Daryl Braithwaite Kinda Wishes We’d Get Over ‘The Horses’ Already

That's not the way it's gonna be, lil darlin'.

Daryl Braithwaite

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

“I’ve got to admit — it’s taking a bit of getting used to doing this again.” Daryl Braithwaite – singer, songwriter, veteran of the Australian music industry and now a two-time ARIA Hall of Fame inductee — is in the midst of his most intense press schedule in years.

“It’s good,” he insists, “but it’s insanely busy.” It’s not just about his long-awaited induction as a solo artist into the aforementioned Hall; nor is it just about the recently-released compilation LP, Days Go By, which collects his biggest solo hits as well as some new and rare recordings from across his career. There’s more to it — Braithwaite is experiencing a renaissance that is bringing his music to a whole new generation.

Having performed on-stage with Client Liaison and now being booked for Falls at the end of the year, the 68-year-old doesn’t quite know what to make of it. It’s all with a little bit of a wink, sure —  in the same way Shannon Noll’s career saw a revival not too long ago – but there’s a warm nostalgia and a genuine love that shines through more than anything else. For a 50-year career with more than its fair share of ups and downs, once again having a captive audience is surely a third act that’s wholly gratifying.

Ahead of this week’s ARIAs ceremony, Braithwaite spoke openly and honestly about his career — looking back, looking forward and riding on those horses for over 25 years.

Congratulations on your second ARIA Hall of Fame induction! As it turns out, there are less than a dozen people that can lay claim to that – and now, you’re one of them.

Thank you very much! I honestly didn’t expect to be doing all of this again. Having been inducted with the band before, I thought that was that. To be given a nod for the solo thing… it’s much, much appreciated.

What do you remember about the 1990 Hall of Fame induction with the rest of Sherbet?

I can remember being up on stage with the rest of the band — we all had a turn at thanking people. That’s about it. I can’t remember if we went out and celebrated after the ceremony, I can only imagine we would have. There’s not a lot else that I really remember — the important thing is that we were all together.

To break down the semantics of Daryl Braithwaite the solo artist versus your time as a part of Sherbet, can you explain the origins of performing under your own name?

It was sort of running parallel with the Sherbs for awhile there. Basically, Sherbet started in 1970 and my first solo release was in 1974 — while I was still in the band. It was just a hobby back then, as an adjunct to what we were doing in Sherbet.

Clive Shakespeare, who was a founding member of the band, was actually the one who suggested it to me. I decided to have a go at it, on the proviso that the rest of the band were okay with it and it didn’t interfere with what we were doing. Lo and behold, the song we did was a cover of ‘You’re My World,’ an Italian song — and it went to #1! It was about as good a start as you could get, really.

Was it liberating to have these two different avenues open to you as far as writing and creating music was concerned?

I don’t think I really looked at it that seriously back then. I was just curious to see how it would go. Obviously, after ‘You’re My World,’ we continued with different songs over the coming years. I don’t think it distracted from the band at all, and I know that they were quite happy for me to do it. I never ever considered leaving the band, so it worked out favourably. The two ran happily side-by-side, right up until the end of Sherbet in 1983.

Pop music is often considered a young person’s game, but by the time you were having that second wave of hits in the late ’80s and early ’90s you were on the verge of your 40s. Even nearly 30 years ago, you were considered a veteran.

When ‘As the Days Go By’ came out, I was 40-odd years old. I really thought I was on the end of the scale — maybe, just maybe, I’d be accepted in the pop realm. It ended up that I was, and so it continued on from there. The fact is I’m still doing it at 68. It’s weird… well, maybe not weird. It puzzles me. The fact is I still love it, and I think that’s got something to do with it. I’m enthusiastic about playing live. Even at the moment, it’s very enjoyable. We have lots of work, and I’m grateful that people still book me.

Were there any expectations that Edge and Rise would have the momentum and the commercial success that they did?

There was a lot riding on them. I did feel as though if it didn’t work, that’d be it. Where do you go from there? I had a listen to Edge after we finished it and thought we had a really good chance of getting acceptance in the pop world again. I had great faith in Simon Hussey, our producer. I don’t think we could have done better at the time for what we were doing. We were back out on the road, and so on it went.

It’s become a real cross-generational thing, with many younger people discovering your music – many of whom weren’t even born when your hits were released. How do you respond to having that be a part of your audiences in 2017?

From my point of view, it’s very exciting. Obviously, you question it — not in a bad way, but just trying to navigate the fact there’s a group of young people out there that enjoy what I play. They love ‘The Horses,’ ‘One Summer’… even ‘Howzat’ gets a great response. I don’t paint it in any other way than the fact that it makes me and the band feel good. To have an audience — young and old — enjoying what you do… you can’t help but be incredibly grateful.

Putting together Days Go By would have obviously sparked a lot of memories for you. How do you navigate nostalgia and retrospect – do you look back positively or critically when it comes to old recordings and videos?

I’m not really nostalgic as such. When the offer of doing the retrospective came up, I added that I wanted to include B-sides that I wrote. I listen to them now and think they sound a little shitty. [laughs] Still, maybe people haven’t heard them and would want to.

I wanted to draw a bit of attention away from ‘The Horses,’ as well. I still love it, and I still love performing it and the reaction that it gets. I just wanted to take the pressure off it a little bit. Hopefully, now this album’s out, I can look ahead to doing something new or something a little different. I’ve gotta make sure that I don’t get caught resting on my laurels.

Let’s take the attention off ‘The Horses,’ then. You’d know your own archive better than anyone – are there any particular deep cuts in either Sherbet’s or your own discography that you feel were under-appreciated or overlooked in their time?

The one that surprised me, looking back at The Sherbs’ catalogue, was ‘We Ride Tonight.’ That was sampled by Daft Punk on their song ‘Contact,’ and I just thought what they did with it was extraordinary. I’ve listened to it many times, and I came to appreciate the song itself was really, really good. We’ve started to play it with the band – we added it to the setlist about a year ago. It was so good to revisit that song. I don’t look back over the catalogue all that often, but it’s moments like that which make me think that I should.

Anything in particular you’d consider remastering and reissuing?

If I did, it’d be either of the first two Sherbet records; so Time Change and… [pauses] I’m trying to think what the second album was called, David!

That was On With The Show.

Very well done! [laughs] I really should know these things.

You’ve been singing and performing since you were a teenager — for 50 years now. When you’re young and starting out, there’s always this clear drive and confidence in what you’re doing. Obviously, a lot of things change in the intervening years — what have been some of the sole constants for you?

That’s a good question. I think, to a degree, the passion stays. Wanting to perform. Wanting people to like you. I still find that I want to sing as well as what I did when I was younger, as well. It’s hard to analyse, though, because your voice matures and sometimes you’re technically singing even better with more experience.

The perimeters are still the same — you want to play music for people to enjoy, and to get your own enjoyment out of it too. If you were playing music you didn’t like, it’d just be weird. That’s the beauty of being in a band — you can do whatever you like, and hopefully they like it out there as well.

David James Young is a freelance writer and podcaster. He tweets at @DJYwrites.