AFTER 50 years in music, Gilbert O’Sullivan is finally touring Australia properly.
The Irish singer-songwriter’s first national tour will take in the capital cities as well as regional centres including the Gold and Sunshine coasts over 11 shows.
The 71-year-old has turned down multiple offers to play Down Under because he wasn’t able to give fans the full experience of playing with his nine-piece band.
“For the past 15 or so years, people have asked me to come to Australia many times, but I always felt if I couldn’t take the band, I wouldn’t go,” he says over the phone from his home in the Channel Islands.
“I came over 10 years ago, but it was very brief and very acoustic. I just had my keyboard player and the two girl singers. It was a low-key affair, but it gave us a slight taste. This really is officially the first proper tour we’re able to do.”
Signing his first record deal in 1967, O’Sullivan is best known for his early 1970s hits Alone Again (Naturally), Clair and Get Down. Fifty years on, he’s still writing and recording new, original music and touring the world.
“I enjoy what I do. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t do it,” he says.
“I just finished the next album, which I recorded with Ethan Johns, the son of famous producer Glyn Johns (The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones).
“Ethan came to my studio here in Jersey. His approach to production is very organic, not into too much technology, and it was nice to be working that way.”
With 22 studio albums to his name, O’Sullivan will finally release his first self-titled record.
“I was at a record meeting yesterday and I had a whole list of titles. All my family put their penny’s worth in, and the record company put in their penny’s worth and it come down to Gilbert O’Sullivan,” he says.
“That’s what they want.”
O’Sullivan will treat Australian fans to one song off the forthcoming album, due for release in August.
“They’ll get to hear all the songs they expect to hear, and a sample of new material from the last album (Latin ala G!),” he said.
“There will be fast, slow, medium, sad, happy. I like to think there’s a good variety of material.”
To remain relevant in pop music more than five decades on, O’Sullivan keeps up to date with the latest chart-toppers.
“I buy everything, from John Mayer to Paloma Faith, Pink, Liam Gallagher – you name it.
“If you want to be a contemporary songwriter you’ve got to be listening to what’s going around today,” he says. “If I buy a Jay Z record, I may not get much out of it in terms of songwriting but I may in terms of production values.
“You can still learn, no matter how long you’ve been doing it.”
Gilbert O’Sullivan plays The Events Centre, Caloundra, on March 11.