Shannon Noll will celebrate the release of his latest album Unbroken by doing what he loves most; hitting the road with his band and performing for his diehard fans. Shannon co-wrote with a handful of new and familiar collaborators across the tracks on Unbroken, such as Evermore’s Jon Hume, Busby Marou’s Tom Busby and Sydney songwriter Lindsay Rimes, who contributed six of the songs on Noll’s previous record.
There’s a sense of coming full circle for Noll on Unbroken. It’s an album of reflection and conviction, the former farm boy from Condobolin taking a close look at his roots, his fame, his love of Australia and his family and at the trials of getting older. Most of Unbroken was recorded in the same Kings Cross Studio that Noll recorded his post-Australian Idol debut album That’s What I’m Talking About, and saw Shannon again teaming up with producer Craig Porteils, who crafted Noll’s first #1 hits What About Me? and Drive. Shannon Noll is a ripper bloke who shared his experience in the Channel 10 show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and talked about coming back to Adelaide this week to play at The Gov.
It sounds like it’s all happening for Shannon Noll you must be on top of the world.
Well mate, I’ve to a bit going on. I feel like I’m chasing my tail a little bit. But it’s all good going mate. Better be busy than not I suppose eh?
Exactly. How was the jungle experience? Was it everything that you thought it would be and more?
Mate, yeah, definitely. It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I didn’t think there’d be so much down time. You probably only get out to do a trial maybe once a week. The rest of the time you’re sort of locked in that enclosure type of whatever you want to call it, you’re just staring at the ceiling mate, so you were conscious of everything, trying to get to the end. But apart from that, it was a great experience so an absolute experience of a lifetime.
Have you adjusted to normal home life yet?
Not quite mate to be honest. Every time I can’t sleep, I try and sleep I feel like I’m back in there little bit because I had a bit of trouble trying to sleep especially through the day because you had no energy as you hadn’t had enough food. I’m settling in pretty well there mate, so I’ll get there. I’m just eating everything I can find at the moment. Trying to put the weight back on.
I know last year my kids were in love with Casey Donovan last series but you’re the hero this time round.
That’s awesome mate. Tell them I said thanks very much, that’s great.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself during that time?
Yeah mate, I probably really thought about just making use of my time better I think. When you’re in there and you’ve got so much time on your hands, you realize that in your normal everyday life, you’re probably in a bit of a rush with everything. Know what I mean? So I think the biggest thing was to try and take stock and slow down a little bit. Try and enjoy life instead of preparing for what’s coming and missing out on what’s happening.
I think if anything, just as someone’s who’s watching the show, I think you come across as an absolute ripper of a bloke! I hope it’s another turning point for you and its like an upward trajectory from here.
Aw thanks mate, I appreciate that. Good on you Rob. I really appreciate that mate thank you. Thanks mate.
Did you spend a lot of time thinking about where am I at now? Where do I want to go? What am I going to do next? And really contemplating life?
Most definitely. I mean that’s all you did do really because obviously there’s no phones, no TV, no anything like that. So you’re totally shut off from the outside world so you had a lot of time to think about where you’re at, what you want to gain and try and achieve, moving forward in your life with family and my career. There was definitely a lot of time to reflect mate and time to plan something moving forward. You try and make the best you can of the opportunity.
Did you get to watch any of the episodes back and what did you think?
Aw mate we watched a few back. Weren’t real keen on watching many, brings back too many bad memories.
Focusing on your new album did you intend on it as being as personal lyrically as what you thought it would be or is that just the way that it kind of unfolded?
I didn’t intentionally do that. That’s the way it came out in the end in the wash because we nearly had it done and then we decided to go back as we thought we didn’t quite have the songs that we needed. So we went back and wrote a few more. After we did that then what we came up with after was a lot more personal material. It wasn’t something we intended on doing but it just turned out that way. I think part of writing lyrics and writing songs is for people being able to relate to them and by being relatable yourself. I think people might have been able to recognise a similar situation that they may have gone through or are going through or something like that, which is what you hope when you release music, is that people can be emotionally involved and engaged in it.
