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Brendan Gallagher

Karma Country
lead singer Brendan Gallagher has some interesting Bowie connections.
Survive (1999)

In September 1999 Brendan was asked by British producer Marius de Vries (Bjork, Neil Finn, Madonna) to play guitar on his re-mix of David Bowie's 'Survive'.

The song, from Bowie's Hours album, was released as a single in Europe, USA and UK in January 2000.

Speaking with Bowie Downunder, Brendan explained:

"We recorded guitars at Fish Tank, Josh Abraham's space at the old Festival Studios in Pyrmont in Sydney. Josh engineered and I did all the guitar parts, acoustics, electric slide etc. Maz (Marius de Vries) played the piano. Jeremy Allom mixed it at the old 301 studios in Castlereagh St. in Sydney."

Open Tuning

David Bowie was also a known user of Brendan's book Open Tuning Chord Book For Guitar (orange book pictured right with David Bowie, along with BDU member Michael Dwyer).

"When I met Bowie in 2002,  Brendan had given me his open chord book to give to the great man.

Bowie recognised Brendan's name immediately."

~ Michael Dwyer
Reality Backstage (2004)

In February, 2004, Gallagher was invited backstage by David Bowie at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

"I got to meet DB back stage.

He was charm itself and we talked about his live recordings in late '70s featuring Earl Slick who was with him on that tour.

A journo friend of mine gave DB a copy of my Open Tuning Chord Book For Guitar in 2002 when he was interviewing him.

[Bowie remembered] me playing on Maz's remix and  said:  ‘what a super book, this is such fun. I could use this for the next album'."

"In Sydney I asked him if I could use the quote, and he said sure, no problem. So it now graces the back cover [of Open Tuning Chord Book for Guitar].

It makes a very proud guitar player, even if the record company forgot to credit me on Survive CD."

~ Brendan Gallagher
The Story of the Marius de Vries Survive Remix

I believe this story  came from the now defunct Teenage Wildlife website.

by Brendan Gallagher.....

"I was at the after show party for the ARIA awards (read antipodean GRAMMYs) in Sydney in october '99. Aboriginal music legend Jimmy Little had just picked up two gongs for his album 'Messenger' which is a left-field collection of seminal Australian compositions from the last 20 years e.g. Nick Cave, Crowded House, the Church, Paul Kelly etc. Jimmy is an amazing singer who has been making records since 1956 and at 63 has made a serious comeback. He is considered very cool over here right now.

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself since I produced and recorded the album at my place at Bondi Beach. So I was having a large one or three. Also feeling very happy with himself was Jeremy Allom who had mixed 'Messenger', as well as two albums for my band Karma County. Jeremy's claim to fame, amongst others, is that he mixed most of Massive Attack's 'Blue Lines' album including "Unfinished Sympathy". Killer sound man.

Jeremy bails me up, Crown Lager (the king of beers) in hand and says I have to come and meet Maz. That's Marius de Vries to you. They're old mates from Blighty. Maz is out here as musical director for 'Moulin Rouge' a film by Baz Luhrman ('Romeo and Juliet' etc.). So, Jeremy introduces me to Maz and commends me to him as a guitarist for some project he's working on. And what would that be? Oh, I'm doing a re-mix for a Bowie single. Who, Fred Bowie? No, David Bowie!

This is at 3 am and several hours into a serious lager frenzy under the southern cross. Incredulous is too soft a word. But it all checked out in the clear light of the next day and a fortnight later I found myself in the studio with all my guitars and Maz behind the desk.

Maz had a great idea of re-introducing several of db's music periods into his production of Survive. A bit of Space Oddity acoustic guitar, some Mick Ronson electric rhythm circa  Jean Genie and a bit of angular Adrian Belew kind of stuff as well. So we got out the old albums and did some research. Then we isolated all the original guitar parts (sorry Reeves) and started from scratch.

Maz is a very good producer in that he is very relaxed and has a kind of non specific directional approach i.e. he doesn't tell you so much which notes to play but more how to play them. While I was in the studio putting down the acoustic parts he was in the control room bouncing a tennis ball from one hand to the other while motioning through the glass at appropriate times where and when to accent. Very amusing. He has a very good ear, though, and at one point pulled me up on a bit of dodgy chord phrasing. Well spotted. I'm a slide player and I got to double db's horn line. I had a very big, seriously over-distorted sound and I just kept going on over the outro with this big slide harmonic feedback until they came in and woke me up. Maz then got me to reference the spiralling high end squeals at the end of Space Oddity  with the slide up the neck of the guitar and I was done. Maz laid down some very  Aladdin Sane piano chops to finish off. All in one take might I add. Guitar buffs might like to note that all my parts are played in 'vastopol' tuning i.e. D A D F# A D low to high.

 I got to sit in on the mix at Sydney's 301 a couple of weeks later with Jeremy and Maz at the controls. It was quite an historic occasion as the techs were standing by to pull the studio apart and move to a new location. 301 has been host to all manner of great Australian artists and internationals like Prince, Duran Duran and lots more. This was the last mix.

I love how Maz reworked Survive. I think it has great drama and a quite ethereal quality. It's also big and fat and warm. That's Jeremy's trademark. I haven't heard it since then so I'm drawing heavily from memory. It's not being released in Australia so I'm waiting for my import copy from Virgin. I bumped into Jeremy recently and he said there was a problem with the 301 mix and so he and Maz did it again not long after at Dodgy Sound. Oh to be a fly on the wall at Virgin HQ when the master came in from the colonies with THAT stamped on it.

Anyway, that's my story. Let me tell you, it was a great honour to be sitting in that studio listening to the Duke's voice in my cans while I played along. Outstanding!"

~ Brendan Gallagher

Karma Country

Karma Country 'Dexter & Sinastra' (2004) with Bryan Brown