Classy Noll

BEFORE Shannon Noll auditioned for Australian Idol he was frontman of a cover band that used to emulate Good Charlotte, Jimmy Barnes and Midnight Oil.

Almost a decade later, Noll has collaborated on his fourth album with Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden and is preparing for a 23-date tour to perform songs by the Australian musicians who have shaped his career.

‘‘A lot of times earlier in the piece, many people doubted me or didn’t think I’d last five minutes,’’ Noll said.

‘‘I think a lot of that gives me determination to succeed. Having a young family too, I want to set up a future for everybody, you don’t know how long this will last or how long you can do this for so you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines.

‘‘I want to do something terrific.’’

Noll’s ongoing success following his No.1 debut single What About Me is a testament to the work ethic honed during his upbringing on the family farm at  Condobolin.

While other musicians have shunned the Idol label, Noll cannot speak highly enough of the television show that launched his career.

‘‘It’s a great platform and unbelievable opportunity to get some awareness about what you can do and who you are,’’ he said. ‘‘I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way.

‘‘It was a fast track to an opportunity.

‘‘I went from driving a tractor one minute to doing in-stores with 10,000 people.’’

Momentum hasn’t slowed, with the recent release of his fourth album, A Million Suns.

Noll wrote 50 songs in two years and teamed up with songwriters including Brooke McClymont and Benji Madden.

‘‘People say to me all the time ‘What comes first, the music or the lyrics?’ and it’s sort of like the chicken and the egg,’’ he said.

‘‘When you get to sit in a room with songwriters as prolific as Brooke and Benji are, it’s great to watch how they approach the songwriting process and how they go about doing it. It’s really inspiring and great to learn from, too.’’

Many of the songs are deeply personal, including Long Way Home, which  documents the unglamorous side of being on the road.

‘‘There’s a lot of pressure that you’re under in my job. I can never call in and have a sickie,’’ Noll said.

‘‘The whole thing rides on one person and that’s a fairly big weight to carry a lot of the time when you’ve got to run the whole business, or run the tour, and also you’re the income generator from it too, so I suppose it’s like the dancing bear running the circus.’’

Away from music, Noll has moved his family from the rush of Sydney to a farm in Victoria, where his wife, Rochelle, and daughter, Sienna, ride horses and his sons, Blake and Cody, ride motorbikes.

‘‘We’re a bit farmy. I wanted to get back and potter around outside and fix fences and have my own sheep and that kind of stuff,’’ he said.

Noll appeared on the last season of Dancing With The Stars – which he withdrew from when he required emergency spinal surgery – and wrote a book called So Far.

He said he wanted to document the recent life changes he had made – moving house, changing record labels and marking 10 years in the industry – as well as his youth before Idol and the roller-coaster that followed.

It was difficult opening up about drug use in his youth, the suicide of friends, the death of his dearly-loved father and the challenges of life on the land.

‘‘But I think it was therapeutic too,’’ he said. ‘‘Especially the dad stuff. You sort of put that stuff away and don’t think about it a lot as much as you can and then all of a sudden it comes up and blindsides you a bit.

‘‘So I think it was good to go through it, rehash it, document it the way it sort of happened so people can understand why and where we’re coming from.

‘‘Reading it back I must say I was laughing and crying and all that.’’

Noll will continue to write music for as long as he can, saying his voice was now stronger than it had ever been.

He is preparing for the In My Youth tour, which will stop at Lizotte’s  on February 15.

‘‘I really love a lot of mid-’80s and early ’90s Australian rock music from when I was growing up and I figure we all did really with Cold Chisel, Men at Work and Australian Crawl,’’ he said.

‘‘I think it was a golden era in that time in Australian music so it’s paying tribute to all the songs I’ve grown up listening to and playing in cover bands.’’

Shannon Noll will play Lizotte’s Newcastle on February 15. Tickets from 49562066 or