AN­THONY CALLEA

GO BE­HIND THE SCENES WITH AN­THONY AND THE MEL­BOURNE SYM­PHONY ORCHES­TRA

DNA Magazine - - CONTENTS - MORE: ARIA #1 Hits In Sym­phony is re­leased through Sony Music. For more go to www.

Why he’s mad at the gov­ern­ment (a lit­tle thing called mar­riage rights) and all about his ad­ven­ture with the Mel­bourne Sym­phony Orches­tra. By Marc An­drews.

Once-upon-a-time, a hand­some Ital­ian-Aus­tralian was run­ner-up on a lit­tle show called Aus­tralian Idol. Since 2004, An­thony Callea has scored the fastest sell­ing sin­gle by an Aus­tralian artist (The Prayer), met his fu­ture hus­band dur­ing a pro­duc­tion of RENT and was ac­ci­den­tally outed by a traf­fic re­porter.

A decade on, An­thony and Tim have mar­ried (in New Zealand), he’s re-signed to his orig­i­nal record com­pany, who dropped him af­ter the out­ing, and with ARIA #1

Hits In Sym­phony, is aim­ing to re­peat the chart-top­ping per­for­mance of 2016’s Back­bone al­bum.

An­thony’s also mad as hell about his home­land’s shame­ful re­fusal to recog­nise gay mar­riage and is not pre­pared to play nice any­more. Marc An­drews re­ports.

DNA: Gay mar­riage in Aus­tralia – the postal sur­vey, the hate cam­paign, the waste of money – how are you feel­ing about it all?

An­thony Callea: I’m more em­bar­rassed, and dis­ap­pointed, than an­gry. That mar­riage equal­ity is still even a topic of dis­cus­sion in this coun­try… Our gov­ern­ment, peo­ple who have been put in these po­si­tions to rep­re­sent all Aus­tralians and the wel­fare of hu­man rights, they should be ashamed of them­selves. When mar­riage be­comes le­gal in Aus­tralia, will you and Tim get re-hitched here?

Tim and I were mar­ried in New Zealand and to us, our friends, fam­ily and peers, our mar­riage is just as le­git­i­mate and hon­est and truth­ful as any het­ero­sex­ual mar­ried cou­ple’s mar­riage. We have been to­gether for nearly 10 years and mar­ried for nearly three years and no one, in­clud­ing our gov­ern­ment, will take that away from us and make us feel un­wor­thy of cel­e­brat­ing that love. Our gov­ern­ment just needs to catch up and stop these po­lit­i­cal games; their poor lead­er­ship is dam­ag­ing. Would we re­marry? No, but it would be nice for our mar­riage to be legally recog­nised in this coun­try as it al­ready is in many coun­tries around the world.

Is your fam­ily com­fort­able now with you be­ing gay and hav­ing a part­ner?

They have al­ways been com­fort­able, and Tim is not seen as my part­ner, but is treated as my hus­band. I’m lucky. Me be­ing me, and my re­la­tion­ship with Tim, has never been seen any dif­fer­ently to my fam­ily and friends. Ed­u­ca­tion, un­der­stand­ing, love and re­spect al­lows this to hap­pen. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take this for granted. I owe a lot of my hap­pi­ness and the grow­ing tol­er­ance and un­der­stand­ing of LGBTI–plus peo­ple to the pi­o­neer­ing ad­vo­cates and cru­saders who, for decades, have been fight­ing for equal­ity. So many beau­ti­ful and self­less in­di­vid­u­als and groups who, not only then but still to­day, con­stantly stand up and fight for equal­ity and love. I know it’s not easy for some, and peo­ple strug­gle ev­ery­day with just want­ing to be ac­cepted and loved, but we are all cer­tainly head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. No one is born a hater or with prej­u­dice. The younger gen­er­a­tion will have the greater power and strength in years to come. How’s fam­ily life for you at the mo­ment?

Could not be bet­ter. My brother has taken the lime­light, even though I know he’s al­ways been the fa­vorite but don’t tell him that, as he and his wife are ex­pect­ing

their first child in Novem­ber. I ab­so­lutely adore my brother and I was the first per­son he told. It’s the first for our side of the fam­ily and I’m go­ing to be a kick­ass un­cle. I have al­ready bought gifts and don’t even know if it’s a boy or girl! My first role as gay un­cle will be to teach it how to make up a mean espresso mar­tini [laughs]. Yep, pri­or­i­ties!

Has the sub­ject of kids come up with Tim yet? Yes, we get asked all the time. At this point in our lives, we don’t want kids. We’re happy to be fab­u­lous un­cles and we are to four kids on Tim’s side, even though we con­stantly miss their birth­days and try to make up for it with vouch­ers or cash! Yes, I had to teach Tim that it’s not in­sult­ing to give cash as a gift. Ital­ians do it all the time. In fact, we pre­fer it!

What ad­vice would you give to an LGBTI per­former start­ing out now in show­biz who is un­sure whether to come out?

I don’t think the ques­tion is “whether to come out”. We should be en­cour­ag­ing and al­low­ing peo­ple to be com­fort­able, happy and love them­selves first and fore­most. When you are 100 per­cent com­fort­able in your own skin, it’s a beau­ti­ful thing and nat­u­rally you are you. I don’t like the pres­sure of com­ing out that is put on so many peo­ple. My straight friends didn’t have to come out be­ing straight. Love and ac­cept your­self and the im­por­tant peo­ple will fol­low suit!

