Tuesday, June 25, 2013

popsugar interviews Anthony Callea

Anthony Callea on His New Album and the Music That Shaped His Life

Anthony Callea burst onto the Australian music scene as the runner-up of Australian Idol in 2004, and since then he’s been working steadily in different parts of the industry, whether it’s supporting touring artists (including Diana Ross, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston), performing in musical theatre stage productions, or recording new music. His latest album, Thirty, is a compilation of covers, 12 songs that have had deep meaning in his life, and he’s about to embark on a national tour. On top of that, he recently landed the role of Johnny Casino in the upcoming production of Grease. We caught up with Anthony for the scoop on recording Thirty and why certain songs have stood out for him.
You’re 30 now — how have your thirties been treating you so far?
You know what, so far so good. I remember leading up to turning 30 I was a little bit, like anyone, it freaks you out a little bit, you’re leaving your twenties, but I’ve got so many friends in their thirties and they were like, ‘What are you worrying about? It’s actually really good to be in your thirties.’ So I was like, ‘OK, I guess I have to trust you on that, and I can’t really do anything about it.’ The first few months have been really good, so I can’t complain.
How easy or hard was it to choose 10 songs that have defined your life, or made a huge impact?
To be honest, it was probably easier than any other album I’ve put together. When you have grown up with a lot of these songs and they’ve been part of your life, and I’ve performed a lot of these songs on a regular basis with my band at events and corporates and all that stuff, I didn’t have to think twice about a lot of these songs because I love them. I thought, ‘If I have to think twice about any of these songs, then they’re not the right song to put on this album.’ There are songs like “When You Believe” and “Go the Distance” that I’ve been singing for years. I’ve sung them with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and I’ve never recorded them, so I thought this is the perfect opportunity to record these songs, and songs that I love and have made an impact on me.
More from Anthony when you keep reading.
Those two tracks, for me, are familiar because they’re from animations — how much do movies influence you in that way?
Not a lot! [Laughs] I know, a lot of people have said that. To be honest, and this sound really bad, but I’m not really a full-on movie buff. I’m not one of those people who goes to the movies all the time, or has to check out a movie, especially when it comes to animation! I’m just not the biggest fan. However, these two songs are just brilliant and stand out on their own; they don’t need the movie, I think. “When You Believe” was fitting for me to have on the album because I opened up for Mariah [Carey] and Whitney [Houston], and they obviously originally recorded that song. When I went to New York I went to [composer] Stephen Schwartz’s house, and I actually held his Grammy and Oscar for this song. They were in his alarmed cabinet in his apartment and I got him to open it, and I just went, ‘That’s pretty cool.’ So there’s a great story behind that track, and behind a lot of these songs there’s a reason why they’re on the album.
You have stayed faithful with most of the covers in terms of arrangements — was that always your intention or did you want to try different things, too?
Totally. I never wanted to recreate these songs — that was never the intention. Why would I? They’re beautifully-written songs and I’m a big believer in if they’re not broken, why try to fix them? I didn’t want to change them, I wanted to record them with live musicians and live strings. I basically said to James Kempster, who I asked to produce this album, “I want you to stay true to these songs, I just want to put my own stamp on them. Even when I record my vocal, I don’t want too many bells and whistles. I just want it to be as real as possible,” and hopefully that comes through when you hear it, because I didn’t want it to be a ridiculously-overproduced album. I just wanted to record a beautiful live album, and hopefully we’ve achieved that. It came together quite nicely, and it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had putting an album together.
When I wanted to record this album I walked into a couple of record companies, and when I walked into ABC Music I just knew that it felt right. I said, “This is what I want to do: I want to call it Thirty; I want James Kempster to produce it because I’ve known him for nine years and he knows my voice back to front; these are the songs; I want Susie Ahern to do a duet with me because I’ve known her for 15 years; I want live strings and musicians . . .” I was waiting for them to turn around and say, “What are you on? You can’t have all this,” and it was actually quite the opposite. They were so open and basically let me do what I wanted to do.
Do you keep up with all the singing shows on these days?
To be honest, if I’m home I’ll most likely put it on and watch it, but lately I haven’t really gotten into it [The Voice], and with the first series I was actually in LA, so I was only seeing snippets online. I did Australian Idol nine years ago, and I think the whole dynamic and structure of these shows have changed dramatically, especially with social media that’s come into play. It’s changed the whole game a little bit, and that goes for a lot of industries, not just the music and entertainment industries.
You just hope these people going onto these shows can take something good from it and use it to their advantage. And that they realise that it’s actually not about the contestants on these shows anymore, it’s about the TV show. It’s about the hype of the TV show, so don’t fall into the trap of believing in your own hype, because it’s actually not about you. [Laughs] The hard work starts as soon as you’re off that show. It gives you an amazing platform, and for me I wouldn’t change it for the world because Idol gave me a massive launch pad. With any nine-year period there’s always going to be ups and downs. I’ve turned 30 and nine years down the track I still get to wake up every day and call myself a singer, and say that’s my job, so I’m pretty lucky, but it goes with a lot of hard work.
How did you get cast in Grease and how influential was it for you growing up?
I think Grease is one of those movies that everyone loves — I don’t think you can come across one person who doesn’t like the musical, or the movie. To be part of a show like that is going to be lots of fun — for me it’s not your traditional musical like Les Mis, it’s more of a jukebox, feel-good musical that you can bring the family to, and that everyone’s going to enjoy. So when they came to me and asked, “Can you be part of it?” I went, “Yeah, you know what, that sounds like a lot of fun.” And I get to work with my old pal Bert Newton again, so I’m very excited about that.
Saturday 13 July — The Palms, Crown Casino Melbourne, VIC
Friday 26 July — Bankstown Sports Club, NSW
Saturday 27 July — Dee Why RSL, NSW
Friday 2 August — South Sydney Juniors, NSW
Saturday 3 August — Belmont 16 Foot Sailing Club (Newcastle), NSW
Friday 9 August — Broncos Leagues Club, QLD
Saturday 10 August — Twin Towns Resort, QLD

