Bryan Adams: Nothing to Prove
At this point in his career Bryan Adams is just having fun. In his own words,“There’s nothing to prove.”
And he’s right. With millions of records sold in his 3+ decade career, Bryan Adams doesn’t need an introduction. The numbers – and the songs – speak for themselves.
The 55-year-old Canadian rocker has been in the game since 1980, when he released his eponymous debut album, Bryan Adams. But his real breakthrough came three later with the release of Cuts Like a Knife in 1983, and then Reckless in 1984.
The combination of Bryan Adams’ down-to-earth persona, handsome looks and exceptional gift for writing both riveting rock and heart-wrenching power ballads made him one of the biggest acts of the ’80s and ’90s.
Adams’ 1991 album Waking Up The Neighbours blew up around the world with the hit songs “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” and “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started.” Another high point included 1996′s 18 Til I Die, featuring “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You” and the chart-topping “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman,” which was then followed up by MTV Unplugged a year later.
Which brings us to his newest release, Get Up, a collection of catchy, hook-filled and snappy rock and roll songs that Adams wrote with his longtime friend and collaborator Jim Vallance.
The album shows the rocking side of the singer-songwriter. This is the sound of an artist having fun doing what he loves to do. The production is handled by ELO frontman Jeff Lynne and together they’ve created an joyful album steeped in rollicking rock ‘n’ roll and Sixties nostalgia.
We caught up with the rock veteran about his first musical influences and his new rocking album.
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‘Get Up’ is one of your most rocking albums do date. It’s all guitar-based and back to basics. Starting out, what album did you want to make?
There was no “let’s sit down and do this.” These are just the songs that were written in the last 15 months. And that’s it, you know. They came out rockin’. If you love guitars you’re gonna love this album.
The opening track, “You Belong to Me,” has this great energy that really sets the tone of the entire album, and shows side of you that we haven’t seen before. What’s the story behind that track?
I started working with Jim Vallence again. We used to write songs in the ’80s, and we’ve been working sporadically over the last 10 years, but this was the first time we really sat down. We had a few songs going from various things and we’d been sort of channeling Sixties music and in particular Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, that sort of thing. I think that’s where the inspiration for that song comes from. Actually, that song and “Don’t Even Try” were songs that were written for a pilot for a TV series that never happened, that was based on Sixties music. So we were thinking about songs from that time period and that’s kind of what came out.
You’ve described the album as a home project. Could you elaborate on that?
I think it’s probably because it was just three people making the record. Jim and I would sit down and we would write a demo, and then I would the send the demo off to Jeff Lynne, and Jeff would take whatever he liked and keep it and then play all the other instruments. Maybe we would meet and have a chat about it, and that was it.
How did Jeff Lynne come to produce the album?
A friend of mine introduced me to Jeff. I have met Jeff a few times over the years, but I said to my friend, “Oh yeah, if you see Jeff say hi. I would love to speak to him again.” And then we met up and that was it. I’ve always thought his production is great, I mean really, really great. So when he suggested doing a song together, I was like, “Yeah, I’d love to.”
He does have this signature sound, and he knows how to cut a rock and roll song. Did you have a sense that he was the right guy for this sound you were aiming at?
I didn’t really know what was going to come. Once I heard the first song I was sure that it would be amazing to do a whole record with him, but we never talked about it. We did a song, then we did another song and then we did another song. And about six songs in I was like, “Hey Jeff I think we got a whole album here.” We never really discussed it. But the whole thing just fell together so easily.
Do you prefer to work like this?
I do. I used to do albums where I would have ten songs, go in to the studio, bang it out, and that was it. Now we were writing as we were going along. There’s much more of a carefree vibe about things these days than there used to be back in the early days. Now there’s nothing to prove. Other than just to make a cool record. A cool record that we all like. That was always the vibe, but there was more pressure on in the old days to deliver. Now there’s so not any pressure. It’s like “let’s just have a laugh,” and I think that comes out.
You’re working with Jim Valence again. How did be become part of the process and what did he bring to the table?
Jim and I have been working together pretty much for the last ten years, but this is the first time since 1987 that we did a whole album together. It’s enormously gratifying to me because he’s somebody I’ve known my whole life. He’s someone I’ve got a great history with. He’s a great musician and a great songwriter. It just feels perfect. We don’t have anything to prove to each other. We can just write.
In “That’s Rock and Roll” you sing, “I’m talking Buddy / I’m talking Elvis.” Growing up, were Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley some of your first influences?
They weren’t my first influences. My first influences were the Beatles and that sort of thing. But later on, once I discovered it, you can’t deny it. Because what you find out is that the people you grew up listening to and admiring, were influenced by them.
Looking back at your long, storied career, what’s your proudest accomplishment?
Being able to pay my rent for making music.
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