When you look back on your ca­reer what do you wish you had done dif­fer­ently?

Not lis­ten to cer­tain peo­ple but, hey, I was young and never had botox… yes, botox fixes ev­ery­thing! Se­ri­ously, I wouldn’t change any­thing, as such, be­cause it al­lowed me to get to where I am. Young artists start­ing out need to be men­tored and nur­tured, not only from a ca­reer per­spec­tive but in life.

You’re up to al­bum num­ber seven. Who says you can’t forge a proper ca­reer out of a re­al­ity TV? There’s two types of re­al­ity TV. There’s the likes of Danc­ing With The Stars or I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and there’s Aus­tralian Idol; an iconic show that un­cov­ered the tal­ents of many bril­liant artists who are still kick­ing goals to­day. It had heart, soul and in­tegrity and many of the peo­ple be­hind the scenes had the right in­ten­tion, a rar­ity in TV. It’s a shame Aus­tralian Idol is not on our screens to­day. I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced both types of re­al­ity TV but let’s just say I won’t be jump­ing out of a he­li­copter or shar­ing a camp­site with Fev [foot­baller Brendan Fevola] or Shane Warne [crick­eter] again any­time soon. I bloody loved that ex­pe­ri­ence but, man, rough­ing it in the African jun­gle is not in my DNA!

Thir­teen years later and you’re still go­ing strong. What has that process been like?

Thank you… It’s been a unique 13 years since I walked out onto that Idol stage. I def­i­nitely haven’t loved ev­ery minute but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wake up ev­ery­day and re­mind my­self that I’m ex­tremely lucky, my job is not re­ally a job, it’s what I love and was born to do.

What in­spired the new Sym­phony al­bum?

As a singer who loves live per­for­mance more than any­thing else, and thrives on it, record­ing an al­bum with the Mel­bourne Sym­phony Orches­tra in one of the finest con­cert halls in the coun­try is some­thing I have been want­ing to do for years. Not to men­tion the con­cert to launch the al­bum. Not many peo­ple can say they have recorded an al­bum with a world­class sym­phony orches­tra, but it was on my bucket list and I wasn’t go­ing to give up un­til it hap­pened. I feel ex­tremely honoured and it’s a priv­i­lege to have my home­town sym­phony orches­tra col­lab­o­rate with me. I can’t wait to bring it to life in con­cert.

What was the process of pick­ing the songs? Ba­si­cally, Aus­tralia helped me put these songs to­gether as these songs have all hit #1 on the Aus­tralian music charts. They’re songs that have played a part in our lives over the years and I wanted to de­liver them in a way that was unique, epic and soar­ing. This al­bum is truly spe­cial and I could not be more in love with it.

A Ge­orge Michael track made the cut. You’ve pre­vi­ously done a whole al­bum of his songs. The trib­ute con­tin­ues?

Yes, Ge­orge Michael and his music have greatly in­flu­enced me from the be­gin­ning. His vo­cals, music, lyrics and interpretations were bril­liant – his was a tal­ent we will never see again, but one that will al­ways be cel­e­brated and re­spected. I had to in­clude Je­sus To A Child on this al­bum. It would have been wrong not to.

Do any of the songs have sen­ti­men­tal sig­nif­i­cance for you?

I recorded Rain 13 years ago. It was my sec­ond #1 and I have al­ways loved it, but 13 years ago I was a dif­fer­ent per­son. I was young, didn’t have as much life ex­pe­ri­ence un­der my belt and prob­a­bly didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate the essence of music as much as I do now. I needed to bring this song to the fore­ground again, but from a 34-year-old, mar­ried gay man’s per­spec­tive. Were any of the songs played at your wed­ding ?

I don’t think I would be play­ing my own music at my wed­ding – that would be a lit­tle self-in­dul­gent, don’t you think [laughs]? How­ever, feel free to go full throt­tle and overkill my music at my funeral. I want it to be all about me, me, me – music, a sym­phony orches­tra, an af­ter-party with espresso mar­ti­nis on tap.

Are you plan­ning on kick­ing the bucket?

No, I’m not!

Does hubby Tim know about these plans? [Laughs] Yep, Tim knows the brief and my ex­pec­ta­tions…!

Who’s been the per­son who’s guided you the most through the last decade of suc­cess?

There have been a few peo­ple in my life who chal­lenge the way I think in a great, healthy way and I know they have my back and best in­ter­ests. I rely on my par­ents, Tim, and a cou­ple friends to bounce ideas off and ask for their ad­vice.

We met you through TV, we’ve seen you suc­ceed, come out, get mar­ried… but what’s some­thing that might still sur­prise peo­ple about you?

I hate fly­ing. I’ve be­come bet­ter over the years but still need a scotch to knock the edge off. I’m also an ab­so­lute clean-freak, which drives Tim crazy. I also don’t eat lamb and I have never eaten peanut but­ter in my life. Ran­dom, I know!

Tim and I were mar­ried in New Zealand but it would be nice for our mar­riage to be legally recog­nised in this coun­try, as it al­ready is in many coun­tries.”

ANT’S COL­LAB­O­RA­TION WITH THE MEL­BOURNE SYM­PHONY. OR­CHES­TRAL CALLEA

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