009 Brendan Welch released The Gleaner, his Paul Dempsey-produced debut album, to critical acclaim. He won some high profile fans and went on to play shows alongside Paul Kelly, Tim Rogers, Jen Cloher and more. Then, after a dispute with management, things ground to a halt. The LP became tangled up in legal troubles, and Welch disappeared from the public eye for more than five years.
The Gleaner is now getting a deserving reissue through Ballarat label Heart of the Rat Records, on digital and vinyl. Meanwhile Welch has sprung right back into action and is preparing a new record with production from Two Bright Lakes co-founder Nick Huggins.
Below he shares with us some of the inspiration behind his gorgeous first album, including time spent in the doldrums, the “uselessness of over-moralising, the un-clarity of guilt and the attractiveness of brutality”.
I Think I Always Thought (I’d Fall in Love With You)
I wrote the song many years ago trying express the frustration of not falling in love with who I thought I should. It does have a positive melody though, and all major chords, so it manages to be hopeful at the same time! Sometimes regardless of my intention the music has a way of expressing its own will. It has since been sung at a few weddings.
Oh No! I’m Wasting Away
I was in a bad place physically and mentally. I weighed about 62kg – my normal weight is about 75 – and I was choosing bottles of cheap wine over bread at the supermarket with the little bit of money I had. I couldn’t keep down a day job at that stage. I was actually worried that I might literally “waste away!” Hence the main lyric.
Halls of Men
Dead tired of all the complete bullshit that often falls out of mouths and radio waves and television screens – this is a hopeful song about the end of modern life as we know it!
I Made It to Sail
Another story set in an unknown time and place, about being on the run. I imagined a version of myself being rejected after trying and failing to entertain the king and subsequently being hunted by an ancient dynasty.
With a Steady Hand
Based on the feeling that without the status and protection of a middle-class, 21st-century, privileged, western life, I would be the first to be pushed out or put down by the ‘real men’ of my imagined ‘real world’.
Run While You Still Can
The horror and anger of finding out what someone close to you is capable of. A sung version of what you’d wished you’d said had your mind and heart been quick enough in that moment of realisation.
On the Run
The uselessness of over-moralising, the un-clarity of guilt and the attractiveness of brutality. Another song about someone running from something!
If Only I Could Know You Then
The lyric came to me as I was driving past the Pentridge Apartments [in Coburg, Melbourne], converted from the unused prison buildings I remember being there as a kid. I was trying to describe multiple lives taking place during both uses of the structure simultaneously – as if both images were overlaid in time and space.
At my lowest point, struggling with drinking blackouts and with not feeling connected to any place at any one time. Meanwhile revelling in the destructiveness of it all and seeing no alternative; being young.
I Don’t Know Her Yet
Sprung from the single image that came to mind of a girl asleep on top of a petrified ocean of ‘stone.’ She’s resting under a half-breached whale that got stuck when the sea hardened in an end-of-days event!
When you feel a situation cannot continue and you’d welcome a violent end to things (literally and metaphorically).
I found the lyrics amongst an archive of unused Woody Guthrie lyrics. Something struck me about the words and I crafted the song around them. It feels like a nuclear power anthem and a warning call and a post-apocalyptic dream, all at the same time.