CHRIS ISAAK

Justin Bieber’s big­gest fan.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - ZOE NAUMAN

KNOWN for his coun­try mu­sic sound, it’s hard to be­lieve Chris Isaak is a fan of Justin Bieber. But the mid­dle-aged singer says he thinks the teen heart-throb is great.

‘‘ I saw Justin Bieber on the TV and the mo­ment I saw him I got it,’’ he says.

‘‘ His mu­sic is ob­vi­ously not aimed at me, but for teenagers it’s great. He’s friendly, he smiles, he’s got a great hair­cut and he can hold a song.

‘‘ Mu­sic is like a great big tent and there is room for ev­ery­one un­der it.’’

Isaak has been on the cir­cuit a long time – and bands get to­gether very dif­fer­ently to­day than when he started out.

But the singer, now 55, says there is just as much a place for re­al­ity mu­sic shows, such as X Fac­tor, in to­day’s in­dus­try.

‘‘ I’ve al­ways been about a good singer singing a good song. Some of the stuff I see is fan­tas­tic and other stuff isn’t. It’s a good way to show­case tal­ent.’’

Vis­it­ing Aus­tralia, Isaak has been ap­pear­ing on the lat­est se­ries of X Fac­tor.

He’s also here to pro­mote his new al­bum, Be­yond the Sun, a col­lec­tion of songs from some of the most fa­mous artists who played at the le­gendary Sun Stu­dios in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee.

The singer was in­spired by the mu­sic of his child­hood – and a lot of the ma­te­rial brings back spe­cial mem­o­ries for him.

‘‘ My par­ents had a great record col­lec­tion when I was a kid,’’ he says. ‘‘ Most of this stuff I used to lis­ten to. I re­mem­ber when I was 14 or 15 my mum would take us to the sec­ond-hand store to get clothes and I would be look­ing at the stacks of records that were there. That’s where I first saw a Sun ses­sions al­bum and I thought it was the best sound I had ever heard.’’

Isaak’s al­bum fea­tures tracks from Elvis Pres­ley, Roy Or­bi­son and Jerry Lee Lewis, who all recorded at the fa­mous stu­dio.

The singer has al­ways had mu­sic around him. Ac­cord­ing to his mother, Dorothy, when she gave birth to Isaak she was singing Elvis’s Blue Suede Shoes.

De­spite be­ing im­mersed in the sounds of some of the big­gest artists at the time, Isaak de­cided to take up box­ing rather than mu­sic.

He was part of the am­a­teur po­lice league, a group which was set up to get kids off the streets so they didn’t get into trou­ble.

‘‘ It seemed like a bit of a crazy idea – teach kids how to fight to keep them out of trou­ble,’’ he says. ‘‘ I was box­ing in Ja­pan and I walked past a shop and saw an Elvis record and I swear his eyes looked more Ja­panese in Ja­pan. It was an­other Sun ses­sions record­ing and I couldn’t be­lieve there were more. I went from be­ing on the box­ing team with a flat top to want­ing to have a comb over like Elvis..’’

Isaak and his band are look­ing for­ward to com­ing to Aus­tralia. ‘‘ We have been there about 17 times – it’s our favourite place to tour; we’re prac­ti­cally cit­i­zens,’’ he says.

‘‘ The band are al­ready rav­ing about where they can get some sticky date pud­ding. The peo­ple are so nice – ev­ery­one is laid­back and easy­go­ing’’

Isaak says one of his most mem­o­rable gigs was at a small venue in Wol­lon­gong.

‘‘ The ceil­ing was 10-foot high and I looked across the room and thought, ‘ This is great’.

‘‘ You know you have re­ally made it when you play some­where like that,’’ Isaak adds. ‘‘ It takes a lot of hard work.’’

{ Mu­sic is like a great big tent and there is room for ev­ery­one un­der it. }

Be­yond the Sun, Out now ( Van­guard Records)

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