Anthony Callea’s post-Australian Idol career started with a bang when his debut single, The Prayer, became the highest selling and fastest selling Australian single of all time. His self-titled debut album then went on to become the second highest selling Australian album of 2005.
The music world is understandably eager to see how his second album, A New Chapter, will be received when released next month. Will 24-year-old Callea go down in history as a one-hit wonder, or will he continue to be a commercial juggernaut?
Unlike the first album, recorded in just eight weeks, he spent a solid year working on this one and co-wrote 14 of its 15 tracks.
The other big difference is Callea isn’t quite as fresh in the consciousness of the buying public now as he was back in 2004, when millions of viewers followed his progress on Idol every week for three months (he ended up being runner-up to Casey Donovan).
Despite the obvious pressure, Callea doesn’t seem fazed. He has put his heart and soul into this album, he says, and he can’t do more than that.
I’m looking forward to getting this new album out there, because I know I’ve done all I can, he told Sydney Star Observer.
The last six months especially I’ve lived in the studio with the producers. When they gave it to me yesterday, all mastered and all sequenced, I was so proud of it. I thought, -˜That’s it, I can’t do any more.’
Now I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction.
The name of the album, he explained, represented how he had moved on from the pandemonium of his Idol days -“ when he went straight from the TV show to work on the album, then a tour, then a DVD -“ to take some time out to absorb what had happened and spend time with family and friends, before knuckling down to work again at a much slower pace.
I think having that time to embrace what happened and to acknowledge what’s happened, I’m in a much better place in my head, he said.
I’m not so frazzled any more and not on that treadmill any more. I’ve come back now feeling a lot more refreshed. I feel a lot healthier, a lot happier, and I’m ready for it now.
He described the album as a mixed bunch of songs. While it includes a number of ballads, the genre he’s most famous for, he also explored other sides of his voice.
This album is a lot grittier, rockier and edgier. It’s allowed me to let loose and have a bit of fun. I don’t want to be known to be too serious. I want to get out there and have a bit of fun as well.
The first chance he’ll get to sing his new songs for an audience will be when he performs as the guest act on the upcoming Australian tour of Diana Ross.
Ms Ross, we have to call her, Callea revealed. Apparently, it’s the protocol. They can call me Mr Callea, he said.
She’s a true star and I’m sure she’s going to be a true diva as well.
Other star encounters over the last few years include being handpicked to sing for Pavarotti (he was very big), and chosen by the prime minister to sing for Queen Elizabeth (that was very surreal).
While he acknowledged there’s a fair bit of snobbery in the local music industry toward Idol contestants -“ Idol bashers, he called them light-heartedly -“ he has taken it in his stride.
People can say what they want about Idol, it really doesn’t bother me. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I know what I’ve done in the past. It’s not like I woke up one day three years ago and decided to be a singer.
I was singing at five and when I hit 15 I knew this was what I wanted to concentrate on. I started writing at 15 and working with a producer in Melbourne three days a week. Then I started teaching, then I started gigging three or four nights a week. It’s not like I haven’t done the work behind what I’m doing now.
Persistent gay rumours have dogged Callea since his Idol days, yet in the past he’s chosen to stay mum on the topic.
Considering the rumours have been around for so long, and how comfortable he was chatting to a gay and lesbian paper, there seemed no harm in asking.
Callea smiled and without skipping a beat said: At the end of the day there’s part of me -“ friends, family and relationships -“ that I have to keep private and personal. There has to be an element that you keep to yourself.
My friends, family and relationships are stuff I’m not going to get into. In particular my family -“ they love and support me and you need to keep part of your life separate to keep you sane. That’s why I feel strongly about that.
As for his legion of gay fans he said he appreciates all his fans, no matter what their sexuality. Would he ever perform at a Mardi Gras or Sleaze party, like Kylie, Darren Hayes and Human Nature?
I’m sure if the offer was there and it fitted in with what I was doing, absolutely.
I wouldn’t say no to anything really, he said playfully. Anything at all.
The single Live For Love is out 4 November, followed by the album A New Chapter on 25 November.