GONGERS WITH GUITARS: CHAD BROWNLEE INTERVIEW (GONGSHOW EXCLUSIVE)

The lifestyle of a professional hockey player and a  professional rockstar can be pretty similar. Nobody knows that better than former Vancouver Canuck and current country music star Chad Brownlee. This Gonger is really living the dream by kicking ass in both these career paths.

I got the chance to chat with Brownlee for a little bit and we talked music, puck and what he likes to do in the shower. Take a look.

Tell me a little bit what it was to get drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 2003.

Chad Brownlee: It meant everything to me at the time. When a moment like that happens, it’s really surreal. You remember everything about it, like where you were and who you were with. It was the moment of a lifetime and I will never forget it.

Did music always play a big part of your life, even while you were playing hockey?

CB: It played a huge part of my life, even further back than that. I started playing piano when I was eight and picked up the tenor sax in middle school. It was always a huge part of my life and a more of a relief than just a hobby. A relief from hockey at the time and something to get away to.

How is hockey still a part of your life today, even though your passion has changed to country music?

CB: I’m a bigger fan of the game now than I ever had been before. I watch SportsCentre religiously and I get on the ice whenever I can. Honestly, I’m enjoying the sport a lot more now being a fan.

You’re living the Gonger dream. Compare the rockstar lifestyle with the professional hockey player lifestyle.

CB: There are a lot of parallels like being on the road and having to perform in front of thousands of people every night. But the physical side of the music industry just isn’t as intense. I guess my body’s thanking me for that now.

Who is your favorite team and favorite players to follow in the game?

CB: Vancouver will always be my favorite team and I’m a big fan of Trevor Linden. I idolized guys like Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic.

What was it like going from a hockey career to a music career?

CB: I’m a bit of a dream chaser for sure. I follow what I love to do, but I can’t say the transition was super easy. I took some time to re-identify myself. For some people, it was all of a sudden he wants to be a musician and it was hard for them to take me seriously. But I’m doing what I love.

What have been some of your favorite places to perform?

CB: Touring has allowed me to visit places around Canada that I’ve never seen before. I played at Prince Edward Island at a festival in July. There’s just so many little pockets all across Canada and the fans in those towns really make it for me. I get to experience the landscapes of a lot of different places.

How big of a Gonger are you?

CB: Literally as we speak, I’m sitting here in Gongshow sweatpants and a Gongshow hoodie. It’s pretty much my tour uniform. I wear it everyday.

What are your favorite songs to sing  in the shower?

CB: “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks, anything by Neil Young and whatever little tune is floating through my head that I’m working on.

Welcome to the new site!

We’re still tweaking a few things, so bare with us, but we now have a fan area where you can sign up and post to the forum, leave messages for Chad and chat with other fans.

Chad will be hitting the road to start the Dierks Bentley tour and is looking forward to seeing you all, so make sure to say hi to him at a show!

Also, the video chat was postponed as there was much to do before the Dierks tour, but we’ll be announcing the rescheduled date shortly, so keep sending in your questions for chad to fanmail@chadbrownlee.com.

Lastly, for today only, grab yourself the DIGITAL download of Chad’s new album ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ for only $5.99. This is a release day price, so grab it while you can, because at midnight it will go back to the regular price of $9.99.

There’s more good things to come, so keep checking back!

$9.99

The Hockey Guys Interview

Chad Brownlee, Living The Dream; His Dream
By Bill Kellett

“Shut your eyes when the book is closed, and the pages will be written. How do you want your story told, after the long road is driven?”

When asked to describe a verse that best describes him, Chad Brownlee offered up the above, from his song “Another Page is Written” and to know Brownlee, it seems consistent with the way his amazing journey has gone.

For those of you not familiar with Brownlee, he has become a rising star in Canadian country music who is garnering more and more attention as his career kicks into high gear. Brownlee enjoyed a top-10 hit with his song Day After You from his 2010 self-titled debut album and his anticipated new release is Love Me or Leave Me, due out in mid-February and the title track has been available on iTunes since September and has also reached top-10 status.

This is all well and good of course, but I’m sure at this point you are asking yourself who is Chad Brownlee and why are we reading about him on a hockey site? Well read on and the connection will become much more clear.