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

the AU interview: Anthony Callea

the AU interview: Anthony Callea (Melbourne)

Anthony Callea is soon to be out on the road, bringing his new album Thirty to a fan base that has been hanging out for some new material to sink their teeth into. The vocal powerhouse and recent ABC Music label member, chats with me about making the album, how personal it was for him to be releasing the selected originals in amongst some covers of songs that have personal significance for him and touring the material in a brand new live show!

Thanks for taking some time out to have a bit of a chat!
Oh all good, thank you!

The tour is going to be kicking off relatively soon – how exciting is it to be taking this new album out?
Yeah, it’s a month until I kick it off in Melbourne with the first show. I suppose, for me, I can definitely say that this is the best part about what I do. You can coop me up in a studio for so long and as much as I love that process of putting an album together, I really do, I love it when you can just get out there and perform with your band in front of an audience that actually wants to be there. It’s not a corporate or it’s not an event where people are already going to be there; it’s pretty cool to think that you’re putting on a show and people are spending decent money to see you sing. I’m very lucky to be able to do what I love and you know, have a great life. It’s good! [Laughs]

You’ve always been known as quite the dynamic and energetic performer and vocalist – with these shows coming up, was there any game plan set in stone for how you wanted these particular shows to be formed?
Definitely, I’ve been working on these shows for a few weeks now and just tightening it up and looking forward to getting into the rehearsal studio with my band, that’s going to be a lot of fun. Obviously, there’s definitely going to be some structure to these shows, but I want them to be live, vocals shows. I’ve got some great musicians and I’m taking Suzie [Ahern] out on the road too. I’ve known her for 15 years and she’s an amazing singer; there’s going to be a duet in there and she’s going to be doing all the backing vocals. These musicians I’m working with, I’ve known for quite a while now, so they know me inside and out. It’s just great to be able to work with musicians like that and hopefully, I want people to walk away and be like, ‘That was a really great vocal show’. There’s not going to be too many bells and whistles but at the same time, hopefully it’s going to be a lot of fun. For me it will be, so hopefully for them it will be the same!
 guess, for a performer like yourself, all the reviews that have come out from your shows are always praising your voice and they’ve frequently commented on the fact that the vocals have always been a massive part of the live show. In that sense, your voice is the ‘bells and whistles’ aspect – people go to hear that recognisable voice.
Well, if people go away saying that, then that means I’ve done my job well! That’s great! [Laughs]

