A Student Of Australia's Music History, Aaron Schembri Continues To Honour The Past

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Aaron Schembri's newest single is titled 'It's Not Goodbye'. Aaron Schembri's newest single is titled 'It's Not Goodbye'.

Melbourne musician, Aaron Schembri recently released his new single 'It's Not Goodbye'.

"'It's Not Goodbye' kind of just happened out of nowhere," Aaron says, who regularly plays guitar and sings backing vocals with Ross Wilson, Renee Geyer and Normie Rowe.

"In early April I realised the effect that the pandemic was having on the music industry and how brutal it was going to be. "I was totally affected by it like so many musicians across the world. Once I had finished writing the song, I felt this 'anthem' vibe to it."

To accompany the release, Aaron has filmed a video clip for 'It's Not Goodbye', which features Molly Meldrum, Ross Wilson (Daddy Cool), and Anthony Field (The Wiggles), as well as former Melbourne Demons footballer turned musician Russell Robertson and two-time reigning AFL Premiership player Jayden Short (Richmond Football Club).

"The idea for the film clip came about once I began recording the song," Aaron says. "I could envision exactly how I wanted the song perceived; reflecting that we had nowhere to go, no gigs, no socialising and no idea as to how long this was all going to last."


What age did you start playing guitar?
I first started learning piano at the age of 9, and then once I had hit high school I was like, 'this is not going to win the girls over!' So I picked up the guitar when I was 12 and then scored my first pub gig when I was 15.

How does a young musician like you end up playing in the bands of legends of the Australian music industry?
I do pinch myself every time! I love this history of Australian music and what has come before us. If it weren't for those guys, the music industry probably would be very different.

It definitely comes down to respect though. As long as you have your ego in check, you'll be fine. Most of all, you just need to enjoy what you do and with whoever you are doing it with.

Artists like Ross Wilson, Normie Rowe, Colleen Hewett, Russell Morris; they all get better with age and years of experience certainly proves that. The great things is that they are all really happy to pass on their knowledge to me. I am privileged and I don't take that for granted.

Around the age of 15 when I first met Ross Hannaford [Daddy Cool], we struck up a strong friendship. Almost like 'the master and the apprentice' as most people would say to me. Sadly he is no longer with us, but everything that I had learnt from him has stuck with me.

It would later lead to working with Paul Norton and Wendy Stapleton, who I love working with. They featured on backing vocals for the new single. They are like the musical mum and dad; I can always count on them for advise.

Phil Manning is another. One of my favourite guitar players and I love to pick his brain. He plays with so much feel and so effortlessly. He is such a humble guy. So yeah, I think if there's a mutual respect thing going on, it all just falls into place.


Who do regularly play with?
The last couple of years I have been working with Renee Geyer in her band. It's a hell of a lot of fun and certainly keeps me on my toes. What a great singer she is.

Also working with Ross Wilson is a great buzz. It all came 'full circle' for me. It all began, learning from Ross Hannaford at a young age and studying his guitar playing on those Daddy Cool albums. Then in 2019 Ross Wilson recorded a song of mine that I began writing with Ross Hannaford called 'Don't You Worry Now' for my first album 'City Lights'.

Now, I am lucky enough to play in his band. The live set list for one of his shows needs no explaining. It's great song after great song. I also have the Aaron Schembri Band, which works around town quite a bit too. Throwing some of my tunes into the set list along with some of my favourite covers. It's always good fun doing those gigs too.

What is it about their music that inspires you?
I love listening to their old records. I hear how things were recorded and produced back then and think to myself, 'wow, imagine if I was living in that era'. The technology, the gigs, the punters, record labels – it's a different kettle of fish now. Back then, you couldn't do 50 vocal takes to find the right one. So you really had to be good enough to cut it.

As I have matured and gotten older, I now realise that I do listen to that kind of music to help shape my songwriting with my own music.

What's been the reaction to the new single and the film clip?
It's been really cool. I don't get too caught up in the reactions of my music; when it comes I do appreciate it but I don't think too much about it. I mean, it's not something that I lose sleep over.

Everyone has their own tastes in music, which is what makes music such a special thing. Although when people do like and comment on the material that I put out, I certainly do appreciate it and it does give you a nice feeling of accomplishment.

Everyone seems to dig the film clip for it. It featured some pretty cool people in it which I am thankful for their contributions. It was filmed and edited by Andrew at AM Productions and he really captured the story that I wanted to share! For all of you musos, I highly recommend. You can find his work on Instagram @am__productions

What's next?
More music and more gigs. I really love what I do, so I look forward to taking each step as it comes. I am looking forward to February, as I will be playing in the 'Rock The House' show with Ross Wilson, Glenn Shorrock, Kate Cebrano, Brian Cadd and John Paul Young. So yeah, I am really pumped for that.

If you had to live in a city abroad, where would you choose and why?
Malta. I have family and distant relatives who live over there. I have travelled to Malta in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Considering that I missed this year due to COVID-19, I might stay there longer next time to make up for lost time. There's great weather, food is incredible and everyone is just so chilled and laid-back. There's not a worry in the world over there.


Three people you'd like to invite around for a dinner party?
Bob Dylan. You very rarely see Bob Dylan do any interviews on TV. So I would absolutely pick his brain about his songwriting and how he goes about writing. Like, 'what comes first, the music or the lyrics?'. I am sure there would be some unbelievable stories that he'd tell as well.

Chuck Berry. He's one of the reasons that I wanted to learn to play guitar and write my own songs. He was the ultimate package, he wrote great songs, sang and played them, he was a great showman and he produced his own music.

It's hard to find someone that can do that nowadays. I'd kindly asked him to show me a few tricks on the guitar as well. But apparently you need to fill a briefcase full of cash before you can do that with Chuck Berry, hahaha!

Keith Richards. Believe it or not, the 'Human Riff' seems like a real intelligent guy when it comes to music. He knows and appreciates his history. He idolises the legends that came before him. And I suppose now for many musicians, he has become that admirable legend. Imagine if they were all at the party together? Chaos!

If we were coming over to your place, what would you cook us?
I can whack together a mean parma!

No matter the expense, send me a case of?
Beer, Hendricks gin. Whatever you want.

The last time I saw the inside of a gym was?
In a magazine that I saw when I was at the local coffee shop.

What's the one chore you dislike the most?
Ok, does anyone actually like paying bills?

Do you have any phobias?
For quite sometime I had a phobia about aeroplanes and heights. I think now that I have gotten older and become used to flights, I am kind of used to it now. I still do pray that the plane won't experience an engine failure while in the air. Hahaha!

Aaron Schembri Band play Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne) on 24 January.

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