Shannon Noll rose to prominence as runner-up in the first series of Australian Idol in 2003 and has since released five top-10 albums, making him one of Australia’s most successful charting artists. After two years living in the Victorian bush with his family, the multiplatinum-selling singer is making a comeback. He is set to release an album this year and is about to embark on a six-date tour across Australia. I caught up with the 38-year-old to chat about the tour, the highs and lows of being an entertainer and how he now struggles to watch TV talent shows.
What are you up to at the moment?
The last sort of six months I was busy writing the new album, and we have three singles ready to go, so I’m really looking forward to this year. I’m currently touring with Suzi Quatro and then I’m also promoting my show that I will do after that. The release of my new single will be around March.
Tell me about your Invincible tour.
We are putting three new singles in the set so they are going to road test, which is always a bit scary. But it’s going to be a lot of fun and we are going to play the big singles from the past.
Do you have a favourite song you like to perform?
Yes, I enjoy performing What About Me. I’m really lucky in the sense that a lot of people who’ve been playing the same song are so sick of it, but I really enjoy still playing it because it’s such a universal song. It’s a song written for the people, so [the audience] sing along and they know all the words and it’s great.
Can you believe it’s been 10 years since Australian Idol?
I know, it’s amazing, I mean I was playing music a lot longer before that, but it all kicked off as a career from that.
There are so many talent shows in Australia now since Idol. Is it a bit surreal to watch the young contestants come through shows like The Voice and The X Factor?
Yeah, I sort of struggle to watch a lot of them. I think it’s a lot more about the judges [than the contestants] these days. I think our year it was really organic and natural because we didn’t have a clue what was coming from day to day, but now it’s all very structured.
What’s the biggest advantage and the biggest disadvantage of taking part in a show like that?
The biggest advantage would be we go from obscurity to being in front of 2 million people a week, so that exposure was just ridiculous. I think the main disadvantage – which is the disappointing part of it – is within the industry itself we struggle. For example, Guy [Sebastian] has been nominated for 22 ARIAs and finally won one that wasn’t a public vote. That is just ridiculous to me; the bloke is one the most talented singers in the world … nominated 22 times and the acceptance level of the industry is a bit disappointing. They wanted us performing on the shows like the ARIAs because they knew we would get ratings out of it, but there is no way they wanted to give us the credit for what we’d done.
Do you think you would be where you are today without Australian Idol?
Most likely not, but you never can say never.
What would you be doing today if you didn’t go down the path of singing?
I think about that sometimes, and I’d probably work in the mines with my mates back home – unless I was busking somewhere!
What is it about performing that you love?
I love really hitting a note well. I love it when my voice is really strong and I’m singing really well. I suppose it’s like when you’re really fit and you have a really good game of footy. You know in your heart that you’ve done really well, and you’ve nailed it. There is a self-pride thing there.
Do you ever get stage fright?
Oh definitely I get anxious. I just want to get out there and started because you can hope that the crowd is going to enjoy it, but you never know.
What do you do for fun?
Spending time with family is great and relaxing and I really like cooking.
What’s your signature dish?
I can cook a lobster mornay. I went the whole hog on that one! [Laughs]
You must host a good dinner party if you can cook and bust out a few tunes.
Yeah, when my brothers are all together that’s a given, especially after a couple drinks! We grew up doing that, pulling out the guitar after dinner.
What’s the best part about your job?
Well that’s got to be being able to sing. I mean, it’s probably what I’m best at, so it’s really fulfilling that I can make a career out of it.
What’s the worst part about your job?
I think it’s the travel; being away and you miss birthdays, wedding anniversaries, kids’ footy matches and stuff like that because it’s a weekend job. And it’s a relatively lonely situation too. I’m not in a band so I do all the travel by myself. I’m often by myself so I stay at hotels and you go and get dinner by yourself. So you spend a lot of time on your own.
Who do you admire?
Elvis is the King. I’ve always thought he had everything; he is an amazing singer, amazing songwriter and brilliant dancer and a great actor.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to rock’n’roll but I also love Lorde and Matt Corby’s songs.
WE WENT TO The Tilbury Hotel, Woolloomooloo.
WE DRANK Sparkling mineral water and a Hahn SuperDry.
SHANNON WORE Annex shirt, Academy pants, and a Vans hat.
I WORE A Camilla and Marc dress.
Shannon Noll performs at the Basement on February 21 and 22.