Just on the new album, Thirty…it’s a great thing to be in a position where you can go ‘Okay, let’s make an album full of songs that I really admire, give them my own spin and also add some originals’. That must have been a pretty cool record to make.
This album didn’t come from a record company, there was no A&R person that said, ‘We want to do this and we want to put this album together’. Basically, I had the idea early last year and I wanted to put this album together myself; I was unsigned at the time and so I walked in to a few record companies and said, ‘This is what I want to do and this is my plan, this is how I want to put this album together’. I had this whole concept of what I wanted to do and I was really fortunate that ABC and their relationship with Universal took this project on board and we’ve been able to produce a really beautiful album. I’m so happy with it and when I put it on a listen to it, it’s something that I’m really proud of. Hopefully that comes through; when you listen to it, these songs have somehow meant something to me along the way, along the last 30 years.
It wasn’t about recreating these songs at all, because they’re beautiful, classic songs. Let’s not play with them too much, but let’s pay respect to these songs; whether it was the songwriter or the artist behind these songs, or even just the lyrics and the melody, somehow they had affected me. I wanted to go in the studio and just put my spin on these songs without changing them too much. A lot of the songs too, obviously there are your big, power ballad anthems, but there’s a song that I wrote called “I’ll Be The One”, which I really love and it’s quite sensitive and quite basic in terms of production. I think that is what makes that song work. Hopefully, when you listen to this album, it does take you on a little bit of a musical journey.

Totally. With “I’ll Be The One” and the other original track ("My All") featured on the record, what was it about these tracks that made you decided that it would be this album that fitted them specifically?
For me, I wrote both these songs probably about four years ago and I’ve done a lot of writing since then, but I’ve just been waiting for the right time to have these two songs a part of a body of work that actually complemented every song on the album. I didn’t want to just throw these two songs out there and just hope they stuck, I wanted them to be part of a body of work that worked well together. When I was putting these songs together I was like, ‘You know what? I want to put these two songs on the album because I think they would really work’! It was beautiful to have these two originals on there, plus the covers and then having some Italian on there as well because obviously, that is part of my heritage. I wanted to put this album together that was a good mix of songs that reflected me.

Definitely, I think that putting together a collection of material that is ultimately coming from quite a personal place…that must be a cool feeling to have as it gets out there.
Yeah, it’s just makes it real. You learn a lot; in the last nine years since I stepped off that Idol stage, obviously you learn a lot…

Has it really been nine years?
Yeah, it’s been nine years, don’t worry I’ve got the wrinkles to prove it! [Laughs] You go through a few obstacles along the way and I suppose that, when I was putting this album together, I didn’t want to fall in to any trap of putting an album together for any wrong reasons. I wanted to make sure it came from a good place and it was probably one of the most enjoyable recording experiences that I’ve ever had. Working with James [Kempster], I didn’t have to go and base myself in Sydney for this album; it was just nice to be able to wake up and go to bed in Melbourne and then just drive to the studio and work with James, who has known me for so long. It was a good experience.

That’s awesome to hear. Now, I see you’ve just done a run of in-store signings; I miss those days where you could actually rock up with your physical copy and meet the artist regularly!
[Laughs] Oh tell me about it! Kids probably don’t even know what a physical copy of a CD is today!

So with this run of appearances and now the tour coming up, it’s fair to say that you’re going to be kept pretty busy.
Totally, basically, the day after I finish my last show at Twin Towns, which I think is technically NSW although I think it’s more Gold Coast…the next day, I basically go straight into the theatre to start rehearsing for Grease, which is opening up in Brisbane. Until the end of March next year at least, I’m working. So that’s a good thing!

