Interview with Julian Austin

Prior to taking the stage for Fredericton's New Brunswick day celebrations, I had a chance to sit down and talk to one of the fastest rising stars in Canadian Country Music today, Julian Austin. Julian, who now resides in Calgary, says he still has a strong love and connection to the area he grew up in.

GB - This year your nominated for six Canadian Country Music Association Awards. Did all the multiple nominations surprise you?

JA - Well we've been plugging since I got signed in 96. I didn't think we would be nominated for quite that many though. We've been touring this country end to end quite a few times too. It is nice as we have a fresh new album out as well.

GB - Did it disappoint you to hear that the CBC or CTV are not televising the show this year?

JA - Yes, country music is a big part of our heritage. The Juno Awards are in there too. It's kind of sad this year it's not going to be aired after 14 years of being televised. I'm going to be optimistic and think someone somehow is going to write a big check and save the day at the last minute. Maybe Shania Twain, as she has hundreds of millions of dollars, so I don't think five hundred grand to her would be much. She could write it off and them sell another thirteen million albums. (laughs)

GB- On your latest album you do a cover of a 70's Steve Miller Band song. Do you think the line is being blurred as to what is country music, with all the recent fusion of pop and rock with it?

JA - Well I'm an old rocker. I grew up with everything from Aerosmith, Pink Floyd to Iron Maiden, you name it. I'll get up tonight and play some Pink Floyd but my heart and soul is in country music. I fell in love with country music. I've been wanting to take an old classics like Merle Haggard and George Jones and do one of their songs on my album. I think with Steve Miller it's just a song that I liked and I recorded, but don't think I did anything to help where county music is going at the moment. On my next album I really want to me be more country. There is not much true country any more except for some of the acts like Allan Jackson, George Straight, Randy Travis, these are people in the male division that come across as old school country with their sound. I think 1989 to 1996 everything was good for country music, and then personally I think it went down hill after that

GB - Do you feel country music is on a down slide right now?

JA - It's on very much of a downside right now yes. Sales are hurting. Attendance at our shows has been wonderful though, thank God. A lot of different styles of music right now are hurting but country music is in that lull.

GB - Have you noticed the radio station Country KHJ here in Fredericton has been bumped down to the AM dial?

JA - Yes, KHJ is one of the first stations that played my music. Actually Brent Buchanan was the first DJ to play my music and push for it. Tom Blizzard and everyone at KHJ too. It's kind of a special station for me out of all the other ones in Canada. When I came back home I was looking for 105 FM and it's a classic rock station and I had to find it on 103.5 AM and the signals weak. I'm not happy about that. It defiantly is a great county station and had a great signal and it should go back to that. I don't think they were hurting and I think they had a lot of listeners.

GB - You come across as a very open and honest person, in both your music and personal life. Is that just a part of your personality?

JA - Ya well that's just me. To be a better person sometimes the pain and hurt and the bad mistakes you make, if your willing to change and have a different plan for the future it makes you a better person and it's still a part of who you are. I don't shy away from the fact that I've had hard times in my life like a lot of us. Unemployment, I've been on welfare, I've been working construction and been a blue collar worker. I know what it's like to bring home a pay cheque and it's all part of evolving as you get older. It was a great foundation for me to set my vision as to where I wanted to be in life. With my music anyway.

GB - Have you fully recovered from you bull riding accident now?

JA - I'm good. It's kind of sad. I look back at doing that and surviving and being stepped on a few times. We have lost a couple of great Canadian bull riders just this year with the same kind of injuries, being stepped on. They didn't pull through and they died. It's sad and I thank my lucky stars I had a chance to feel the rush and be a wanna-be cowboy and walk away from that.

GB - I understand you met your wife backstage at a Michelle Wright concert?

JA - Yes, I met her with my second cousin who I met for the first time. She came back stage and over time we kept dating and seeing each other but I'd shy away, wanting to be the single guy, but eventually over time her Bambi eyes won me over. (laughs) Brent Buchanan at KHJ was my best man as I was his best man.

Interview done August, 2000 in Fredericton, NB

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