Did you feel the pressure to have to come up with a radio song or a chart hit? It must be hard to evolve as an artist when the expectation is that you’re going to write a number one?
That’s right mate. One hundred percent! It’s so difficult, probably more difficult now at this stage in my career than it ever has been. When it comes to that, I don’t know if it’s even worth trying to write radio hits anymore, with the state of radio at the moment. It’s a really hard work out there. I’m forty-two, I’m the same age Farnham was around about when he released Whispering Jack. Imagine if he didn’t get the radio support and nobody said a thing about his songs. It is frustrating, that side of it, but I just try and write songs now that I really like myself and really enjoy listening to them, I’m really proud of them. I think that’s the first and foremost thing you want to try and achieve when you’re writing songs. Just trying to write songs for others or to please other people or to please radio people then, you’re maybe not getting the best out of yourself.
It really pleasing to hear that you’re really upbeat because it’s really easy for the media just to continually pull you down but it’s just sounds like you’re in a really good spot to make another resurgence with this tour coming up.
We’re going to try and make all the right moves and get it out there. I’m really pleased. It has been a really good twelve months now and I’m happy with how I’m singing. I really look after my voice now. I’ll play a lot more guitar at home, play some piano as well. I sing a lot more at home, so by the time I go out on the weekend my voice is a bit more match fit that I’m used to doing in the past. We’re just focused on trying to put the best show we can and evolve as an artist as well.
Do you also think with age now that when you reflect, you’ll start to appreciate your achievements more?
Yeah, most definitely. That’s the biggest thing. It’s so blessed to able to do this for a living and to have this career. I think that experience there in Africa was a turning point for me to focus on the here and the now and really make the most of it.
You had some pretty amazing co-writers with Jon Hume and Tom Busby and Lindsay Ryan. What was it like working with those guys?
Mate it was fantastic. All three of those guys are really, really great to work with. I’ve actually worked now with Jon down when he was living in Gisborne, Victoria. They all lived in the same town, I didn’t even know he lived there. Then I ran into him one day and then we went out to his stable studios and it was absolutely beautiful, so to work with him out there was just fantastic. Lindsay’s is a real champion. I’ve worked with him a lot. I’m so sad and disappointed now he’s living in Nashville because I really enjoyed writing stuff with him and we wrote some great songs together. Hopefully I can get the chance to do that down the track again. Tom Busby is an absolute gentleman and a very clever songwriter as well. All three of these guys were just an absolute joy to work with, and it just goes to show the calibre of talent of songwriter-producers we’ve got in this country.
With the album did you have a vision of how you thought it was going to unfold, or how it was going to sound, or do you leave a bit of scope there to see what happens during the writing and recording process?
Going into the sessions the songs would evolve during the day as we were writing them, and I would have an idea where it was going to be rock or poppy or country or country-rock, pop rock. There’s so many hazy lines in there, but a lot of that comes down to the final production as well. You put a slide guitar on a pop song and it’s called country-pop, then you put a rock guitar in a country song and its country-rock. There’s so many similarities and just the changing of an amp sound that can completely change how the song’s perceived and what market it’s aimed at. There was a lot of that. We wanted to lean a little bit more towards country given that’s where I come from and who I am. I wanted to keep it real with the rock and roll though. That’s why Take it Back sounds a little bit rocky but then there’s some pop in there too.
Was Fortunate Son just begging to be covered?
I’ve been playing that in the live set for a good while now, probably six to twelve months and it just goes over so well, I was such a huge Credence fan growing up, so we’re really, really happy with how it was being received at shows. Then with the sentiment of the album, the storyline of the song fits in pretty well so we decided we wanted it on the album.
Are you’re looking forward to the tour and playing in little ‘ole Adelaide at The Gov?
I can’t wait. Absolutely pumped. I talk to people all the time and fans who like the Rolling Stones who say “Why are they still touring?” I’m saying, “because they love it.” It’s nothing to do with the money, it’s nothing to do with the fame, it’s because they love playing music. About three weeks into I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! I was going, “man, I’d like to go home and play a gig, now.”
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Shannon Noll on the following dates…