Ooh La La supported Bon Jovi. Describe what this meant for Ooh La La.
It was a luck thing, but we worked ourselves so hard to put ourselves in that position. There’s good and bad with it, you can go into one of those shows and say “Oh great, we’ve made it”, yet it doesn’t work that way either. You can’t be just committed to the one show, you have to be committed to everything right from the beginning, just like CCE are committed to all their shows.
Tell us about your experience in supporting Paul Weller and connecting with a large audience.
We had three nights at the Enmore Theatre mid last year (2008), and we bonded really well with Paul Weller himself and the crew. We were like swigging from the same bottle back stage. The audience have an initial funny reaction to us, they read the name first, then they hear the music. So when they go to the Bon Jovi gig at the Acer Arena or the Paul Weller gig, they think, “What the hell is Ooh La La? Is this some kind of cabaret, burlesque girl troupe?”. So, performing at these shows is always a bit daunting, but when we get on stage we hear the response.
It’s the entertainment factor that we’ve got a grip on. It’s so important. You can be a fantastic musician, you can be a virtuoso and technically perfect, but you must entertain with something of yourself. And it’s hard to describe what that factor is, but we try to retain it.
What brings you to music - not just who, but what is your inspiration?
It’s emotional for me, its very deep for me. Personally, its the same reaction I would have with falling in love with my wife. This intangible magnetic thing that makes me want to do what I do which is sing, play or tap around on bits and pieces of instruments. I don’t think there’s any word, phrase or drawing that I could sketch out for you to describe what it is that makes me go there. And it’s almost a transformation going from the couch at home, watching a show and going “Wow, this is how I relate to that story”, and then having a song or emotion in my head, then just walking on stage. And you have this switch that goes in you… this body language or this spirit. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t walk away from it, it really sucks me right in. It moves me.
Explain that complementary energy when performing with other artists.
Working within the CCE repertoire of artists, and also other bands, Steve (Balbi) has been one of my biggest inspirations in life. I first met him 12 years ago doing Live Sound, and you strike a chord with someone, and it’s like a pipe going from one soul to the next soul and they to each other are encouraging each other - this boundless desire to want to pour your true emotion and soul and the drawing of a better version of each other out of yourselves.
Will people ever understand or fully appreciate all the factors and resources that go into producing a live show and the dynamics of the members on stage?
The audience may get it from a “global” look at the whole show, which is what they go to see, and then they see factors of that which is individual performers, musicians. But for us to have to manage ourselves, and then also to have to manage ourselves amongst all these different powerful musical beings is another challenge, not only for us on the stage, but for Martin and Joseph and whoever else is on the circumference of that. Then it’s like a big wave. We can start that wave naturally, without force, then everyone’s going to feel a splash of it.
What are the inspirations from bands like the Rolling Stones?
I draw from a lot of the soul elements and that seems to be my cup of tea in all music. I think the Stones for me were an influence on the entertainment level, they have this fine line on where they touch on something deeper than what they’re entertaining. And the deeper inspiration for me is the earlier rhythm and blues from where they came from as well.
I don’t think that there’s any classic rock, soul or rock and roll singers that wouldn’t have the Stones as a part of their vertebrae. And the pleasure to sing and dance to that is so natural.
What is your definition of success with music?
Some people are there to buy their house with, some people are there to create a snowball of income and wealth. It (success) is quite easy to be achieved if you are able to shut my eyes and cast my eyes back to and cast my mind back to all the great moments I’ve had on stage and to ask “was I really unhappy with that?... And why can I remember so many of these times?” because they were all great moments. And I think that that is success every time.
So you’d say that success is more the journey than the destination?
I do think so, because if you’ve reached the destination, then where do you go? Then you have to find a new success, or a new version of success? Or a different level? I think it’s to be content with where you are going, and what you are singing about, playing about or playing to.
It doesn’t happen at 20 years or 40 years of age, its about being happy with where you’re going and what you’re doing every time.
What has it been like working with Joseph Calderazzo over the years?
Absolute pleasure and I’ll tell you why and honestly. I find similarities in personality and the way we operate. Joseph is always professional and straight up and down in what has to be delivered and what is expected, but is never in a “communist” fashion where you do this and that’s it. He carries these traits that I relate to. I like to be punctual and understand what I have to achieve for this person who has invited me to their show. I think he is very fair. He has a knack to pick the right people for the right show. I sit backstage with people like Steve (Balbi), Spencer (Jones) and Kevin Bennett (who is now a new close friend), and say “Gee, you couldn’t have expected anyone else to have sung that”. And I think that Joseph just understands or has a little bit of an insight into what each person is about. On top of that, he’s a fantastic musician, really a fluent guitarist, and loves the classic rock stuff. And you see it in his shoes every time he walks on stage.