Fam­ily al­bum

David and Lisa Camp­bell grant Stel­lar a rare in­sight into their fam­ily life and sit down for a can­did chat about raising three kids, the lin­ger­ing demons from David’s child­hood – and why there’s no shame in be­ing a “Christ­mas tragic”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

When David Camp­bell de­cided to make a Christ­mas al­bum, it wasn’t com­par­isons with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole or even Michael Bublé that he feared.

Rather, it was how would he mea­sure up to the Tin Lids – the ’90s group formed by a few of his fa­ther Jimmy Barnes’s other chil­dren – and Hey Ru­dolph!, their en­dur­ing Christ­mas com­pi­la­tion. As Camp­bell points out, even his own three kids sing along to the Barnes brood’s ver­sion of ‘Jin­gle Bells’.

“It’s a big deal do­ing a Christ­mas al­bum in my fam­ily be­cause I have to com­pete with Hey Ru­dolph! – which is the great­est Christ­mas al­bum of all time,” Camp­bell says with a laugh. “Sorry, Michael Bublé, but it’s true. If I could come in at least third…”

Camp­bell needn’t worry. His new set of yule­tide clas­sics also fea­tures a catchy new ti­tle track (‘Baby It’s Christ­mas’) writ­ten for him by Rick Price, and the re­sult is joy­ous and as­sured – two re­quire­ments of any al­bum aim­ing to be­come a playlist favourite dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

An artist’s work of­ten re­flects where they are in life and while this new al­bum outs Camp­bell as a self­con­fessed “Christ­mas tragic”, it also marks a new­found con­tent­ment and re­solve. “I’ve wanted to do a Christ­mas al­bum for a while and ev­ery­thing came to­gether,” he says. “I spent some Christ­mases in New York watch­ing ice skaters and buy­ing warm chest­nuts, so this has all the el­e­ments of a tra­di­tional Christ­mas but with hot over­tones – like a Beach Boys song.”

Af­ter years of un­rest, the 45-year-old is at the top of his game, host­ing the Nine Net­work’s To­day Ex­tra along­side So­nia Kruger, per­form­ing in award-win­ning roles in the­atre and cabaret, host­ing Car­ols By Candlelight, pen­ning a pop­u­lar Stel­lar col­umn and, of course, be­ing a hus­band and fa­ther. More than that, he has a sense of ac­cep­tance with his com­pli­cated up­bring­ing, only re­cently made pos­si­ble by his fa­ther’s own reck­on­ing with the past. In con­fronting his demons, the Cold Chisel rocker seems in part to have re­leased his son from the en­dur­ing ache of con­fused iden­tity and grow­ing up with an ab­sent fa­ther. In­deed, as Camp­bell plays with his chil­dren, Leo, eight, and twins Billy and Betty, three, at Stel­lar’s photo shoot – their first as a fam­ily – it’s hard to fathom that he had no role model for how to be a fa­ther. As the trio take turns jump­ing over a skip­ping rope, fi­nally fall­ing in a pile on top of their dad, Camp­bell’s easy warmth with and clear love for them prove he has, as Barnes has writ­ten, “bro­ken the cy­cle that his fam­ily had been trapped in for gen­er­a­tions”. Piv­otal to that trans­for­ma­tion is the woman watch­ing her fam­ily frolic: his wife Lisa, 38, who Camp­bell de­scribes as “in­cred­i­ble”. There’s no ques­tion the Camp­bells are an an­i­mated clan. A pas­sion for per­form­ing cour­ses through the gene pool, and com­bined with David’s self-con­fessed “bo­gan” her­itage and Lisa’s fault­less Bri­tish man­ners, it has pro­duced char­ac­ter­ful kids as cour­te­ous as they are cu­ri­ous. Betty is mes­merised by Stel­lar’s make-up artist and con­fi­dently asks if she, too, might have a lit­tle lip­stick while even weeks later, Billy is still in­quir­ing how he might pro­cure the leder­ho­sen he wore for our shoot. (His dad had al­ready coughed up for the knit­ted crowns and gold vel­vet wings.) Leo, mean­while, throws open the front door of the fam­ily’s home be­fore en­thu­si­as­ti­cally set­tling down to watch Steve Irwin videos while his sib­lings sleep and his mother and fa­ther chat to Stel­lar.

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