Well yeah, you’ll be in a job!
For a musician, that’s a good thing! [Laughs]

For sure – it’s great to see you, any musician really, being able to perform and produce music they enjoy on their own terms.
Oh thank you, I appreciate it.

Thanks for the chat Anthony, it’ll be great to see how the tour goes and everything that comes after it!
Oh thank you. Take care!

Anthony Callea will be performing along the east coast in July and August. Check out www.anthonycallea.com/shows.php for more information!

article here

Special Olymics Sneak Preview



TEARS and cheers have greeted an early glimpse of the Special Olympics opening ceremony headed to Newcastle later this year.
About 200 people turned out to an official announcement Wednesday which included performances by Newcastle native and ceremony creative director John Foreman with Darren Percival and pianist Stewart Abbott.
Performers Marina Prior, Anthony Callea Brooke McClymont and Darren Percival all attended the launch.
The Newcastle Herald reported Wednesday that those performers as well as Icehouse frontman Iva Davies and Hunter performers Doug Parkinson and Marcia Hines would perform at the December 1 event.
Brooke McClymont, one of several performers who attended the launch, said her group was primed to perform.
‘‘We’re really looking forward to participating in the opening ceremony and seeing athletes from around the world come together in our home country,’’ she said.
The ceremony will mark the official start of the games, which run from November 30 to December 7. 
More than 2500 athletes from 32 nations are expected to compete in seven Hunter venues.
Tickets are available through ProTicket on 1300 121 012 or at
The gala ceremony will open the first ever Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games for athletes with an intellectual disability. 
Family tickets are $44 while premium reserve seats begin from $30.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Callea's Warning To Voice Final 4

Anthony Calleas warning to Voice finalists: the fall is hard and painful

Cameron Adams National music writer
News Limited
June 14, 2013 2:53PM

Former Australian Idol contestant Anthony Callea says the Voice is about TV ratings not generating hit musicians.

THIS time tomorrow Australia will have a second winner of The Voice. But for a program built on backstories, The Voices problematic backstory is that it has yet to spawn a major star despite being one of the worlds biggest TV brands.

Of the final four Harrison Craig, Luke Kennedy, Celia Pavey and Danny Ross Craig and Kennedy are the favourites, with their potential albums expected to follow the successful path standards crooner Michael Buble has followed in the last decade.

However Australian Idol already tried the crooner schtick remember jazz singer Carl Risely from 2007? He lost his major label record deal (with The Voices home Universal) after just two releases.

Anthony Callea, runner-up in Idol in 2004, says The Voice generates TV ratings rather than musical artists who can sell records once the show ends.

Everythings so fast now, Callea said. I saw one of the contestants from last year posting on social media and I just wanted to say `Youre not a star yet, youre on a hit TV show. They shouldnt believe the hype. Because the hypes not about you, the hypes about the show and the judges. And the sob story before people sing.

Its about the TV show, not about the actual singers on the show. And once that show has finished youre on your own. You have to work and prove yourself. Sometimes I worry for them because as quick as you can be put up there the fall is so much harder and painful.

Callea said record companies now relied on reality TV to find new talent.

Just because youre signed to a record label doesnt mean its going to work at all, Callea said. It doesnt matter who you are. You can have two successful albums and as soon as you have a dud album theyll drop you because theyve spent too much money. Everyones somewhat disposable. Thats the game we play in.

Callea said despite The Voices powerhouse ratings it has not generated the multi-platinum record sales early series of Australian Idol managed.

Back in the day it was about Guy (Sebastian) or Shannon (Noll) or Paulini or Jess (Mauboy) and people bought their records. Its bells and whistles now. We couldnt hide behind anything, there werent 20 dancers or pyro or lighting. When the TV show finishes, you dont have that. When you do your in-store performances its you and a microphone. If you dont know your craft it aint gonna translate. When you watch The Voice you get lost in the whole performance. Thats great for TV but if someone sees you in Westfield they might think Oh, I thought youd be better.

Tiffany Dunk, editor of Dolly whose audience are the demographic who vote for The Voice via downloads said the show is not a guaranteed star-maker.

