Anthony Callea: Looking Forward, Looking Back
18 April 2013So, what was it about turning thirty that compelled you to dedicate an album to it?
When you reach a certain milestone in your life, I think it’s important to celebrate it and the best way I knew how to celebrate turning thirty [apart from throwing a massive party, which I did…] was to pay homage to the artists, melodies, lyrics and writers that have influenced me in my thirty years. Some of these songs have been part of my musical landscape for years but have all played a part in my life and impacted me in one way or another. There are two songs on this album, which I also have written, one with Adam Riely and the other with James Kempster who I also asked to produce this album for me. These two songs have been with me for a couple of years and have just been waiting for the right time to release them and to be part of a body of work that I am truly proud of. My All, the song I wrote with Kempster, means a great deal to me and I am so happy we got to shoot the clip for it.
Are you somebody who fears getting older? Did the demise of your 20s cause you to reflect, freak out, or land somewhere between the two?
I’m not going to lie, I would say I freaked out for a while there and thought, 'Fuck, does this mean I need to grow up now and be responsible?' but then I realised it’s okay to embrace being 30, well that’s what everyone around me was saying: “they will be the best years of your life” and so far, four months into them, all is good! And let’s face it, I was an early bloomer. I had a mortgage by the age of 22, a car lease by the age of 24 and half a dozen credit cards in my 20s… so it can’t get anymore daunting, can it?
Career-wise you were thrown in the deep-end somewhat with Idol. Being thrust into the public eye so early in your career, what decisions would you have made differently with the benefit of hindsight?
I don’t really have many regrets and if I do, it’s all part of growing up. I wouldn’t change anything, otherwise I wouldn’t know what I know now. I don’t really look back and think, “Wow, I wish I didn’t do that” but definitely being older, wiser, more experienced and having the right people around me now, I do look at things differently and hopefully make more informed decisions. However, I’m sure if you ask me this same question in ten years time, I will say, “Yep, thought I knew what I was doing, but still stuffed up!” Ha!
Personally, what type of music do you listen to at the moment? Does it ever inform what you do professionally?
I don’t let what’s going on around influence me too much musically. I think the biggest mistake you can make is to try and “fit in”. Doing what feels right is what is believable and honest, which in return hopefully speaks to people. Of course music from many genres and artists inspire me, and I tend to listen to an eclectic mix. But once I get behind that mic in a studio, or write a song or even step onto a stage, I’ve learnt to just be me and do what comes naturally.
Cheap Trick's The Flame is an interesting choice for you. What made you arrive at doing that track?
I have loved this song from such a young age and have sung it with my band on many occasions. The melody and lyric is just so strong and honest and has been one of my favourite songs for a very long time. I know people immediately think of me as “the ballad singer”, but mid and up tempo pop/rock has been with me for years. For example, Addicted To You charted well in the past.
How hard is it to write personal material with the knowledge that so many people will be hearing it?
For me, and I suppose for many song writers, sometimes it’s easier to put what you are feeling into music and lyrics rather than just blurt them out. If I thought of people listening to these songs while I was writing them, I would probably freak out so I think the key is, just consume yourself within yourself and go with it - then deal with the freak out later!
Do you recall when you first realised, with Idol, that you were becoming nationally well-known? Was that an odd time for you?
I think it really hits you when you read a full on article about yourself or when that first person stops you in the street…. As a 21 year old, I can honestly say it was overwhelming and at times a bit hard to deal with. Idol was massive back then and the response was too. It did take me a while to adapt.
Were you concerned about backlash within the industry at all, coming from such a show and receiving success early in your career?
Many people have knocked Idol but if it wasn’t for Idol and that platform, I probably wouldn’t be able to do what I do now. I also think it gave a fresh injection for a younger generation to love pop music again. Nine years down the track, I am fortunate enough to do something that I love to do as a job and not many people can say that, so I am forever grateful. Having said that though, the hard work–and I don’t say that lightly–starts when that show finishes and it’s up to you!
Your private life was also dragged into the media when your relationship was made public. Was it hard to work out how to deal with that? Do you try to keep your private life out of the media, or do you accept that it is part of being a public figure?
I understand that it’s somewhat of interest, and I am very comfortable with who I am now. Initially, yes it was difficult as I was still finding myself and it was a process that I and nobody else had to go through. Having said that, I am now very lucky to be able to share my life and what I do with a supportive and loving partner.
So far, how have you found working with ABC Music?
They seem a good match for this record. They have been brilliant and the whole process has been such a team effort. Their support for me, and this project has been overwhelming and I know that Natalie, Laura and the whole team at ABC are just as excited about this album as I am.
Thirty is released April 26 through ABC/UMA
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