This Frontier Needs Heroes is the moniker of singer-songwriter Brad Lauretti, who in various forms has spent the past 10 years on an epic journey around the world, playing listening rooms, clubs, house concerts, and festival stages—selling one record at a time and making one fan at a time.
The latest stage of that journey has brought This Frontier Needs Heroes to Canada this summer for a massive 30-city coast-to-coast trek that kicked off June 1, set up with the help of the Halifax-based Side Door booking platform.
One night with Brad will run the gamut of all human emotions, from humour and hedonism to activism and heartbreaking sadness. Originally from Brooklyn, NY and now based in Nashville, TN, Brad has performed at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, Folk Alliance International, Magnolia Festival, Gram Parsons Guitar Pull, End of the Road (UK), Reeperbahn, and many other international events.
This Frontier Needs Heroes has released four albums: This Frontier Needs Heroes, The Future, Hooky, and the most recent, Real Job. The Canadian tour hits Montreal’s L’Escalier on June 10 and Toronto’s C’est What on June 16 before moving westward. For full dates and more info, go to thisfrontierneedsheroes.com.
You've just launched a pretty exhaustive Canadian tour. What are your impressions of our country?
I love Canada. For a long time, I couldn't afford to tour Canada because of visa restrictions, but they changed the law so last summer I came for a week of shows after booking a house concert in Jasper, Alberta, through Side Door. I had such a great time I wanted to go back and visit more provinces. So I started with New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia and it spiraled from there. I ended up booking about five weeks of shows, including 10 more shows with Side Door, with a week off in BC for a—shall I dare say—vacation. Most of my life falls into the “work-cation” zone where I don't get to truly rest, so I hope for some this time.
I decided a while back I was only going to tour in places that I wanted to see. I was in Banff, Alberta last year on Canada Day and as I was listening to CBC Radio, I was struck by all the people calling in and expressing their patriotism. I was blown away by how different it was from how things are in the US on the 4th of July. I found all the callers articulate, charming, and spiritual humanists with a deep respect for the natural world. So I admire Canada quite a bit. Plus I have lots of musician friends from Canada.
How would you describe your music to a potential listener?
My influences are all over the place, but I think of myself as a classic singer-songwriter in the Neil Young/John Prine/Townes Van Zandt tradition. Woody Guthrie was the songwriter who made me believe in myself and that I could write a song, travel the world, and sing it for people. Basically, the power that a song could have in changing the world. Sometimes I find myself in a more poetic, melancholy state, like recently when I wrote a song about a story that Leonard Cohen told about learning guitar. I studied Literature and Philosophy in college, so sometimes things can get dense. But usually, I try to write in a way that’s topical, simple, edgy and straight to the point: three chords and the truth.
What can you say about any new music you're working on?
I just recorded new songs for my fifth album that will be called Go With The Flow. I am working with producer Johnny Irion at his new studio The Stationery Factory in Dalton, Massachusetts. Johnny is someone who has played with some of the greatest musicians of our generation, but he still has that DIY ethos and a real passion for music. He uses a vintage Studer tape machine that he got from Jackson Browne’s studio in California. We’ve talked about how it’s just a different version of the 4-track tape recorders we used when we were teenagers when we had no agenda other than impressing our friends. Working with Johnny was amazing; he is a pretty impressive musician with a great ear and someone I connect with, love, and trust on a human level. Since I am an independent musician, I have to pay for everything myself, which can be a challenge, but I will start releasing new music soon.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
I have been living in Nashville for the last two years, but just recently lived in Barcelona, Spain. I felt like I needed some distance from reality and to just be in a beautiful poetic place to write the new album. So I wrote half the songs in Nashville and the other half in Barcelona. The way my life is, I never really stay anywhere very long.
What's your best touring story?
I have played shows in Tunisia, Colombia, Switzerland, in a beer barrel in Gothenburg, Sweden, and a house concert north of the Arctic Circle in Tromso, Norway. Honestly, I have a lot of stories, and I am thinking about writing a book. Seeing a bear on the side of the road in Banff sticks out, but mostly what I remember are the awesome people who host me and support independent music. Without them, I would not be able to tour at all. Hopefully, I will have some good ones for you after this summer in Canada!