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August 06, 2007

Shannon Noll – next stop the World

Noll's third album New Frontier includes collaborations with Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora. He also wrote with proven hit makers Desmond Child and Richard Marx and had a hand in nine of the album's 12 tracks.

Shannon Noll – next stop the World

MOST coffee shops claim to offer a distinctive experience. But in Condobolin, NSW, the local house of caffeine once served up a vacation to hell.

It was 1994. The Condobolin Drama Club turned the town's coffee shop into a make-believe aircraft cabin. Audience members passed through metal detectors before taking their seat on the “flight''.

But the trick, the audience would soon learn, was to avoid shady Shannon Noll.

“I played a smuggler,'' Noll laughs.

“I was the guy trying to off-load quarantined goods on an unsuspecting public as they were coming in to watch the show.''

Noll's character then tipped off security to spotlight and embarrass his victims.

“I loved playing different roles,'' he says. “It sparked something in me and it was something I always leaned towards.''

Soon, Noll, now 31, will return to the theatre.

He plays Parson Nathaniel in the live spectacular, War of the Worlds, at the Rod Laver Arena. The character becomes insane after Martians invade Earth.

“Insanity is not too far out of the ball park for me,'' Noll chuckles, “or being the first to lose my marbles.''

Noll is working with an acting coach to master the role.

“It's not something I want to dive into without taking precautions and knowing what the hell I'm doing,'' he says.

But, for now, Noll is roaming his Sydney home, script in hand, delivering doomsday prophecies of a madman.

“It's the voice of the devil!'' he bellows, laughing.

How will Noll reach the emotional points demanded by the role? Does he ever ask: “What's my motivation here?''

“I don't know about all that crapoli. I think it's pretty clear when there's a 40-foot Martian spaceship behind me on stage,'' he says.

“I only have to glance at that every now and then to maintain my focus.''

This season, as he prepares for War of the Worlds and a new album, Shannon Noll has his sights set on everything.

The former farm boy from Condobolin is Australian Idol's biggest success story, with two hit albums and a string of No.1 singles.

Noll says that “funnily enough'' he associates the music business with farming.

“With farming, you're driving a tractor for three months, then shearing sheep and mustering cattle for six months, or whatever, then on to another cycle.

“The job is always changing, but there are seasonal jobs which you eventually come across year after year. It's the same with music.''

Noll's last album, Lift, was a hit machine and a masterclass in anthemic pop rock.

It had themes of death (Noll's father Neil was killed in a farming accident in 2001), pain, struggle and overcoming the odds.

“I look back at my music and they take me back to places and times,'' Noll says.

“It's the only time I can really take stock and think about how far I've come.''

Last week, he was in a taxi when Now I Run, written specifically for his father, came on the radio.

“I sat back and thought `life is wild'. It took me back through all the times that have transpired,'' Noll says. “I had said everything I wanted to say without really knowing it.''

But Noll now wants to speak to a global audience. He has signed to a US management team which has made him a top priority for success.

Noll's third album New Frontier includes collaborations with Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora. He also wrote with proven hit makers Desmond Child and Richard Marx and had a hand in nine of the album's 12 tracks.

“I've tried to steer away from the obvious,'' Noll says.

“I am still very pedantic about not just putting any old word into bridge choruses. I hate that. All my songs have stories.''

While Lift had heavy circle-of-life themes, Noll says his new songs are not particularly connected.
Stylistically, the new album is described as “more rock'' than its predecessors.

“My general feeling is if it ain't broke, don't fix it,'' Noll says.

“I love what we did on the first and second albums. All I'm doing is a new slant on that.''

The first single, Loud, which is released to radio this week, is about rebellion.

“It's about turning the music up to the loudest. It made me think of the times when I would get in my dad's car on the farm and just pump up the volume.''

Noll realises that his success contradicts the poor record sales of every Idol winner since series one.

“There is still a mindset we are puppets,'' Noll says.

“We are dragged out of the shower, thrown on stage, wrung out to dry and thrown on the pile. Some think there is no artistic quality to what we do.

“But I have been able to pull off everything and more by being true to myself. I am very proud of that achievement.''

He is also a proud father. Noll, and his wife Rochelle Ogsten, had their third child, daughter Sienna, last year.

“She is so much softer than the boys (Cody, 6, and Blake, 5),'' Noll says.

“We were on holiday last year and the boys were running wild.

“She was lying on my chest and the boys were in complete overdrive. I yelled at the boys to calm down and she bounced a foot off me.

“She looked at me and burst into tears. It's been a real learning curve for me.''

Noll wants everything for his children, just as his father wanted for him.

“He is still driving the whole thing, as far as I'm concerned,'' Noll says.

“It's been really weird. There have been circumstances that are, more or less, unexplainable from my end. I think someone is steering the ship from up there. And I couldn't think of anybody else who would be doing that for me and doing such a top job.''

War of the Worlds is at Rod Laver Arena on September 21 and 22. Bookings: 132 849. Loud is released on September 1 and New Frontier is out on September 15.

Posted by riesambo at August 6, 2007 10:30 PM