Rapid Fire Questions

Joe Camilleri

Joe Camilleri has been at the forefront of Australian music for decades as the leader of

Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons and The Black Sorrows and as writer of radio anthems Hit & Run, Shape I’m In, Chained To The Wheel, Harley & Rose and Never Let Me Go.

 

Joe Camilleri is an ARIA Hall of Famer and at 73 years old, a rock’n’roll lifer.

 

Not ready to hang up his boots just yet, he’s working on his 51st album. It’s what he does.

The Black Sorrows will tour nationally later in the year in support of Saint Georges Road and are looking forward to debuting tracks at Bluesfest in October.

 

Any examination of The Black Sorrows comes down to one person, Joe Camilleri frontman and the brains behind the band. Recently awarded “living legend” status by Rolling Stone, Joe’s career spans an astonishing 50+ years. As a singer, songwriter, saxophonist and producer Joe Camilleri is considered one of the most genuinely talented figures in Australian music still at the top of his game.

 

Songs such as So Young, Hit And Run, Shape I’m In, Hold On To Me, Harley and Rose, Chained To The Wheel , Never Let Me Go and the Chosen Ones have become radio staples. As leader of two of Australia’s most successful bands, Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons and The Black Sorrows, Joe’s music has become part of Australian music culture. Joe was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 2007. Over the years other greats have admired Camilleri’s songwriting. Elvis Costello and John Denver are just two who have recorded cover versions of Joe’s music.

 

Camilleri launched The Black Sorrows, a loose band of like-minded musicians, in 1984 following the demise of his seminal band Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons the year before. From humble beginnings playing inner-city cafes around Melbourne and selling albums from the boot of a car, Camilleri transformed The Black Sorrows into one of the most sophisticated ensembles in the country. The independently released album Dear Children, represented a turning point once CBS/Sony stepped in with a world-wide deal. When radio picked up the classic track, Mystified, The Black Sorrows really took flight releasing multi-platinum sellers Hold On To Me, Harley & Rose and The Chosen Ones. The Black Sorrows have won the ARIA for Best Band, played sell-out shows across Europe and sold more than two million albums worldwide.

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1. What's Your Favourite Breakfast Meal ? 

It would be the breakfast of champions! Porridge with a banana on top.

I do like the smell of bacon in the morning which is not a good thing cos’ I'm a vegetarian 

2. Dog or Cat ? 

Woof Woof they're your best pal even if your on the bottom of the 9th.

3. What’s Your Favourite Touring Destination ?  

Anywhere in the world would be fine with me.

I’ve been touring Europe more before the world stopped.  

 

4. What Are Your Hobbies Outside Of Music ?

Anything artistic really. With all these lockdowns in Melbourne I’ve spent more time in the garden.

It’s a big garden and lots of chores to do. Change of seasons just don’t bother me. It brings me joy growing things.

 

 

​5. What's Your Ideal Holiday Destination ? 

My favourite place can change from week to week. From Bali to Paris...

so many destinations...the world is a big place...taste as much as you can.

Anywhere, in Australia right now would be just fine...but lockdowns still in place sadly.

 

6. Beer, Wine, Liquor, Non-Alcoholic ? 

Any of the above as offered ... I don’t think about beverages a lot.
 

7. Do You Prefer a Festival Stage to Perform or a Small Intimate Venue ? 

I would be surprised to think that most musicians would only want to play festival stages.

It does say a lot about where you are. For me there’s something about showing what you're all about in an intimate setting when you can see the fear in their eyes 

and vice versa.

​8. What Made You Want To Become an Artist ?

I was a young soul and radio was king. It was some kind of salvation for me an escape from the world that I couldn’t engage with. You write your first song then it’s all downhill from there, your’e hooked ...it truly becomes everything. 

9. House or Apartment ?​

A house... I have stuff...I collect stuff, guitars, sound equipment, unusual antiques, old signs I love my stuff. Although I do want the guys from American pickers to come by and haul a few things away, then I’ll know it was good stuff.

10. Do You Like a Live Performance or Doing Studio Work ? 

Both, Your left hand needs to know what your right hand is doing ... that’s the music business  you need something to say to be cinematic, a storyteller,  where you can ... They like each other 

and the beat goes on. 

11. Do You Like to Write on Your Own or Collaborate with Others ? ​

Collaborate... I’m what you call a two headed insect...there’s a social component to this for me too. It’s all about the crack,  the conversation, the catch up, then the exchange of the ideas 

My songwriting partner NickSmith and I have one mantra and that is...nothing's sacred everything’s on the table. We’ve been working like this for nearly 40 years.

 

12. Are There Any Musicians who Inspire You ? 

All that came before...it’s truly impossible to pick a handful...let me say it like this. Armstrong to Coltrane...Parker to Hank Williams... Miles to Hendrix...Muddy to the Stones and the list goes on and on. 

13. What's Your Favourite Meal ? 

Anything that’s put in front of me that I didn’t cook. A simple omelette with parsley or a nude spaghetti will do just fine .... 

​14. Country or City Living ?​

Well the city lights were aways begging and I did my time...I owe it nothing now...I used to be a slave to the city. I’m still a city chap in many ways but I live too far away now to really get a sense of all the seasons ... the changing of the guard... life has many things to offer apart from the dirt and grime. I live in the country now about 80km out of Melbourne.

15. CD or Vinyl ?

I have a love affair with Vinyl to this day. Note how I used a capital ‘V’ for Vinyl? It’s where I get info about the artists I critique so to speak. It’s more than the wax, it’s the artwork it’s getting up and flipping it over to side two. I still look for that Diamond that’s buried on side two.  Nothin’ better than walking out of a record store with a new record tucked under your arm like a new handbag.

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