While 2020 was a challenging year for most, it was the opposite for Australian country musician Casey Barnes. 2020 saw Barnes release his latest album Town Of A Million Dreams which reached number one on the ARIA Australian Country charts and fourth on the Australian albums. Barnes also scored his first ARIA’s Country Album of the Year nomination. His success continues to grow in 2021 as he is nominated for four Golden Guitar awards and released his latest single Come Turn Me On earlier this month. Come Turn Me On sees Barnes intertwine his country sound with a mix of pop, creating an electrifying tune. The single was written by Barnes and Nashville based duo Brown + Gray and who also co-wrote his other smash hit singles Sparks Fly and We’re Good Together.
In between rehearsing for his upcoming shows and promoting his latest single, We were lucky enough to have Barnes fill us in on what a week in his life looks like.
A job description in your own words:
I’ve been extremely fortunate for the last 15+ years to be a full time working musician/artist. I remember clearly sitting down with my parents around the early 2000’s to tell them I wanted to quit my job and chase this dream of releasing my own music.
At the time I was working during the day as a travel consultant at Flight Centre and doing gigs at night, but it got to the point where the music side of things started to take over. It was a brave call to leave a full time job, but my parents were amazing and I’ve never looked back since! Since then I’ve realised there’s nothing better than doing what you love for a living. It’s a lot of hard work and sometimes I wish I could jump in a time machine and travel back 15 years to give my younger self some valuable advice but there’d be no fun in that would there?
A brief daily journal over a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
Things are a bit crazy at the moment after just releasing a new single so we’re right into promo mode. Typically, I’ll wake up and bang out a couple of radio interviews, then head straight to my favourite local coffee shop along Currumbin Beach, before moving on to Dad duties and school drop offs. I try and fit some form of exercise in on a daily basis so that’s generally next up, then it’s into more music promo and gearing up for the upcoming tour.
A little more of the same; a radio interviews, drop the kids off to school and then home and into a typical workday which can vary from being creative and working on new music, setting up co-writes, recording and working on more behind the scenes stuff like setting up the logistics of upcoming shows. I also chat to Chuggi (my manager Michael Chugg) or the team about stuff they need me to get onto. There’s NEVER a dull moment.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio so far this year working on what will be the next album. That’s consisted of plenty of Zoom co-writing sessions. Generally, I’ll try and get into the studio by mid-morning to get vocals recorded and the tracks to a point where we’re happy to present them to the label. Home from the studio and then off to touch footy training with the girls.
This week we’re back out on the road so it’s an early start. Off to the airport and heading to Melbourne for our first show there in what feels like a lifetime after COVID-19 restrictions. Get into Melbourne, head to the hotel, check in and then head to the venue for sound check. Always love being on the road with the boys in the band and we’re best mates. After checking in and sound check, a bit of hang time in the green room, then hit the stage around 9:30pm for the show. Debrief after the gig, as we are always keen to make the show better if we can.
Normally we’re doing another show somewhere and it’s a travel day but this week it’s promo in Melbourne for the single. Plenty of radio interviews and media, then a bit of down time before gearing up for another travel day.
Up early and head to the airport, next stop is my old home state of Tassie. It’s always great to get down there whenever I can and this week we’re playing a sold out show so that makes it all the more sweeter. Pick up the van in Launceston and head to the venue for sound check. We like to travel with the Sherrin (AFL footy) whenever we can. A kick with the lads, couple of sneaky whiskeys pre-show, meet the locals, smash a roast pork roll then hit the stage around 9pm.
Home time and always great to get back to my wife and girls. I don’t like to be away from them for too long!
Challenges and accomplishments in your week
I think one of the best decisions we made in the last 12 months and biggest accomplishments was making the call to release my album when we did (back in April 2020). It was tough at the time because no one had a crystal ball, and we weren’t sure how long we’d be stuck living the way we were with no touring and no light at the end of the tunnel. But, people were still listening to music, probably more than ever and I was so lucky to get support from not only fans but also radio and media and it paid off.
My first ever ARIA nomination for the album and four Golden Guitars which was a bit of a silver lining last year. The challenge now is to keep that momentum going. The best way to do that is to make sure you’re releasing the best music you can. A lot of focus turns to what’s going to be the next single, what’s the release plan, when should the next album to come out and where can we start touring now that restrictions are easing. There’s a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes, but it’s also exciting to see that life at least here in Australia is starting to get back to normal. I’ve missed touring and playing live over the last 12 months so there’s a lot to look forward to!
Highlights of the week (pros of the job)
The highlights over the last week have been sitting back, letting go of your own control and releasing a new single go out into the world. It’s always frightening not knowing how fans will react and whether radio will start playing it. You’re always pretty nervous especially on that first day but thankfully it’s had a great response so far. Some playlist adds on Spotify and Apple Music and radio play so we’re off to a flyer. The next thing I’m looking forward to is putting the single into our live set and testing it out at shows!
Lowlights of the week (cons of the job)
I’d say it’d be still coming to terms with the fact that we as a music industry have lost such an icon in Michael Gudinski. He’s a man that is impossible to replace. One of the biggest positives to come out of 2020 for me was signing to Mushroom Publishing, having the backing of Michael and his belief in my music. That sort of thing doesn’t come around often in your career. I’d been in the studio working on this next record and we were only just texting the week prior to his passing about a couple of the new songs and how excited we were. It’s hard to believe he’s no longer with us. The fact that he had a positive impact on so many musicians lives, how much he loved our industry and wanted to put Australia on the international map can never be underrated. I really hope we can keep his legacy going.
Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field
There’s no magic guidebook to success. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing this, you’ll still learn something new every day. Love what you do, work hard, always be prepared to improve and don’t ever be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. You’ll get your fair share of setbacks and no’s along the way but then on the flip side some of your biggest breaks can come along when you least expect it. Don’t be difficult to deal with, stay humble and just try and be a good human.
You can catch Barnes at Way Out West Festival, Gippsland Country Music Festival, Toowoomba, the Gympie Music Muster and Savannah In The Round later this year.