ROUTES & BRANCHES
"A Soldier's Burden"
I believe I've told this story before. I received a copy of Brett Detar's 2010 solo debut, Bird In the Tangle, carried it around, lost it, found it again, but never got around to spinning it. It's one of those promotional CDs with such a thin spine that it's easy to misplace, which I promptly did. Weeks, maybe months later, I was "cleaning up my desk" and gathering some wayward and forgotten CDs I wanted to give one last try. I came across Brett's album, finally played it, and it immediately became a favorite. Then I lost it again ...
Brett Detar's story is far more interesting. A talented guitarist, he began touring with a metal group, Zao, fresh out of high school. On a lark, he began fooling around on a side project which soon became Juliana Theory. That band became so successful that they toured together for nearly a decade, garnering a fiercely devoted fan base. Sometime during The Juliana Theory's reign, Detar became enamored with country music, beginning when he overheard a cassette copy of Johnny Cash's At San Quentin recording, then exploding from there until it was all he listened to on the tour bus. When Juliana Theory disbanded, Brett Detar seriously considered leaving the music world behind. In his wanderings, he carried a pocket recorder onto which he could record song ideas. Those skeletons of tunes became Bird In the Tangle, such a genuine roots music statement that it's difficult to imagine its genesis could be traced to an emo band's tour bus.
Early this month, an email arrived from Detar offering an update of sorts. Therein, he described writing music for a successful film, "holing up like a hermit in the recording studio" and undergoing the haircut of his life. He also generously offered the download for a brand new song, "A Soldier's Burden". The song is another beautiful piece, inspired in part by stories his father would tell about his tour of duty in Vietnam. It's reportedly just one of a series of new songs that could make up a second album sometime soon.
Fortunately, Brett Detar was also kind enough to take time to answer our DEPARTURES questions, the first artist to do so in 2013! To my delight, he put some thought into it and wrote some really nice responses below.
Hometown: Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Favorite Music As a Youngster: My father played a lot of old doo-wop and Motown stuff around the
house when I was really young. I remember he had this locked wooden box
that he made for himself to hold all of his old vinyl singles. I loved
those little records and thought the box of music was a very special
thing, in fact, it was almost mystical to me. I recall one day he let
me pick all of my favorite singles and we recorded them from record to
cassette so I could listen to them in my Walkman on the bus to and from
school. My dad was always whistling and singing and he sang in a
traveling gospel group. I distinctly remember being at one of their
rehearsals when I was probably 5 years old. As a youngster, music was
always in my life and in my heart. I loved it from as long as I can
Your Five Favorite Albums:
I'm going to have to go with my all time top 5...
Fugazi - In On The Killtaker
Johnny Cash - Live at San Quentin
Iron Maiden - Powerslave (it's the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place)
Hank Williams - The Complete Box Set
Neil Young - Harvest
Lyric You Wish You'd Written: "Men With Broken Hearts" by Hank Williams - to me - is the most
powerful set of lyrics I've ever heard. I wish I had written any line
from that song. Just pick one!
Best Concert You've Seen: This is a really hard one... I've seen too many great shows:
Loretta Lynn is always incredible and it blows my mind how powerful her
voice still is even as she's getting older. Bjork with a 54 piece
orchestra at Radio City Music Hall was pretty great. Levon Helm at his
Midnight Ramble is something I will never forget. Rush was my first
arena concert and that stands out because it seemed larger than life to
me at the time. Portishead was incredible. Elliott Smith was awesome -
R.I.P. Really, there are too many here to even pick. I wish I could
have seen the Louvin Brothers in their prime - I was fortunate enough to
see Charlie before he passed away but I don't think two people have
ever sung better together and I wish I could have seen them live back
before I was born.
What's In Your Player Recently: Lately I've been listening to almost nothing but film scores. I'm into the new one from Shovels & Rope too.