Hal Bruce, musician
everywhere we go there are differences in culture but the kindness that most people show is pretty universal. I think that’s pretty cool ...
Hal Bruce, Canadian singer, songwriter, musician and producer, loves The Beatles more than most. Not only does he know every The Beatles song ever recorded but he set a world record in 2004 performing all 214 tracks back-to-back in a continuous medley. Hal is coming to the Gold Coast for the first time to perform at Cooly Rocks On from June 3 to 13.
The word on the street is that you know every single recorded track from The Beatles, is that true?
I do! I actually set a world record by performing all 214 The Beatles songs in a non-stop medley, I’ve done it a few times and every time I do it I say it is the last time because it’s actually not a lot of fun. I do it to watch the people in the audience and it’s fun that way but mentally it’s draining because depending on the time you’re given, you could be given an hour and a half or four hours, but it’s pretty impossible to do any amount of any song in that time. If you have 214 songs to get through in an hour and a half, it’s like 20-seconds per song. You don’t have a chance to really chill-out and enjoy the song because you’re thinking too much about the next part.
Wow, that’s amazing! What is it about the music of The Beatles that you love so much?
I love their harmonies, their vocals were just incredible, John and Paul especially. The way they crafted their songs, the vibrancy of their up-tempo songs and the gentleness of the softer songs. When something was bluesy it was really bluesy, it was over-the-top, everything. I was old enough to witness The Beatles for the first time on TV in 1964 so I understand the power that they had over everybody in the world. They were the first to write all of their own material, to sing it, to play it in these crazy keys and to not have one vocal guy. They really were revolutionary.
Obviously there was six of them but only one of you, how challenging is it for you to try and recreate that sound of the whole band?
I’ve got little tricks that I use, not computerised tricks but you can simulate a little bit of bass guitar, a little bit of lead and rhythm at the same time if you’re clever.
Congratulations on your new record Rock Steady Line, can you tell us about the album?
Well it’s a ten-song album of all of my own material and I wrote each song in a different country. I wrote one in the Netherlands, one in Italy, one in England, one in parts of the United States and in Cuba. I haven’t done an original album in quite some time, so I figured it was about time.
Did writing the songs in different countries have an impact on the end result of the album?
Not really. I was on tour last fall and I started writing whenever I had some downtime so it had nothing to do with me being in a particular country, it was more to do with time. There’s only one song that has a hint of inspiration from where I was and that was in Cuba. Basically the song is about breaking out of daily habits just to get away for a while.
You’re coming out to Australia for Cooly Rocks On 2016, what are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Australia?
I don’t know, I haven’t played on the Gold Coast before. I’ve heard it’s beautiful so we’re looking forward to it but honestly I just want to play the gigs. I want to do music, that’s what I am there for. I want to show people what I can do, it’s what I live for.
What inspires you creatively and musically?
Ever since I was a kid The Beatles were the big thing for me. When I was a teen I wanted to basically not be them but be just as popular, which I never achieved but I’m happy where I am now. I’ve had a certain amount of success in different parts of the world but I can walk down the street and not be recognised, which is kind of cool. I’m not like a house-hold name at all but whenever I tour the concerts seem to go well, they buy the CD’s and I get to talk to some pretty interesting people.
How does it feel to still be making music and travelling the world after all these years in the business?
It feels better now that I’m in my thirties than in my twenties. I probably enjoy it more now than I did when I had my band years ago. I kind of do things at my own pace, I still work a lot but I like it. You folks have Tommy Emmanuel right? Well, I’m not as fast as him but I have a certain style that people seem to like. I’ve found my little niche that seems to work.
You’ve travelled the world delighting audiences from Argentina to Australia and have been included in three Halls Of Fame between 2006 and 2015, what have been some of the career highlights?
The people I’ve met along the way have been my career highlights. John Lennon’s sister, Julia, is a good friend of mine, she’s come to our house a few times. I had the chance to go on stage and sing with Jefferson Starship, which is a huge band from the 1960s. So many things, playing all over the world has been another highlight. Australia was one of the countries that was on my bucket list when I was very young and I’ve been very fortunate to play there three times now. I know people in Australia that are itching to bust out, I want to bust in! A lot of these countries have really taken me in and welcomed me into their culture, that blows me away. It seems like everywhere we go there are differences in culture but the kindness that most people show is pretty universal. I think that’s pretty cool.