Australian Idol alum Shannon Noll is one of few reality show contestants still releasing new music and slogging it out on Australian stages week in, week out. Although his career hasn’t been without controversy, Noll is still a laid back family man and all-round good bloke. Jade Kennedy caught up with him this week as he took a break from quality time with his new baby, Colton, to chat about life, reality, and make light of some of his more questionable on stage moments.
How are you Shannon? How’s life?
“Flat out at the moment, actually. Just flat out touring, we’ve had a couple of really big weeks last week and this week so lots of travel and yeah, probably the biggest couple of weeks of the whole tour. Juggling time at home with the family, travel and getting clothes washed from last week so I can go again this week (laughs) so it’s all happening.”
Looking forward to heading to North Queensland this weekend?
“Yeah, definitely! The last couple of weekends it’s been a bit cool so it’ll be nice to get up there to some warmer temperatures. I haven’t been up to Cairns for a while, and it’s always fun up that way, there’s always great crowds and I get really good support up there, so hopefully it’ll be similar this time.”
I did notice this tour you’ve been running a competition to have a beer with you, have you met any interesting characters?
“Yeah, it’s been really good. We’ve met a few people, obviously the competition winners, and it’s always a little bit of fun to catch up with people like that and take a few photos and have a quick beer then head back to have a shower and come back to get ready for the show. It has been interesting, I’ve met a couple of characters along the way, but it’s a lot of fun in saying that as well.”
Well everyone has their pub fact – the thing you pull out at the pub that makes everyone Google on their phone these days to see if it’s true – what’s yours?
“Oh man, I can’t think of anything (laughs) I was just telling my brother something just yesterday and I can’t even think now what it was! (Laughs) That’s lack of sleep for you, now that we’ve got the little bloke; he wakes us up a bit at night so I’m a bit delirious most days! (Laughs)”
How is the new bub going?
“He’s fantastic. He’s absolutely such a beautiful little soul. He just gives you cuddles and smiles all day so yeah, he’s got such a great little personality on him and he gives us no trouble whatsoever, you know. He only ever cries when he’s hungry ’cause he doesn’t mind a feed (laughs) and just wakes us up a little bit at night, but that’s the only thing, other than that he’s absolutely perfect. We’ve been out of practice for a while, my wife and I, (laughs) but it’s just like riding a bike I s’pose (laughs) you pick it up pretty quick again. We’re really enjoying him and the older kids are absolutely smitten with him too. We’re very, very lucky and everyone’s in love with him.”
Your oldest would be old enough to vote by now, wouldn’t he?
“Yeah, we just had his 18thbirthday party at home the other night so I’ve got one starting festivals and the other starting solids (laughs). It’s a little bit of a contrast, you know? (Laughs)”
So realistically you’re old enough to be a grandad!
“Well that’s how I look at it really, because I’m sort of so much more in the moment, you know? Just absorbing every bit. I think that’s sort of the mentality that grandparents have, because obviously when you’re young and you have your kids you’re focused on providing and putting food on the table and all that sort of thing. I think when you’re grandparents you’re a bit slower, you sort of absorb every moment and take it all in because you know how fast it can go, you know? I think we’re sort of at that stage where the kids are sort of 18 and 16 and that, so we’re sort of going, wow, I remember when they were little boys, and how time flies and all that sort of stuff (laughs). So I think with this little fella we’re just absorbing it and taking it all in so we don’t miss a moment. So I’m always pretty quick to after touring, you know, because I’m in a rush to get back and see the little bloke, so it’s always great.”
Well it must be a lot easier now, with touring mostly happening on the weekends so you do get time between to go hang out with the family, as opposed to 10 or 15 years ago when you’d be on the road for weeks at a time.
“That’s right mate, for sure. That’s the best part about it. It’s mainly two or three or four days over the weekend now, so at least you’re coming back at some stage through the week, which is a lot better than, like you said, six weeks out on the road.”
So I think the last time we spoke you were promoting Southern Sun, and you’ve released the album now but I guess the question is – why did it take you seven years between records?
“It was really surprising that, because time flies so much you know, and I think in this day and age you tour so much more – you nearly tour 12 months of the year now. Whereas earlier in the piece you’d tour for six months and then you’d have six months to sort of write and record and release your new material. But not only that, I changed through two different record labels, and management changed a couple of times too I think, so all of those things just put you back. Plus you have new people coming in, A&R people from different record labels with different opinions, and obviously that sort of puts the whole project back when all those things happen. So I just sort of ended up going, oh, it’s about that time, and by the time we all actually agreed it was about that long. I’m not going to let that happen again, I’m really conscious to try and make sure we get in and get some new material written; I’ve written a handful of new songs already for the next album coming up. Hopefully as soon as this tour slows down a little bit we’ll kick into high gear and get some more writing done.”
Yeah, I did see a post on your socials a little while ago where you mentioned writing some new lyrics. How do you find the time though when you’re on the road so much?
“It is difficult, you know, and obviously with the family and that too, when you get home there’s a lot of stuff that my wife has to deal with by herself when I’m away and it’s really hard for her to cover all of that, you know, so it is difficult to try and find some time and then obviously have some family time as well once you do get home from being away. It’s just a thing you’ve got to learn to balance, you know, it’s no different to anyone else, they’ve got to balance different parts of their life so they can make it all work and juggle it all. But I guess you just do your best and try to carve as much time as you can out for getting back in the studio.”
