“White with one” with Mike Brady

If you were to ask most Melburnians what name comes to mind when they think of Grand Final Day, it would most likely be Mike Brady and he’s never played the game! He is the author behind our greatest football anthem, Up There Cazaly, and it doesn’t matter if your team wins, loses or doesn’t even make the finals, as long as this song is played on the MCG on that one day in September (or sometimes October) all is well in the world. Peter caught up recently with Mike to talk Grand Final entertainment (don’t mention Meatloaf) and all things Melbourne.

Peter: How do you take your coffee?

Mike:

White with one.

Peter: Just like me.  

Mike:

I find cappuccinos too creamy and macchiatos too small. I’m now at 4 cups a day. The first is at 8.30am and nothing after 5pm, otherwise I can’t sleep that well.

Peter: What is your background?

Mike:

You might not realise but I’m English by birth but don’t hold that against me as I’m a real Aussie after all these years. I wanted to get in the entertainment business when I saw my Uncle perform at a pub back in the UK in 1958. I was 10 at the time and my first gig was 3 years later at a placed called St Joseph’s Hall in Rouse Street, Port Melbourne. I got a taste of it and then left school at 14 to pursue my dream and here I am today – still going. I’ve lived in Australia for many years now but I go back to the UK regularly to perform.

Peter: What have been some of your career highlights?

Mike:

I think I’m best known for Up There Cazaly as it certainly did change my life. Before it was released back in 1979 at the AFL Grand Final, I felt like a bit of an outsider, not being a local. However, I still remember the warmth I received from the audience at the MCG and that continues to this day. I really feel proud to be part of the community as I think the song has become part of our national identity in terms of how we relate to sport.

Peter: I think it’s up there (bad pun I know!) with songs like Waltzing Matilda, I Still Call Australia Home and Land Down Under as an iconic Australian song. How many times have you sung it and do you ever get sick of it?

Mike:

No, I can honestly say I don’t because of the reaction it gets every time I do. I love it when everyone sings along. I also call Cazaly my superannuation, as it does help pay the bills.

Peter: And long may that continue! Why is Melbourne such a great city to host major music events? 

Mike:

I’m glad you’ve specified music events as that is my passion. I think it goes all the way back to the 1950’s when we were in many ways the leading city with jazz and a music culture was born. We couldn’t even drink at venues back then so the music had to be good. Now you can go see such a variety of live music in all sorts of venues and I want it to develop even more.

Peter: What is your favourite venue to watch a music event?

Mike:

Any venue big or small where the sound production is adequate for the size of the audience, and for the act.  Too many acts, including overseas big names, skimp on the production and sound awful, especially in big stadiums. It is usually their call.

Peter: What is your favourite event to attend in Melbourne? 

Mike:

There are so many but I’ve got to say the Melbourne Cup. For me, it’s a great big party with a horse race stuck in the middle. There are a group of friends I go with and we use it as an excuse for an annual reunion. The AFL Grand Final of course is very special too and I do enjoy it – once I’ve done my performance and I can relax.

Peter: Who are some of your most admired Melburnians?

Mike:

Coming from an arts perspective, people like Dick Hamer for his foresight, vision and drive in the development of our Art Centre Precinct Melbourne and the Pratt Family family for their extraordinary support of the Performing Arts in Melbourne and Victoria.  And the many beneficiaries who support the many ongoing arts programs.  Melbourne is more than just sport and that’s important for that makes Melbourne so diverse. If I was to select a sports person, it would definitely be Ron Barassi and John Landy as I believe they represent all that is great about our city.

Peter: What does Melbourne need that it doesn’t already have?

Mike:

Probably more of a belief in itself and a better strategy for the future. We need to build on our heritage but always be on the lookout for what makes us great. I think we all get caught up in the short term fix, rather than the long term strategy. We need to build more on our arts culture than our sports culture as there is a bad imbalance at the moment in my opinion.

Peter: What is your favourite Melbourne restaurant? 

Mike:

Far too many to name one but I will anyway. France-Soir has always been a favourite of mine as the food and atmosphere are great.

Peter: Does Melbourne need an iconic landmark? 

Mike:

I don’t think so and in particular, I’m not a fan of the Ferris Wheel. That’s ok for Sydney or the Gold Coast but for Melbourne? No thank you!  For me it’s all about our people who make this city great. You can have great buildings but without great people, it’s going to be very empty.

Peter: Mike thank you for your time today and we look forward to working with you again on Grand Final Day.  

Mike Brady

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