Troy Cassar-Daley is a proud Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung man. This year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival is a day artists, agents, managers and public love. Its also a time of acknowledging the achievements artists, families and the record industry has come through after a tough 2yrs under COVID. 2022 Toyota 50th Golden Guitar Awards, see Troy topping the list with 8 nominations including Album of the Year and Male Artist of the Year.
Troy’s album is called, The World Today. Troy’s songs have been the soundtrack to the everyday triumphs, struggles and good times for Australians from our small towns to the big cities and this upcoming record is no different. It’s testament to the longstanding career of the 50th inductee into the prestigious Australasian Roll Of Renown, who has also been awarded numerous accolades including 37 Golden Guitars, 4 ARIAs, 3 APRA Song of the Year awards, 9 Deadlys (Australian Indigenous Artist Awards), 4 CMAA Entertainer of the Year awards plus 2 NIMAs (National Indigenous Music Awards). Troy is my special guest today at 8.30am…When you think country music you think Troy Cassar-Daley.
In 2021, ‘The World Today’ is more than a title, it’s a prescient statement reflecting Troy’s world, the world around him and, quite possibly, aspects of your world too. This new collection of songs stem from Troy’s story and his artist’s ability to write about a bigger picture that affects us all. On The World Today, Troy deals with loss, acceptance and ‘story’, all while finding a will to grow stronger and move forward.
“An old uncle of mine used to say ‘it’s not all beer and skittles’ and that saying is so true. Over the last couple of years the family life and work life balance that I’d always had, shifted. It became a monumental struggle. The thing that suffered most out of all this was my marriage to Laurel and our kids having to witness their parent’s relationship slowly falling apart and I didn’t know how to fix it.
“On top of that I lost my Dad in 2019. People knew of his passing but what I didn’t share is that he took his own life. It hit me incredibly hard and I feel I didn’t give myself the time to grieve. “Then came Covid and that’s when I really hit rock bottom. Everything I’d known and loved was being taken away, I’d lost my Dad, I was losing my marriage and now I’d lost my ability to provide for my family. Recording the album had been put on hold and I had no gigs. I felt hopeless and my purpose was lost. Once again… music was my salvation.
“The first part of my day was to just feel sorry for myself. That would last about ten minutes. Then I’d have breakfast, have a great coffee, and get on with it and stop being such a sad sack. I’d sit in my studio and try and use all that angst and the feeling of loss and channel it into playing music.
“I found myself hiding in the studio for hours on end, trying to write my way out of the dark cloud that had descended on me, and I slowly found the answers in simply creating songs.” The studio Troy describes is a space that is littered with equipment. There’s a drum kit, recording gear, vintage microphones, old photos stuck to a pin board that highlight his journey and the two guitars he wrote most of the album on, a 1942 Martin 00-18 acoustic and a Truman Strat styled electric. Both were gifts that were put to good use and hard work, they were rarely put down as well as incredibly inspirational.
So, after wading through emotional molasses, one morning while fixing and painting another kitchen chair, Laurel turned to Troy and said “you need to go and make this record”
The drought had broken.
One phone call to Producer Matt Fell and the flood gates were open. While Troy leads the song writing charge on The World Today, he has also worked with Australian songwriting royalty in the process. Take a look at the credits and you’ll spot alongside Troy’s own name the likes of Don Walker, Paul Kelly, Kevin Bennett, Shane Howard, Greg Storer and Ian Moss.
A proud Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung man, the first single Back On Country heralded what we could expect from The World Today. As with everything on the record, Troy – as a songwriter – also had his antennae up … looking for inspiration.
“I had a really lovely conversation with a mate of mine while fishing off Moreton Island,” he says of the song’s genesis. “He told me the story of a young non-Indigenous bloke who loved this surf spot so much that he got the satellite navigation coordinates tattooed on his chest. I thought ‘Wow, he’s got the same connection to country as me, and he’s not Indigenous’. He’s just someone that loves the place and wants to look after it, and that’s exactly what we all should be doing. This single really was written after that conversation. The single’s really special. It stood out to me when we recorded it.”
The World Today is Troy’s 11th studio album. Highlights on the record include Heart Like A Small Town, I Hear My River, My Heart Still Burns For You (a paean to his wife Laurel who he also got to sing harmonies on), the one-two punch of the prison songs about Troy’s cousins.
These songs deal with the stories of those that are close to him. Parole and Doin’ Time’ are stark reminders of incarceration and of the challenges facing many men and women today.
Having co-written HQ454′ with Don Walker for Cold Chisel’s No Plans album and Shutting Down Our Town for Jimmy Barnes’ My Criminal Record, Troy has a deep kinship with the band that goes back before the days he opened for Mossy on his Matchbook Tour in 1989. Troy also joined Chisel on their national tour in 2020, and that was a full circle moment for him.
No less a critic that Paul Kelly compared the rawness of the demo of the song How You Fall, (where Troy played every instrument on the demo), to Neil Young and Crazy Horse. “These loose arsed demos were exactly what I’d sent, one at a time, to the incredibly talented producer and long-time friend Matt Fell. Matt saw the honesty and vulnerability in these songs straight away and I instantly felt we were going to make something special.
“On a guitar playing front, I was thrilled to play a heap more solos in particular on electric. I’ve written for Cold Chisel and Jimmy Barnes over the last five to ten years and those influences come through on The World Today. As a guitar player, I wanted to express myself a bit more, and having Ian Moss on this record gave me a bit more confidence in my playing and Matt Fell’s encouragement was extremely important” After writing the song The World Today, there was little doubt in Troy’s mind that it would become the title track.
“I had the bare bones of the song and kept re-writing it over and over until I was happy with what I wanted to say. “When the George Floyd incident happened, that was it for me. I thought I need to put this in there. I need to raise awareness to everyone who can listen to this song that this is not right. This is not the world we want. “I got to the last verse. I’d lost a friend through suicide and had also lost my Dad the same way.”
“Like it says in the song, ‘Your children need you here to play, that’s what we’ve got to do for the world today’”. That, to Troy, was the message and he knew this had to be the title track.
“The last few years made me realise that no one and nothing in life is perfect and at any time it can become derailed if you don’t nurture what matters. I know that’s what we all strive for but we have to be realistic and face the pain and the shit that comes with life but the most important thing making it through. This record is really about that. “My old uncle was right, ‘it’s not all beer and skittles’, but I feel alive again after making this record and more aware of everything and everyone around me. Bring on more beer and skittles, I say”