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Q&A with Jimmy Barnes

Australian rock icon Jimmy Barnes brings his Working Class Boy Tour to the Top End this March. Most know him from his time as the lead vocalist of Cold Chisel or as a solo performer – but this show differs from what you would expect. In his first spoken word tour, based on his recently released self-penned childhood memoir, Barnes shares stories from his troubled childhood. Off The Leash caught up with the singer and author during a recent break in touring. 

This tour is a little different to your previous shows, what was the inspiration behind Working Class Boy?
This tour was inspired by my book. I did a few book release events and found a lot of people seemed to be touched by the subject matter. Many people have similar stories or they have been through some of the things I talk about in the book, so I started to work out how I could take this out to more people. I had a number of songs that reminded me of different times in my life, so I put it all together and this tour is what I came up with.  

Has the reception Working Class Boy received differed from the performances you’ve done previously?
This is a different show to anything I have ever done before, but is being received very well. I’m not sure the audience knows what it is in for until we start. Then it is like a roller coaster, taking them and myself for a ride. It is very cool and I am enjoying this as much as any show I have ever done.

Have you been to Darwin before?
I’ve been coming to Darwin for nearly 40 years. I love playing up in the Territory and some of the best shows I have ever played have been in Darwin. So I am very excited about coming back. I think the NT is one is the most beautiful places in the world. There is nowhere else like it. It is hard and challenging but spectacularly beautiful. There are amazing people in and around the Territory and a lot of great musicians too.

As someone who has been a key figure in the Australian music scene for many years, how do you think the industry has changed?
The music industry changes all the time. It is like life. You either grow with it or it will wash all over you. Change is a good thing. But in music – like life – some things remain constant. Being in touch with your audience and your heart are integral. 

Your show draws attention to the work of the Luke Batty Foundation, how can people get behind this great organisation? 
The reason I draw attention to the Luke Batty Foundation is because there are so many people being affected by domestic violence. In my book I talk about the experiences I had growing up being surrounded by domestic violence and I think that as a society we need to address this as soon as possible. Too many women and children are dying because of this. Domestic violence is tearing too many families apart, killing too many good people and leaving families in tatters. It happens in all sorts of families. Black, white, rich and poor. We need to stop it. Rosie Batty has been working to make changes to how we approach this problem. I think she is incredibly brave and I support her work .


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