Grease is the Word for Anthony Callea

Anthony Callea Grease is the Word
Image: Anthony Callea/Facebook

After the release of his new album Thirty, Anthony Callea takes the album on the road next month. Then, he returns to the musical theatre stage in the smash-hit Grease. QNews Music Editor, Tim Spencer asked Anthony if it’s true Grease is the Word.

Firstly, where have we got you? 

Where am I? I’m at home in Melbourne. Next week I kick off the first show in Melbourne, so just having a really boring week. I’m not going out anywhere — not drinking — locking myself up in my house so I don’t get sick. I’m a little bit nervous to be honest. The first show in a run of shows. I’m nervous but excited.

Does it always make you nervous?

I think once you’ve done it a few times, you understand what needs to be done but you still have to execute it. When you’re fronting your own show, it always comes with responsibilities, and you don’t want to disappoint. If you didn’t get nervous and it didn’t affect you in that way, I think something’s telling you that you shouldn’t be doing it and you don’t care enough.

So what can we expect?

Yeah loving myself sounds great (laughs). This tour celebrates the last album Thirty, so a lot of the songs that will be performed are from the album. There are a couple of other songs from past albums and releases. The album was all recorded live, so like the album, I didn’t want the vocals overproduced. So basically this whole tour is like that, just to keep it real and live. I’ve worked with these musicians and they’ve been in my band for a while now. To produce a show that’s totally live is quite exciting.

To produce the album with all parts performing at the same time, was that a pain?

This was the first time I’ve been part of the process. Singers usually just perform their vocals and then leave. I wanted to be there, I wanted to hear what it sounded like and I wanted to meet them as well. It’s hard to cut strings, so if one of them stuffs up, you basically have to start over again. There were a few times that were like ‘let’s start that one again.’ It was great to sit behind the console and watch and listen to these musicians recording the music. It got me excited to see that it’s all coming to life.

Will you do it the same again?

I’d definitely like to approach the recordings that way. It was a little easier as a lot of my recordings are usually done in Sydney, but I’m not from Sydney. I recorded this in Melbourne and it was great to wake up in my own bed every morning and drive down in my own car and just hang out there. It just made life a lot easier. And because of the style of the album too, it wasn’t a heavily produced electronic album, so it wasn’t just me with a  producer stuck in there for hours at end.

What type of material is on the album?

The album is basically a collection of songs that have influenced me over the years, whether it was a songwriter behind the song or artist. Cheap Tricks, The Flame, my dad used to play that all the time and I grew up with that for all these years, I think it was actually released in 1983. There are two originals on the album as well. I think they work really well on this album.

What was it like shooting the film clip for My All?

I see that video clip as a love film clip that celebrates all types of love on an equal level. It was beautiful when the record company said, we need to put a video clip together for one of the songs because we weren’t releasing a single as such. They came to me and asked what track do you want to be your video clip. I asked them what they thought and they all said they wanted me to do My All, not what I expected. I said I really love that you said that because it’s my first choice as well. We basically came up with the idea straight away, and Tim and I sat down in the house and wrote the storyboard and presented it to the record company.

I asked Tim if he was comfortable being a part of it because I wanted it to be a celebration of love, not just my own. I think we captured that with the beautiful older couple who in real life have been together for 50 years.

Then Andy and Matt who are our friends, I asked them if they wanted to be in the clip because I wanted to catch that realness. And bringing Tim in towards the end, basically summing up what the song means to me.

It’s a really beautiful clip. My hat goes off to you. You are touring Queensland at the moment. 

It’s just the East Coast to be honest. Basically after my last QLD concert, I move into my accommodation for Grease.

Do you ever wish you changed the lyrics such as I don’t get to hold her tonight to something like I don’t get to hold him tonight?

No, not at all. I was 21 at the time of putting that album together and I don’t apologise for going through a process of finding myself. Everyone has their own way of dealing with growing up. I had to deal with coming to terms and being comfortable with who I was and was lucky that I had supportive friends and family. I just did what I thought was right at the time. The whole emotional feeling and premise of the song is irrelevant of which gender you’re talking about.

How has it been getting back into the acting arena in Grease?

It’s really not much of an acting role as such. I’m playing the role of Jonny Casino, so we do the big-hand jives scene. So it’s going to be a lot of fun. They came to me and asked if I wanted to play the role of Jonny Casino, my ears pricked up. I don’t think I’ve come across anyone that doesn’t like Grease. Everyone’s grown up with the story and the music. It’s a feel-good musical great family show.

Is it a show you’ve been a part of before?

I’ve never actually done a production of Grease before. I never was in musicals in high school. I was a rocker. People are now thinking “How on earth was he a rocker?” (laughs).

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