Anthony Callea first burst onto the national stage on Australian Idol in 2004 and since his debut, he’s forged an enviable career spanning fourteen years.
He’ll return to Brisbane to headline this year’s Brisbane Pride Festival Fair Day and sat down for a chat with Michael James on the Gold Coast stop of his recent Aria Number One Hits In Symphony tour.
Aria Number One Hits In Symphony is Anthony’s sixth studio album and the Melbourne-based singer says he has a solid fanbase that have been with him from the beginning.
“I think you know people that have been there with me for the last fourteen years, I feel as though are appreciating me going back to those albums as well and revisiting them,” he said.
His fans are definitely important to Anthony, but on the question of whether or not he ever tires of being reminded of his beginnings on reality TV he’s adamant he loves it.
“It doesn’t get painful at all, I love it. I actually have a lot of respect for that show and I have really great fond memories,” he said.
“It gave me the biggest platform to be able to do what I’m doing.
It’s those fans and that history that follow him regularly and it still brightens his day.
“I love it when I’m in the grocery store, in the toiletries section and ‘Barbara’ taps me on the shoulder and says I loved it when you sang that song on that show,” he said.
In 2016 Anthony Callea found himself in the African jungle on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!
After being thrown from a helicopter and forced to eat horrendous things and live on next to no food amongst larger than life personalities, he still finds the bright side to the experience.
“Would I do it again? God no! I’m not that stupid! But am I glad that I did it? Absolutely.”
It was a chance for him to break down his barriers and test himself, one that he felt maybe he needed.
“I got asked to do it the first year and I said ‘I don’t care how much it’s paying, I’m saying no,’ and then I saw how the first year panned out and there was something about it I just thought ‘No, maybe I do need to do something like this,’” he said.
“I don’t have many opportunities to do personality based things, for me a lot of it’s almost all music driven. That was the thing I really loved about the idea of doing that show, it had nothing to do with music, or the stage or singing and holding notes.”
But there in the jungle, he had to face his biggest fear: heights.
“I never do rides, I’m a control freak, I hate flying. When that opportunity came up and me, the idiot, on the paperwork that I had to fill out I told them that I was afraid of heights, so what’s the first thing I had to do? To get to camp you have to jump out of a helicopter!”
But perhaps the biggest test was the test of patience and personality for the singer as he endured nearly six weeks locked away with some big personalities.
“In that environment, you really cannot be anything but yourself and I think that just goes in life really, sometimes you do have to bite your tongue.
“After three or four days you’re so angry and hungry and starving and just miserable that you can’t be anything apart from yourself because that’s even more tiring if you’re trying to be something else.
“But there were definitely moments in there where I had to bite my tongue because you’ve got so many egos in there. You just want to make sure that you show the best side of you and at times it’s challenging in those sorts of environments because it’s not the best side of you really, physically or emotionally.”
After leaving the jungle in fifth place it wasn’t long before his career started to take an interesting 360 as he made the move back to his original record label, Sony. One of the biggest achievements that came about for Anthony in recent years was the sales record that put him in an elite musical group in Australia.
The number one debut of Aria Number One Hits In Symphony last year placed him as one of only five male artists in Australia to have 3 albums debut at Number one.
“It’s great you know, I think the other ones are John Butler Trio, Jimmy Barnes, Keith Urban and John Farnham so I’m cool with that if they want to chuck me in with that mix!
“As a kid that was my number one dream I must say, I would always say to my mum and dad, I want to be Lindsay Field. I just wanted to be John Farnham’s backup singer and that is one thing that I have not achieved yet!”
What else is on the cards for Anthony Callea? After a string of highly successful covers albums he wants to take things back to his roots and start exploring his songwriting again, something that is daunting and exciting for him as he starts work on a new album.
“I’m working on it at the moment, I’m just taking it really chilled and doing it without being on a time schedule or frame,” he said.
“I flew to Sydney and just got into the studio again with some writers and producers I hadn’t worked with before, that was the key to start off this next project.
“I’m doing original stuff and I’m not going to rush it. If I release it next year I release it next year and I’m not in a rush to release this next album. I just want it to be so bloody perfect and so bloody honest.”
Anthony Callea’s Aria Number One Hits In Symphony is available now. Anthony will headline the Brisbane Pride Festival’s Fair Day on Saturday, September 22. Tickets are available through the festival’s Facebook page.