To celebrate the release of The Black Sorrows’ 20th album, the band have taken off on a massive 50 date tour from Queensland to Darwin and everywhere in between.
And luckily for Adelaide, the band who play an incredible 150 shows are year, will not be missing us out on The Faithful Satellite National Tour.
Speaking to The Upside News from his dining table at home before taking off around the country, Joe Camilleri was quite ok with getting up early to chat about the album, the tour, Adelaide, and his shithouse days.
“You know, the older you get, the less sleep you have and I’ve never been this old before,” Joe laughs. “But as annoying as it is, when you wake up early, you get a lot done. I mean, no one is going to ring you at six o’clock in the morning; except maybe your ex-wives or people threatening you with foreclosures, or people coming in to rob you. You’ll want to be awake for that.”
The man who has made 48 albums (20 of those with The Black Sorrows) and recently celebrated 50 years in music, said his writing process is an ongoing one, that is built on ideas collected from place to place.
“I’m sitting here in my dining room with a computer, a book of about 500 songs I like to play on saxophone, a pile of half-written songs, half a sandwich; and this is how I live on a daily basis,” he laughs. “We do about 150 shows a year, which is about three gigs a week. It’s an ongoing thing. It’s not just gathering up enough songs to make a record. It’s ongoing.”
Faithful Satellite, the follow up to 2014’s Certified Blue is available as a single CD or vinyl double LP, and it’s a kind of celebratory journey through the most vibrant musical styles of 20th century contemporary music, as well as some experimental styles for Joe.
“I’m connected to all of the songs, but I like, ‘It Ain’t Ever Gonna Happen’. I like the conversation and I like that it feels cinematic,” the ARIA Hall of Famer says. “I love ‘Raise Your Hands’ too. The Bull sisters are on that and I love working with them. It was written in the spirit of the sound of yesterday, from my perspective. Not necessarily the song, but the musical value of it. That, to me is fun. I also love ‘Winter Rose’, it’s a pretty song and it’s got the Davidson brothers on is and it was fun to play with them.
“One song I really like, though, is, ‘Beat Nightmare’ because something I’ve never done before is a monologue, stream of consciousness kind of style, so I like that. I went somewhere I’ve never been because I don’t want to be a certain type of thing. I couldn’t write a song like ‘Chained to the Wheel’ again because my head’s not there. I’m somewhere else. I’m navigating something else. It’s always nice to do something different where you find yourself in another place.”
And a place Joe loves to find himself is Adelaide, particularly The Gov, where The Black Sorrows will be playing on Friday November 18.
“Adelaide has always been very generous to me. Ever since 1971 when I was in a band backing a stripper. Her name was Doody. We did a few things at the Gov then. When Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons started playing there in 1975, we broke in Adelaide. Adelaide had a very good scene then; it probably still has, but it was very generous to Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons and became very generous to The Black Sorrows,” Joe says.
“I love coming to Adelaide. I know Adelaide very well. I had my first mini hit there with ‘So Young’. It was my first penned song. In those days, you’d break in certain areas because it wasn’t syndicated so you’d build it that way. Adelaide was a very musical place. I haven’t played the Gov for a while so I’m really excited. You get a sense of people wanting to come to a gig in Adelaide, so it makes what you do stronger and makes you want to give them everything you’ve got and not leave anything behind. I’ve always loved playing there and always loved playing in Adelaide. They’ve always been generous to me, even in my shithouse days.”
Of course we argue vehemently that the great Joe Camilleri has never had ‘shithouse days’, but he is adamant, so we ask him why he loves playing with The Black Sorrows, who have been together for more than three decades.
“The best thing is that we come to play. It’s all about that. If you do that, you’re there for the right reasons. I always pick really good players. I want people to have the freedom and I want to give them that freedom,” Joe says. “It’s pointless to be a great musician and be told you have to play it like the record. You want really great players who are instinctive so you can extend what you do and then it becomes like a party.”