It’s a set of tenets the Scottish singer-songwriter has fervently stuck to, but he also attributes a lot of his success to his father’s support in his early years.
Despite struggling as a single parent, Callum’s father bought him an acoustic guitar and encouraged him to pursue music on a full-time basis.
Fittingly, the first taste of his debut record is a heartfelt tribute to his dad, Some Heroes Don’t Where Capes.
Last year saw him support Razorlight, The Kooks and Blossoms, alongside a performance at Robbie Williams BST Hyde Park show.
2020 is looking like a turning point for Callum as he embarks on a UK and European tour and releases People Like Us in May.
Ahead of a busy new year, we caught up with him to get the skinny on his start in music, his debut record and primary inspirations…
How did you start out in music?
I started in my mum’s womb dancing my way out to the tune of Highway to Hell.
What were you listening to growing up?
Rod Stewart, Elton John and Stereophonics.
What inspired you to re-release Some Heroes Don’t Wear Capes?
I released it as a b-side acoustic demo and everyone was really drawn to it. It a very raw song for me so was a bit unsure if I wanted the world to hear it properly as a single.
I grew up not really having a great relationship in the early days with my brother and when we eventually spent some quality time together he asked what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I wanted to headline Glastonbury one day and play in front of thousands of people. He put his drink down and said, ‘things like that don’t happen to people like us Callum I’m sorry.’
How did it all come together?
I wrote around 60 songs and knocked them down to 20 and went into the studio with Ken Nelson (Coldplay’s producer) to record them.
How do you think your sound is evolving?
I think it’s evolving naturally. Everyone’s sound changes slightly over time. Musicians would be bored to tears writing the same song over and over.
How would you describe the music you make to the uninitiated?
Always a tough question because I have no idea really. Anthemic, real heart-on-the-sleeve tunes.
What’s your take on the music scene in Scotland? Any acts you’re tipping?
Glasgow is smashing it at the moment and has been for a long time. Edinburgh on the other hand… the council have let the creative people of Edinburgh down badly by allowing venues to be turned into Weatherspoons. I’m tipping Gerry Cinnamon to go global.
My biggest inspiration is my old man – he raised me on his own from a young age.
You’ve got a big tour coming up; what do enjoy most – recording or playing live?
I get carried away a bit when I’m on tour. As much as I love it, I’m kinda thankful to get back into the studio and calm down a bit… haha
What one piece of advice would you give to musicians starting out?
As long as you have a bucket load of self-belief, drive and hard work, you’ll do just fine.
People Like Us will be released on 15 May 2020 via 3 Beat Productions.
Forthcoming live dates:
11 March Yes, Manchester
12 March The Courtyard, London
7 April The Hunter S. Thompson, Dundee
8 April Café Drummond, Aberdeen
9 April The Caves, Edinburgh
10 April King Tut’s, Glasgow