Australian music legend Joe Camilleri celebrates his milestone fiftieth studio album along with beloved hits from The Black Sorrows at the Adelaide Guitar Festival. Opening with Adelaide Guitar Festival favourite Lecia Louise, this concert offers a nod to the past while embracing the future of Australian rock and blues. The Black Sorrows are one of Australia’s most prolific and enduringly popular bands renowned for their high-energy live shows, musicianship, and infectious, roots-soaked blues rock. They have sold more than two million albums to date and won an ARIA Award for Best Group. ARIA Hall of Famer and self-confessed rock ‘n’ roll lifer Joe Camilleri has been at the forefront of Australian music for decades as a front man and prolific songwriter speaks to Hi Fi Way about the show.
It must be a really good feeling returning for the Adelaide Guitar Festival?
Yeah, it is really good to be coming back.
Is this show mostly focused on the new album Saint Georges Road?
We’ll be coming to play and perform but when you say this is my new album and pump out half a dozen songs I think there is a time and place for that. There is not the luxury of playing for two and a half hours, so what I like to do is the best of what I’ve got and how I’m feeling at that particular point in time as well as how the audience is feeling at that particular point in time. I’m highly sensitive about that. It’s not about me, it’s about us and that feeling in the hall. It’s about how do we go on this journey together. The other night, I rarely make a vocal mistake but I messed up the second verse of Harley & Rose and I had to stop the band. I can’t get away with this so we have to do this again. I had a little story about it and I think they really appreciated that. I think they appreciated the honesty of it.
Maybe it is the time and place of my life where I feel confident enough to say this and I’ll play a song of your choice. I don’t have the spinning wheel of songs! I tend to fly that way, I don’t know about other bands but I don’t premeditate what we are going to do. Before we start I say we are going to start with this and way we go. Then it is free to ensure the feeling, you know what the feeling is within two songs of where you want to be and who you are playing to. The first song is a free kick and that is the excitement of being there, the next two choices are very valuable to you as a performer because then you can mould the show.
Lecia Louise is an awesome musician, it must be great having her as part of this show?
Yeah, she is beautiful, we’re good friends and it is encouraging and really makes a difference being encouraging as you can. She loves music, so we have plenty to talk about such workload and what we do to get better and make it better. You get to the point where you’re so comfortable in your skin and that you don’t know what that is because that’s all about the hard work, the grind and the grit and all those things to go with playing gig after gig being exposed to different people wanting the thing from you. In her case, she is still is invisible and has this wonderful opportunity to move around a whole bunch of things, like me I can’t so I have to find another in. She has this wonderful opportunity for a short period of time which I envy that.
Have you been happy with how fans have embraced Saint Georges Road?
I jokingly say every record is a Maserati, it is the best record I have ever made. In this case, the quality of songs and the way we went about it, sometimes the songs lead you somewhere and we had a good producer who stopped me from hitting a brick wall and gave me the opportunity to fly slightly different. A lot of the credit for this record belongs to the musicians and to him as well as he was able to carrel things as a producer as I’m interested in the musicianship. It is easy to forget that if you are really into the song. When you are a producer and songwriter you tend to be looking for things that please you in the song that you wouldn’t thinking about. Whereas in his case he is just focusing on the song saying things like stop phrasing, just stick to where it is and what the song is about. I’ve produced a lot of records and I’m still learning that.
After fifty albums does that get easier?
Each one is on its merits and it is about the collection of songs. You can have a collection of songs but still leave the best ones out. I don’t think it gets any easier, if anything it is a bit more difficult because you know what you know and sometimes you tend to stick in your own lane. When you don’t know anything you tend to want to fly everywhere and move around a little bit more. There is value in that. I think it becomes harder, only because you know what you know and you think that’s what people want. I think you are always walking that fine line between, I think this is where the performance comes in, if you perform the song in the way that it feels like the band is playing. It is easy to work out a song, like a ABC scenario AAB, AAC, AAL or whatever the formula might be. If you can find a way in that feels brand new to you that’s the beauty where you can do the AAB and AAC and be really good at it but it doesn’t make you want to play it again. There has to be something inside it, that’s a tangible thing, and I think the nice thing about St Georges road is that Peter gave me to the opportunity to be that. Take it for a spin, you already know the songs and let’s see if we can go as far as we can with and not lose the essence of it. That was a lovely lesson to have.
Where do you think you might go on album fifty-one?
Album fifty-one will be a live record! Does anyone make live records anymore? Everyone has a phone hearing the best and worst of you every night. We have this magical place called the Shangri-La and it is called Live at the Shangri-La. It’s about documenting what we are now and I’m about to start recording the fifty second album which is called City Of Soul. It is a rough title, I hope to keep that title because I like that title, there is a song called that as well. If you can tie an album around the title of a song there is always value in that. It is different to Saint Georges Road, the songs have, or I have, in a certain type of way. You can only write what comes to you and we’re just about ready to record. It is just finding the time, I’d like to get Peter back as I’m not sure how many more records I have left in me. I like making records, that’s the fun process, the selling of a record is a difficult process as it is old school technology with me. You won’t see me on TikTok! I don’t how that flies and I’m not really that interested in that it. My interest is making the best record I can. My producer said that I have a really good bunch of songs that people will enjoy if they sit down and listen to them.
Interview By Rob Lyon