Brownlee was born in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada and like every kid that treads on Canadian soil; he had a dream to be a pro hockey player.

From the age of five Brownlee had ambitions to play the game he and his country loved. Brownlee managed to find his way to Junior A hockey with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL. He was a 6’2 defenceman who played a steady stay at home game and was attracting some attention from the pro leagues. In 2003 after recording 24 points in his second season with Vernon, Brownlee was drafted in the 6th round 190th overall in the NHL Draft by his hometown Vancouver Canucks.

It is a moment that Brownlee will remember for a lifetime. “I can’t even explain the feeling,” said Brownlee. “It was pure elation. Felt like a real accomplishment.”

Nine years after being drafted, Brownlee recalls it like it was yesterday. After all it’s not every day that the team you idolized growing up drafts you.

Following his draft year Brownlee went to Minnesota State University and played hockey but also studied music. He was able to combine his two passions. It was during his time there that Brownlee got his first taste of musical success.

In his fourth year at the University he wrote a song called “The Hero I See” which was a homage to a young nine year old boy who lost his battle with Leukemia.

“The young boy was named Anthony Ford and he loved hockey more than anything in the world,” explains Brownlee. The song earned Brownlee the NCAA Humanitarian award. The foundation helps underprivileged children play hockey and it’s an organization Brownlee still believes in today.

As his time at MSU went on it was becoming more and more apparent that his hockey career was becoming more of a fantasy. He enjoyed writing his music and although he had never released any of it to that point, it was becoming a passion to surpass hockey. It was around this time that Brownlee was informed by the Vancouver Canucks that he was not in their plans. He decided it best to move on and in 2007-08 played 35 games for the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. It was during a game in that season that his life would change forever.

“I was sitting on the bench just watching the clock and the minutes tick down and wanting the game to be over. I’d lost the passion within me,” Brownlee said. That was the moment Chad Brownlee knew that hockey was not his career path.

It was soon after that game he made a bold and very courageous decision, he was done with hockey and decided instead to focus all of his energy on music. Although he had a few songs written, they were all personal and he was not about to release them; most of the songs were written for friends or family. Brownlee had to go about it the hard way, hitting every open mic night he could, slowly making connections within the business.

His hard work finally paid off when he hooked up with Mitch Merrett to produce his self-titled debut album in 2010. Though it did not make an impact in the U.S. it was an instant success in Canada and that’s just fine with Brownlee. His goal is to make his music not to experience instant stardom.

This humble approach to life is evident in all Brownlee does. As a hockey player he idolized the quiet leader — the Trevor Linden’s, Joe Sakic’s and Steve Yzerman’s of the sport. His songs display a very laid back introspective look into life and often delve into the areas that we hide from. His music touches many and his greatest joy is seeing the impact his music has had on others. The greatest parallel he can draw from his two careers is both come with adoration. Music fills empty places within us and in some instances soothe us, whereas hockey allows one to be an idol, to be adored by children and forget about whatever woes a person has. That says Brownlee has been the greatest thrill of his life, to see that he has that kind of influence into people’s lives.

Despite his rising success and busier and busier schedule though, Brownlee still finds plenty of time to watch his favourite sport and his beloved Canucks. In fact he claims that hockey is a bigger part of his life now than it ever was.

“I blocked it out of my life for about the first year but now I watch it more than ever.” Brownlee even calls into sports talk shows occasionally. It may not be playing but it may be the next best thing to watch the game as a fan.

Brownlee has no regrets; some people would be bitter that their childhood dream did no come true, some would have kept playing just to prove to themselves they were still relevant in the sport, but not the humble Brownlee he walked away and took a chance and came out the other side a better man.

When asked if he made the right decision?

“Not a single ounce of doubt.”

He truly has come to terms with his past and is reaching heights he never thought possible.

It may be a far cry from the outdoor rinks in -15 temperatures and from the thrill of being selected by your favourite team in the draft, but the music of Brownlee has been the perfect consolation prize and he has successfully channeled his hockey energy to his music. It is evident in his songs, the passion he has for it and as his second studio album can attest to, he’s pretty darn good at it.