Shannon Noll: Up Close and Personal
Coming to Kallangur on Saturday, August 12, as part of his hit ‘Southern Sky’ national tour, Aussie singer, Shannon Noll, talks to Feature Magazine about his deep passion for the country, and why he’s excited about coming to Moreton Bay.
You’re mid-way through your 38-date, three and a half month, ‘Southern Sky’ national tour. How’s it going?
It’s been going really well and I’m really proud of how the band has been playing. After all these years, I think I am doing a better job than before, and I’m much more conscious of looking after myself, my voice and the actual performance on stage. I have really worked hard the last 6-8 months.
Along with this current tour, you host TV Show, ‘Cruise Mode’, performed at the Red Hot Summer Tour earlier this year, plus have a family. How do you find the time?
It has been tough, but we have finished up ‘Cruise Mode’ this week and we’re in production of the last three songs of the album. It has been pretty hectic, and it feels like I’m living out of a suitcase, but hard work never killed anyone.
Well, I suppose that is the rock star lifestyle isn’t it? Are there plans afoot for any other hosting, performing or presenting gigs? (You’re not going to be a contestant on Master Chef are you?)
Not as yet, but I am really enjoying the ‘Cruise Mode’ stuff. Since it started last year, the guys at the production company have been great and have really helped me to grow into the role and learn how to do it better and to be more fluent with it… I’m getting better at it. As for other things, I’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
But I understand you like to grow your own vegetables, are a great cook, and understand about the health benefits of gardening… are you sure you wouldn’t want to be on Master Chef?
No, I’m not that good of a cook. I cook alright, but after looking at a few episodes last year, it looks pretty daunting – I’m the sort of cook that likes to take his time. I don’t know how I’d go there – I think I’d struggle.
What do you love about touring and presenting?
Getting out and seeing the people. Over the last 12 months, a lot of younger people have been coming to the shows, and they’re really enthusiastic. They’re pretty high energy shows, and everyone gets right into it and adds to the fire. Actually, the inspiration of my latest single, ‘Southern Sky’, came from these younger audience members bringing Aussie flags and things like that with them. The two gelled together, and I spoke to a couple of great guys that I write with – really talented – and we whittled it down to the stronger points and then built it from there.
So the audience was a bit of fodder material?
Oh definitely, [they] had an influence, for sure.
What do you miss most when touring and presenting?
Being away from the family – missing all the kids’ birthdays and all that when you’ve got to work, especially as they’re growing up now and becoming young adults.
You grew up on a farm, played AFL, played in a pub rock band, have lots of tattoos, chivalrously hold booze-laden shoes for women, and now host a car show… are you the epitome of Aussie maleness and rawness of character?
Oh, I’m not sure, I just am what I am – I don’t take myself too seriously. And I like all the Aussie blokes who are down to Earth, like Steve Irwin, so you could probably say that – a knock-about-bloke – probably a similar trait to that I suppose.
Your latest songs, ‘Who I Am’ and ‘Southern Sky’, contain very anthemic lyrics – arguably throwbacks to past greats like ‘Great Southern Land’ by ICEHOUSE.
I’m very patriotic, and I love Australia massively, and I just thought it was a great time… given this day and age with everything that’s going on around the world. Everybody needs to just stop and sit back and realise what a beautiful country we live in and how lucky we are. One thing that angers me is people getting branded as a ‘Redneck’ or a ‘Bogan’ just because they’re patriotic. There’s much more to this country than the coastal areas, as beautiful as they are, but the inland parts to Australia are amazing. Some of the people inland, in the farming sectors, are the soul of the Earth… wonderful, wonderful people … and knowing that and growing up around that definitely instilled the deep passion I have for the country.
How does music, singing and songwriting define you?
Songwriting gives you a voice, and singing is what I was born to do. I’m still thankful for my voice continuing to this day, and I’m thankful to the fans for their wonderful support. Someone once said to me that songwriting is an art that you get better at over time. I’ve really taken that on board, and I’m having more input these days with the major parts of the songs.
Regarding the songwriting with your latest songs, ‘Who I Am’ and ‘Southern Sky’ – the anthemic choruses are quite prominent – very collective in the way that they try and hook the crowd.
Yeah, and I’ve come up with a lot of them fast as well, especially ‘live and die under the Southern sky’ – I just woke up one morning and that just popped out. I thought I must of heard that somewhere, but it turned out that it hadn’t been done before – it was a new idea. To be able to come up with them fast now, is really gratifying. It’s showing that I’m getting stronger with the writing, and it’s a great direction to be heading in and to become a better performer and a better singer and more-so a better artist in general.
When writing lyrics, what is the emotional and sensory connection between you and words, particularly when you are composing the lyrics – are your songs character driven or message driven?
Sometimes it’s both – you’ve always got to go with a good message in there. I try to take it back to a moment in time that you haven’t thought about for a while – you can be transported back – that’s very important. Just hearing that song takes you back down the track, and that’s a very important thing to achieve.
I saw you perform at the Red Hot Summer Tour on Bribie Island earlier this year. You have been known for your ability to really rock a crowd – as a true Aussie entertainer. Is entertaining something that is an inherent part of you?
Most definitely. People who want to be entertained, want to come to a real show - not someone just standing behind a microphone with a guitar. The visual aspects of the show are very important, and I am a bit of a larrikin so I like to have fun with that. As my mum says, “If you can’t laugh at anybody else, then you gotta laugh at yourself.”
I particularly loved your ‘mock arrest’ on stage by two female coppers at the end of your set, as too the crowd. Does this ‘tongue in cheek’ humour also help explain who you are?
Oh yeah, I’m a bit of a larrikin and I like to have a bit of fun with that.
You will be performing at Kallangur’s Norths Leagues & Services Club on Saturday, August 12. Have you been to our neck of the woods before?
Many years ago. I loved playing up that way, it was terrific. In 2004 I did a tour from Cairns down to Brisbane – 15 shows in 10 days. The crowds up there were really good, and I can’t wait to get back up there, especially playing in the pubs.
You know you’ll be in Brisbane at EKKA time – will you be going?
Oh wow – I might go have a look this year. Actually I was in Brisbane about 4-5 years ago when that was on – yeah it will be great – I love that sort of stuff. I don’t get back home as much as I’d like to so I’d like to see all the agricultural stuff.
What greeting would you like to give us, ready for your performance?
I’d love to see you all there! It will be a fun, rocking, pub rock show – a bit of a sing-along, and everyone will want to come down for a good night of music.
Is there a particular gig that you would like to go on/be involved in in the foreseeable future?
I’m not sure - there are a few floating around – Rock the Boat. I’d get to hang out on a cruise in between the show…
Will you be doing the Red Hot Summer Tour next year?
No, they change the line up every year, which is probably the best way to do it.
Are you affiliated with, or support, any charities, organisations, or working groups? If so, what message would you like to get out regarding these?
After I finish this album, I want to do some work to raise awareness for rural depression which is a big thing that I’m really passionate about.
Shannon’s Fast Fact Favourites:
Beer/drink: Super Dry
TV show: Gold Rush (Foxtel)
Music era : 80s
Thing to do: Sing, camping, going bush along the river
Animals: Kelpie and a cat
Sound: The siren at the start of the footy
Date: Saturday, August 12 Time: 7.30pm Cost: $40.00 Tickets: At the door, by phoning 3285 2733 or at www.proticket.com.au