Last month, Jon Stevens released his latest solo album, Woman, and is currently touring around the country.
The lead singer of Noiseworks and former frontman of INXS and Dead Daisies has had a challenging year and this is evident in the emotive songs and genuine catharsis of the new record.
Having released his first album Jezebel as a solo artist in 1980, Jon has seen a lot of changes in the industry over his 35 year career, some for better and some for worse.
“We did an acoustic version of ‘Woman’, which is going gangbusters on youtube right now. That’s what I’m starting to learn about the Internet. It’s just so accessible. It’s easy to do stuff without all the bells and whistles; it’s keeping it small and organic,” he says.
“It’s good because commercial radio doesn’t play new Australian music. They play old Australian music, which is fine, but 25 years later, you’re still playing ‘Take Me Back’ but you won’t play ‘Woman’? Come on! I would rather they take ‘Take Me Back’ off and put ‘Woman’ on, but radio is about advertising and not about music. But I didn’t make a record to be played on radio. I couldn’t give a shit.”
Jon made Woman because he needed music to get him through a difficult period of his life.
On this record, he’s clearly wearing his heart on his sleeve, which he says he’s done with every album he’s written.
“It’s funny,” he says. “When you make a record, especially one like this one, with so many stories and emotions attached to it, it’s a cathartic experience; getting it out there is like letting it go. It’s a release of the demons, or the heart so to speak.
“I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve. I write from a true perspective. I don’t write to make shit up. I write from what I’ve been through, what I feel, what I observe and what I believe in and what I’m happy or unhappy about. I’ve always felt that, when I write a song, if I get that instinctive gut feeling from it, then maybe someone out there is going to hear it and it’ll help them,” he says.
During our chat, Jon comes back to the theme of music as therapy a number of times.
He’s candid and honest when he tells me music has saved his life many times, and he hopes he can save others as well.
“We all have similar experiences, and music is the great healer. Music brings it all together and brings people together. It soothes you and moves you. It helps. If any of my songs can help someone going through a similar pain then, great. I’ve done my job. That’s what I’ve been doing all these years; writing songs from the heart,” he says.
“Music is central to wellbeing. If I didn’t have music, I would have shot myself in the head years ago. That’s part of the tortured artist though. But music saved my life many times. I lost two brothers to suicide, so I have that gene, so music saves me.”
The songs on Woman speak of love and loss, but it’s not a morbid album; there are some solid rock tunes and even a bit of hip hop with a special guest lyricist.
“On ‘In Your House’, my son Levi did the rap. I’d written the song and had an extended outro, and then I thought it sounded really epic and I wanted to keep the groove going. I thought, Levi could throw down on this,” he says.
“He came to the studio and I said, ‘Here’s the lyrics, here’s the bit I want you to sing over,’ and he listened to it and wrote his lyrics and in two takes, he did it. I thought, Wow, my little boy! Well, he’s not so little, he’s 22 and a lot bigger than me! He’s a good lad.”
Jon says this album is a defining moment in his life and he is looking forward to sharing the songs in a live set, as well as some of his back catalogue.
“I’m very connected to all the songs on Woman,” he says. “They all mean a lot to me, and if people hear the songs or read the words and it stops them doing stupid shit, that’s good. Love makes no sense. It makes you crazy and people do strange things. This album is something to listen to if you like to rock and you’re going through stuff, and you want to hear something that points you in a good direction.
“On this trip, I’ll be playing songs off the new one and bits and pieces. The album might only sell 100 copies so I might be playing all the old stuff,” he laughs.
Heading to The Gov to play an acoustic set on October 24, Jon says he has a genuine affinity with Adelaide and its people.
“Adelaide has always been a great supporter of local music. It’s a great place. I love Adelaide, always have. I’ve played The Gov a few times over the years. It’s a great venue. People are always cool,” he says.
Grab your tickets to Jon Stevens at The Gov through the venue and stay tuned for future tour news about Noiseworks, who have just finished a new album with Jon at the helm.
By Libby Parker