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Shannon Noll Biography

Last updated: 08/28/2011 12:00:00 PM


On the eve of his first audition for Australian Idol, the talent show that was set to change his life forever, Shannon Noll was nervous. Not about his audition - after all, he knew he could sing a bit - but about his footy side. He’d just learnt that the date of his audition clashed with his weekend game of footy, and he didn’t want to let the side down. He called his coach. “Do you reckon I should come home for footy?”, he asked. “Nah, I wouldn’t bother mate”, the coach replied. It was sound advice; the Condo-Milby’s scored only nine points that weekend. Shannon Noll scored himself a record contract.

It may read like a fairytale, but in many ways, Shannon’s musical career has come at a price. Shannon grew up on his family’s four and a half thousand acre property at Condobolin in the central west of NSW. Running sheep, cattle, oats and barley, it’s a property that’s been in his family for 92 years. Shannon, along with his two brothers, grew up with an expectation - a pressure even - that he would continue in the family tradition. But as Shannon began tasting regional success with his classic rock covers band, Cypress (named after the Cypress pine timber mill where his band rehearsed), Shannon began to question where his heart lay.

”That’s when it started occurring to me that I was on the wrong track in terms of farming, ‘cause everything we did with music was so positive. I love farming, don’t get me wrong, but it just got too business orientated, whereas it used to be a lifestyle. By the time I got to it, it had became a real business and that feeling of just cruising about and working it out as you go along was getting harder and harder. If you had one failed year at one crop, it put that much extra pressure on you the next year.”

Although Shannon’s parents were endlessly supportive and proud of their sons’ musical endeavours , they viewed it as a sideline rather than a career. “Mum and Dad would go and watch us play and have grins on their faces from ear to ear”, recalls Shannon, “but when we’d see dad the next day and he’d be talking about the land market, his face would light up. Dad was really into music and loved watching us play and we loved the support that he gave us when we played, but I think in his heart he would have always liked us to be farmers. He was the boss of our family and we would have done whatever he told us to”.

But tragedy struck the Noll family two years ago, when Shannon’s father died suddenly in a farming accident. Overnight, Shannon was forced to reassess his priorities. Music may have been the dream but now there was the farm, a fiancé and a six month old son to think about. Reality had kicked him in the guts. The dream would have to wait.

”My middle brother and I ran the farm the next year”, says Shannon, “and we spent umpteen thousand dollars putting the crop in, then we had the worst drought in one hundred years. It was like, ‘Oh, what can we do?’ We just found out after we lost dad that the finances on the place were really bad, then we’d sown a crop, spent a great heap of money, then not even put a header in it. So we got to the stage where if we sowed another crop the next year, we risked losing everything. And as it turned out, it would have been another year like the one just gone”.

So Shannon leased the farm out and got by on drought support money and odd-jobbing on a friend’s farm. That lasted about three months, by which time news of a show called Australian Idol had made its way to Condobolin. And Shannon thought, hell, it’s worth a shot. It’s the dream.

And so it was that Shannon became Australia’s favourite son. Guy may have represented the slick, city crowd, but Shannon - with his larrikin charisma and his gutsy, honest vocals - was the nation’s soul. As the weeks rolled by, Shannon soared in popularity, growing in stature and confidence with every performance. Drawing on songs from Aussie rock greats like Powderfinger and Jimmy Barnes, and international superstars like Frank Sinatra and Bon Jovi, Shannon whipped the competition with his gutsy, emotional delivery and his soaring upper range.

But if you think you’ve seen it all, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

That’s What I’m Talking About, Shannon’s astonishingly accomplished debut album, takes its name from a saying Shannon and his Condobolin mates have been throwing about for the last eight years. Stamped with a classic, 80s pop rock-feel that recalls 80s heroes like The Choirboys, Richard Marx Bryan Adams, John Farnham and Jimmy Barnes, That’s What I’m Talking About has an immediacy that’s intoxicating. But don’t let those pop smarts fool you - this is an album of textures. Effortlessly seguing between bright, punchy rock (Drive), epic power ballads (Learn To Fly, What About Me) sun kissed pop gems (Wise), brooding, key-driven mid tempo rock tracks (Burn) and country tinged rock (The Way That I Feel, which Shannon co-wrote with his brother Damian), That’s What I’m Talking About has the feel of a pop classic.

Of course we could go on and on and about its emotive mix of grit and grandeur, about how its rock heart lifts its pop soul. But that’d just reek of pretension and Shannon Noll is anything but pretentious. Suffice to say that this is an album - and we do mean album, for there’s no filler here - of simply great songs sung by a guy with a voice whose range and feel is truly extraordinary. Without a doubt, That’s What I’m Talking About is set to establish Shannon as one of the country’s truly great vocalists. Like his hero, John Farnham, Shannon Noll is authentic to the bone. There’s not a note here he couldn’t reproduce live… and then some. When Shannon hits that afterburner, take cover! But it’s the ballads here that surprise. True love may travel on a gravel road, but only Shannon makes it sound so sweet.

Shannon’s first single from the album, the raw and emotive What About Me, is already the number one most added track at Australian radio. It’s a stat he’d better get used to, ‘cause there’s plenty more where that came from.

That’s What I’m Talking About is Shannon Noll living the dream. It may have been 27 years in the making, but it’s been worth the wait. Turn it up and enjoy.

THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT is released nationally on February 9th, 2004 through BMG Australia.