Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons
It seems odd to be writing about a band like Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons in this languid year of our lord, Twenty-Eleven, as people have taken to calling it. It almost, almost, seems a little perverse. Behind the 8-ball? No, but still a little out of the comfort zone, but relevant, no? In this instance, yes, 35 years since the almost accidental formation of the band, and so a reformation show must be had, that crucial line-up coming together once more, just for the one show, ARIA Hall Of Famers all, the Falcon is back. Still seems a little out of place though.
Frontman Joe Camilleri, perhaps, thinks so too, as he doesn’t really talk much about Zep & the Falcon, focusing more on his ‘other’ band, The Black Sorrows, and what music is in this day and age, what’s it all about, how different is this? He’s in Perth, sitting in his car on the side of the road, but you can feel the vibrations over here on the east coast and we pass the time wondering things and throwing up ideas and we don’t really accomplish much, although we’d like to say otherwise. I would, particularly.
“Yeah, still with the Sorrows, we’re about to release our – well, I dunno – probably our twentieth album or something like that,” Camilleri muses firstly. “That’ll come out in September, Crooked Little Thoughts, so we’re looking forward to that, make us feel like we’re part of the landscape.” It’d actually be hard to imagine the Australian musical landscape without the Black Sorrows methinks. “Well that’s right, we’ve been going since ’83 and we haven’t stopped and the only thing that’s changed is you get different people coming and going.”
People coming and going is a feature that also defined the Falcons back in their day, although not to the extent of the Sorrows (who, according to that bastion of fact and knowledge, Wikipedia, has had 23 Past Members), but that is hardly the point and is perhaps no more than a lazy attempt at a segue. However, this is no ordinary situation and so we talk about the changing nature of the music industry, and there aren’t many people more qualified to comment on this than Camilleri, who co-founded the Falcons back in 1975 at the behest of Daddy Cool’s Ross Wilson, along with other Cools, Gary Young and Wayne Burt – he’s been around the block, it’s fair to say, of this there is no doubt.
After we’ve done this for a while then, we begin to run very short of time and so we must talk about the Falcons, who are as mentioned, reuniting for a one-off show to celebrate 35 years since they formed, and this is surely an exciting prospect one would think. “Well I am [excited], I haven’t seen those guys for a little while,” Camilleri states. “I just hope they have a heartbeat, you know? Because my motto is I come to play, I don’t just come to muck around, lets do the job, and I’m sure they come with that feeling too.
“So I’m really looking forward to, not just playing some of those songs – I play some of those songs in the Sorrows – but there’s a kind of love affair that you have with those people,” he muses. “You don’t live in their pockets anymore and you hated them when you were breaking up, but whatever it was when you were making the music, still lives, you know?” Jo Jo Zep disbanded in 1981, reforming for a tour and a record, Ricochet, in the early 2000s and then were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in ’07 and so have established their bona fides and even though the members (who for this one-off will include Camilleri, Wilbur Wilde, Gary Young, Jeff Burstin, John Power and Tony Faehse) are off on different tangents, the music does still live, even 35 years down the track.
Samuel J. Fell