Your music career has long outlasted the show that started it…
“It has I s’pose hey – I’ve actually never thought of that! (Laughs)”
… What were your expectations when you first auditioned for Idol?
“Oh, you know… Obviously we’d lost the farm and I was just working as a farm hand at different random properties, so I think the biggest thing was just trying to get some exposure to some degree, whether it be something in musicals or anything like that – just somewhere I could use what I was lucky enough to have singing-wise to benefit and provide for my family, I suppose. So that was the main objective; just to try and get a foot in the door somewhere, no matter where it was, singing. That was the whole agenda for sure at the start.”
Well I mean it worked…
“Yeah (laughs) that’s right! I was very lucky, you know. Then to still been doing it 16, 17 years down the track. I’m really very, very lucky; lucky I’ve got a wonderful family and fans that have stood by me through thick and thin, and continue to support me.”
Do you think that going the reality show route gave you a good foundation in music?
“In all honesty given the fact that we were the first season made it pretty tough, you know? Guy and I weren’t accepted in any way by the mainstream music industry very much, like they had us performing at the ARIAs and that but it’s not until recently that Guy’s actually been winning a few ARIAs and he probably deserved to be winning them right from the start I s’pose, but it took a bit of time for the industry to accept Idol as a new way of finding singers or artists, you know what I mean? It was a bit of a learning curve for everyone I think. We sort of got thrown into the deep end right from the start considering we were the first series. But in saying that too, that’s also probably the reason why we’re still around – there was that affection and affinity with the first series because we all sort of took a journey together, and none of us really knew where it was going to go (laughs) or what was going to happen. That excitement and that honesty I think is part of the reason why we’re still here, you know, with the good there was some bad too but at the end of the day it’s all equalled out and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was an amazing journey and an amazing process to be involved in.”
Do you see Guy (Sebastian) around much at all? Do you two keep in contact?
“We haven’t caught up for a while, because he’s always got something on or he’s overseas a fair bit too, and I’m away a heap just recently, so when I get home I wanna stay home and catch up with family and the new little bloke and that sort of thing, so it’s always a little bit difficult in that sense. But we mainly catch up at the events of whatever kind, music events and stuff we’re both attending. So we normally catch up at them and have a quick catch up then don’t see each other for a number of months. (Laughs) It’s always good to see him but, Guy and I will always remain close mates, we always have.”
We all know you’ve had some things thrown at you on stage…
“(Laughs) Yeah, that’s right hey, just a couple.”
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve had land up there?
“Oh you know (laughs) there’s been everything from I s’pose bras and underpants to 50 cent pieces! (Laughs) My first show in Capella up there, something kept flashing right beside my eye line, I didn’t know what it was, but at the end of the show we found a couple of 50 cent pieces that had been thrown from someone in the crowd (laughs) and they’d been just reflecting off the lights. So that was the first $1.50 I made! (Laughs) But you know, you get underpants, socks, hats, Australian flags, cans and bottles (laughs) anything you sort of want to conjure up has been hurled towards the stage at some point (laughs) over the years.”
Oh, when you said ‘flashing’ I wasn’t quite sure where you were heading with that story…
“Oh yeah, there’s been plenty of that, too! (Laughs) Very funny, very funny stuff.”
Well look, I’ll let you go so you can hang out with the family some more but just for fun – misheard lyrics. Now, ‘Old Town Road’ is obviously hugely popular at the moment and I have to admit the first time I heard it on the radio I thought it said, “I’m gonna take my horse to the hotel room, I’m gonna ride til I can’t no more,” and obviously wondered if that was some kind of euphemism or something.
“(Laughs) Oh no, that’s a terrible one! (Laughs)”
What’s the best misheard lyric you’ve heard recently?
“Oh well a good one… my brother and his family were just here staying for the last week or so at our place, and his three-year old daughter told us a good one. She was saying, “Three times and a three-legged goat,” for Cheap Wine. (Laughs) (Sings) “Three times and a three-legged goat.” (Laughs) That was a serious song to her, I think she heard it for the first time in the car and oh, I got a chuckle out of that one. Not “Cheap wine and a three-day growth,” a three-legged goat got in there somehow. (Laughs)”
Have you heard any good ones for your songs?
“Oh not really… I mean there have been a few of them but nothing really… Oh, I guess one of continues to sing a wrong lyric, it’s “a pile of mistakes,” and for years he’s been singing, “a file of mistakes,” (laughs) I keep going to correct him but we get a bit of a laugh out of it every time he sings file so we just let him go. (Laughs) It’s a bit of an in-joke that one, but it’s pretty funny though.”
Watch: Shannon Noll – Who I Am:
Shannon Noll North Queensland dates:
Wednesday 12 June: Rockhampton Show
Thursday 13 June: Edge Hill Tavern, Cairns
Friday 14 June: Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville
Saturday 15 June: Magnum’s, Airlie Beach
Limited tickets still available – contact the venues or visit Shannon’s web site for info.