Our readers really love coaches Joel Madden and Delta Goodrem, but their investment into the winner isnt as strong as singing-based competitions past, Dunk said. The final four havent managed to generate the same amount of fan followings as, for example, the last two seasons of The X Factor.

In the UK Leanne Mitchell, who won last years series of The Voice (with judges including Tom Jones and Will.i.am) saw her debut album sell just 895 copies in its first week, reaching No. 134 on the chart. In the US The Voices first winner Javier Colon also peaked at No. 134 on the chart with his winners album. The next two US Voice winners, from 2011 and 2012, are yet to release an album.

The Australian Voice has provided arguably the most successful winner per capita, with Karise Edens album My Journey hitting No.1. It has sold over 140,000 copies, however the singers personal issues derailed any major touring or promotion.

Last year the final four all scored record deals, with only Edens achieving major sales. This years contestants have only managed two Top 10 singles on the ARIA chart, despite being seen by over a million viewers a week.

The finalists will release a cover of John Farnhams Youre the Voice after the Grand Final, with the winners single and album to be rush-recorded and rush-released over the next week.


Music journalist Jeff Jenkins notes that its disconcerting seeing an 18 year old boy croon, but Craigs backstory his speech impediment caused an instant connection. Theres no doubt Harrison has a future. His story immediately won over the nation. But theres not a lot of room in the crooner market. Where is Carl Riseley today?, Jenkins said.

Iconic and influential DJ John Peters notes Everyone loves Harrison but I think the eskimoes have enough ice.

And Dolly editor Tiffany Dunk says Craig may struggle to sell crooner music to people his age. His story really resonates with teenagers and the fact that hes pretty easy on the eye doesnt hurt either, but Im not certain if his style of music will find a huge audience with teens post the show.

Prospects: Will sell albums to the set who buy albums for Mothers Day and Christmas but not the rest of the year.

Ross wacky outfits have created a niche on the show, but his original song Windmill was the least popular on iTunes after last weeks The Voice. He follows a similar music vein to hirsute hippy Angus Stone.

Seal proclaimed him the future of Australian music but Im not so sure, Jeff Jenkins said, comparing him to Idol square peg Bobby Flynn, whose career trailed off after the show ended. Danny is this years wildcard, but if youre truly edgy and alternative, would you launch your career on a national TV talent quest?

Tiffany Dunk said Ross could be the surprise packet. He may not have the biggest or strongest voice but hes nailing the music that people are listening to and loving right now.

John Peters said Danny may sell a few capes and puffy shirts.

Prospects: Shaky. Will either fill the eccentric artiste niche, or disappear like X Factor oddball Altiyan Childs.

Pavey already gained attention on You Tube with her original folk tunes shes the Julia Stone to Danny Ross Angus Stone. Jeff Jenkins also compares her to Australian Idol graduate Lisa Mitchell, who like Matt Corby has managed a credible career by not winning a reality TV competition.

Her future will depend on the quality of her songwriting, Jenkins says. `Shes a talent, but not unique check out other female folk pop singers who have chosen not to go down the TV path, such as Melody Pool and Caitlin Harnett.

Peters said Paveys original song Candle in the Night was strong.

If she records an album of originals without too much interference she will do well and go on to greatness.

Dunk said while she was extremely talented Pavey hasnt resonated strongly with the teen readers yet.

Prospects: Australia isnt averse to unusual female vocalists, so if her original songwriting proves up to snuff, has a decent chance of a career.

Kennedy was a member of opera act The Ten Tenors, and is the only second-chance contestant from this years Voice to make the final four.

Hes perhaps the most versatile member of the final four, which is a surprise, given his time with The Ten Tenors, Jenkins said. But what sort of album will Luke make? Does he go down the popera path, or make a pop album?

Peters also fears Kennedy may be stuck making Mothers or Fathers Day albums. Italian opera has a fairly limited audience.

However Dunk believed Kennedy will seize his second chance. With the exposure he and Celia have had on the show as well as the introduction to those working on it behind the scenes definitely helps with their future careers.

Prospects: Will be a difficult balancing act. If he stays with his opera roots hell narrow his market, but if he tries to turn himself into a pop star it might seem inauthentic.