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Q&A with Joe Camilleri of The Black Sorrows

Since its formation in 1984, The Black Sorrows have built a reputation as an engaging and dynamic live act.

By Chelsea Heaney.

At the helm of this group is Joe Camilleri, a renowned figure in the Australian music scene for the past 50 years. Blending blues, country, rock and jazz, The Black Sorrows are a diverse and highly skilled group of musicians and are currently on tour after releasing their latest album Faithful Satellite in September. Off The Leash recently had the pleasure of chatting with Camilleri, who found the time to tell us about his career and music in between a hectic touring schedule.

You have been a key figure in the Australian music scene for over 50 years. What has that journey been like?

Well it's all a blur really – the good, the bad and the ugly – but you lose yourself playing music with your pals. Success, the accolades are just a bonus. On stage is where I really feel alive. I didn’t set out to be a musician, I kind of fell into it. I was fortunate enough to start out at an exciting time in Australian music as it was coming into its own. The longer I go, the more I want not to change a thing about it.

The band has just released a new album. How did you find the writing and recording process for this one?

I write with my dear pal Nick Smith, something we have been doing for 30 years. We get together once a week and when we believe we have a good selection of songs we commit to record. I round up the lads and head into the studio. I love the recording process and have much fun doing what I love. This is when you feel you still have something valuable to say and hope that people will like it.

Faithful Satellite traverses classic genres such as bluegrass, soul and blues. What draws you to these genres and styles?

I’m a music fan so I tend to cast a wide net. I started collecting records at a young age when radio was king. I was open to everything that came my way. If you carry a love for more than one sound there’s nothing wrong with that. Rock, jazz, blues, soul, R’n’B – they’re all inter-related. You will use all things that you find attractive to your sound.

What are some of the highlights of this year for you?

It's been a fab year not just musically but personally too. I became a granddad for the first time! Faithful Satellite has had some great reviews and that is always humbling. It will be released in Europe this month. I’ve got a couple of shows coming up with the original members of Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons, which will be huge fun. I average 150 shows per year and as long as people like what I do I will continue to record and perform.

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