Anthony Callea, one of Australia’s most dynamic vocalists, has announced that he will be touring nationally, performing ‘Ladies & Gentlemen, The Songs of George Michael’ this coming September and October. Callea will swoon crowds with a catalogue of George Michael classics from September 19th for the first time travelling to Perth, then onto Adelaide and Sydney before a ‘By Popular Demand’ performance on October 4th in his home town, Melbourne. The final show will be held in Brisbane on October 11th. In the lead up to the shows, Anthony Callea took some time out for a very candid chat with Danny Canak.
How did you get your start in the music industry?
I started singing and performing from a young age. I started recording and writing when I was 16 with Melbourne producer, Ashley Cadell. This gave me great studio experience, something that I am grateful for, for what was ahead. When I turned 18, I started gigging more and eventually was working 2-3 nights a week. I also became a vocal coach and ended up having 32 private students a week – this was something I actually really enjoyed. I was 21 when I auditioned for Australian Idol and that was definitely the turning point for me. This is always what I have wanted to do, so ten years on and along with a lot of hard work, I love waking up every day and knowing that what I love to do is my “job”. Releasing “Ladies & Gentlemen, The Songs of George Michael” ten years on from Idol and having it debut at No. 1 on the ARIA Music DVD Charts puts a huge smile on my face and something I am extremely grateful for.
Best part of what you do?
Being able to have life experiences and meeting people that are somewhat out of the norm. Last week I was in Papua New Guinea where I was invited to sing for Operation Open Heart and see first-hand what they are able to bring and provide to the children of PNG. The doctors and nurses who give their time, love, care and expertise to this community, were some of the most inspiring people I have ever met. The night after I was singing at Parliament House in the presence of their Prime Minister. Then there’s touring with Whitney Houston and Celine Dion and meeting and singing for Queen Elizabeth and Luciano Pavarotti – these are all moments I will treasure and remember for my entire life.
And the worst part?
Dealing with the ugly side of the industry, but I suppose every industry has that. The other would be the constant travel. I have a love-hate relationship with travelling, sometimes it’s exciting and sometimes it can be really taxing physically and emotionally. I absolutely hate packing a suitcase…I’d rather drag nails down a chalkboard! Ha!
Any interesting experiences you can share?
Plenty, but a funny one that springs to mind is when we were in Perth and I was touring with Tina Arena and I set the smoke alarms off in our hotel. It caused an evacuation along with the arrival of three fire trucks. Let me get one thing straight…IT WASN’T MY FAULT and it wasn’t the toaster! I was actually having a shower and when you’re in a hotel, who closes the bathroom door? Yes, I may have been having a longer shower than normal as I multi-task (get your head out of the gutter). I wash and do my vocal warm ups at the same time, but the next thing I knew I had people banging on my door and before I could say hello, I had the hotel manager with a group of firefighters in my room… #awkward. Obviously their smoke detectors are WAY too sensitive that steam sets them off or me having a shower is so hot it sets off the fire alarms! Ha! I remember quickly throwing on some clothes as it was regulation that everyone still had to evacuate and when I arrived downstairs, there was every guest looking at me with wet hair still dripping, me in my trackie shorts and a singlet top and Tina pointing at me saying “I knew it was you!” Yep, what can I say, I set off fire alarms!
Favourite album of all time and why?
I don’t have a favourite album as such but one of my all time favourite songs would have to be Southern Sons ‘Hold Me In Your Arms’. One of the most beautifully written songs sung by one of the most stunning male vocalists – it’s just heaven!
Best live performance that you’ve ever seen?
Le Rev at The Wynn Hotel in Vegas – it was so captivating and beautiful. If I wasn’t a singer, I would want to be a performer in a show such as Le Rev, could you imagine the six-pack I would have? Ha!
Favourite bars/clubs/pubs to hang out in?
I’m not a clubbing sort of person, let’s face it…I’m too old and nearly past my use by date! Give me a nice bar, a lounge or seating area preferably on a balcony looking over a city or just an outside table, my group of close friends and a few bottles of champagne along with espresso martinis! I love to drink and chat in a beautiful environment and my favourite Melbourne spot is Club 23 at Crown. We always get looked after so well and they make the best EMs in town! There’s also a cool little pub with a back bar area called The Graham in South Melbourne and if you want the best food and service in Melbourne in one of the most beautiful environments, you can’t go past Neil Perry’s, Rosetta!
Take us through a typical day in the life of Anthony Callea.
Which day? The day where I’m running around like a headless chook or the day where I’m running around like a headless chook? At the moment, it’s been pretty hectic as I just released an album/DVD. I’m also about to embark on a national tour which I am self promoting, so as you could imagine it’s pretty full on. I’m not complaining, as I wouldn’t have it any other way, I know what it’s like not to be busy and working! If I’m not on a plane, I’m either learning material, doing interviews, reading contracts and agreements that comes with self promoting a tour, band rehearsals and trying to fit in a quick gym session and swim! However, I never start a day without a strong coffee and if I’m home, it’s the same breakfast every morning no matter what time I get up – toasted muesli sprinkled with ACAI powder and Akta-vite.. Yep…weird, I know!
What advice would you give to someone looking at getting involved in the music industry?
Don’t do it so there’s more room for me to keep doing what I’m doing! Ha, ok…kidding. I would say understand the business side of the industry and how it works. If you want to stay around for a long time doing what you love doing, you need to understand how it all works. Having said that, leave that side of stage when you are performing and outside the studio when recording – never blur creative with business! Also, surround yourself with positive and motivating people. True friends and beautiful honest relationships are extremely important!
Any news or final comments?
It has been an amazing ten years since Idol and I’m extremely grateful for the support and love of my music over the years. Here’s to the next ten years with the help of Photoshop, hair colour and botox!
© Danny Canak