FORMER Radiators drummer Mick Buckley knew full well the excess and debauchery of rock'n'roll from his time pounding the skins with one of Australia's hardest-working pub bands in the mid-1980s.
So decades later when his three kids Sarah, Lachlan and Molly expressed a desire to follow their old man's musical footsteps, he steered them towards country. Today The Buckleys are one of Australia's brightest young country-pop acts.
"Dad was in the rock'n'roll industry in the '80s and we kind of saw all the ups and downs and rough side of that and when we were growing up," Sarah says, as she jokes her father's Radiators history is a "cheeky secret".
"We were saying, 'we want to play music', and he saw country music and the family values, so he felt it was a bit safer, so he pushed us in that direction a little bit."
That brings a laugh from all three siblings before Molly pipes up with, "he doesn't know, but the country crowd is pretty rowdy."
On a 2011 family holiday Mick drove the kids from Byron Bay to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. At the time Sarah was 11, Lachlan 10 and Molly 9. They made an instant impact.
The Buckleys finished top-10 in a 600-strong busking contest, which they didn't even realise was a competition.
"We thought we were busking for petrol money home or something," Molly jokes.
Over the next few years The Buckleys continued to develop their craft, while Sarah began making regular trips to Nashville from 16 to attend songwriting workshops.
Sarah co-wrote Strawberry Footprints, the closing track on Felicity Urquhart's 2019 album Frozen Rabbit and later that year the trio travelled to Nashville to make their debut album Daydream with two-time Grammy Award-winning producer Chad Carlson (Taylor Swift, Jewel).
But the biggest break of their career came courtesy of Chris Murphy, the business genius behind INXS.
In 2019 The Buckleys signed with Murphy's Petrol Records - a joint venture with US-based Universal Music - joining INXS as the only other act on the label.
Murphy heard The Buckleys' music through a mutual industry contact and invited the trio to his Sugar Beach Ranch at nearby Ballina where they forged their business relationship over hot dogs and milkshakes.
"It was insane the day we found out he wanted to have a meeting with us," Molly says. "We've always been gobsmacked by it.
"It was such an incredible honour for him to want to talk to us and be part of that journey."
Under Murphy's tutelage The Buckleys released four top-five singles - Daydream, I'm Comin' For Ya (Love), Money and Breathe and - in the Australian Country charts.
The singles would all appear on The Buckleys' debut album Daydream, which was released last September.
The bright and sunny mix of country, pop, indie rock and folk has been described as "hippie country" and led to rave reviews from respected publications American Songwriter and Rolling Stone.
The release was delayed by COVID and the pandemic also prevented The Buckleys from touring to capitalise on their swelling fan base.
With state borders open and festivals and touring slowly becoming possible again, The Buckleys are hopeful of making up for lost time.
Sadly Murphy won't be around to see the three-piece's success. On January 16 Murphy died aged 66 after a battle with cancer.
"We were obviously really close and it was devastating to see him go," Sarah says. "But he was such a big part of our lives and he changed us and made us better in every way."
Molly agrees and says Murphy continues to inspire the band.
"He was such a driving force for us to be better and make him proud," she says.
Having released successful singles and an album, The Buckleys will next week tick off another longstanding career goal when they perform at their local Bluesfest on Good Friday.
"Bluesfest has been a massive goal for us for 10 years," Sarah says.
"We played in the busking comp there nine years ago, so every year it's been a little bit closer and it's so exciting to be playing on the big Crossroads stage where so many of our heroes have played."
Catch The Buckleys along with Tash Sultana, Jimmy Barnes, Ocean Alley, The Teskey Brothers, Kate Miller-Heidke, The Church, The Living End and many more at Bluesfest from April 1-5.
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