I caught up with Jon Stevens, former front man of rock outfits Noiseworks and INXS (post-Hutchence) among other things, to discuss the imminent release of his solo album, Starlight. Originally from New Zealand, Stevens found the beaches and life style in Australia irresistible and has called Australia home since his early years, forging a lengthy career in the music industry.
I asked Stevens about his success as a 16 year old in New Zealand and how that impacted his career. ‘I was like the Justin Bieber of New Zealand…it wasn’t something I asked for or even wanted, just something that happened…I couldn’t stand it’. In Australia Stevens put the solo career on the shelf and became the lead singer and song writer for Noiseworks. ‘That band was put together with a bunch of mates’ remembers Stevens, ‘you start drinking beer and playing guitar and before you know it you’re a band. It was a lot of fun…we all managed to stay alive so far…it was great days in Australian music’.
Seeing the legendary bluesman Muddy Waters perform was a real inspiration to the young Stevens and helped build his resolve as a musician. ‘It’s not a job you retire from [making music]…I’m born to do this because that’s all I’ve ever known, it’s all I’ve ever done, all I ever want to do…I’ll do that until I fall off the stool’. A more recent visit to the US resulted in a chance encounter with another legend, Ringo Starr (Beatles) at a friend’s dinner party. Steven’s was game enough to ask Ringo to play drums on One way street which appears on the new album. ‘No one ever asks me to play drums’ said Stevens of Ringo ‘he [Starr] was in the middle of a tour, he was in Las Vegas and he flew back to LA and recorded his drums at his house…I just can’t tell you how proud and honoured I am to have a Beatle on my album’.
The first single off the album Hold on, has a hectic film clip with a Lethal Weapon/Mad Max feel. I asked how it was possible to film in one day given the explosions and seemingly elaborate set design. ‘We actually did 2 film clips in one day, we did that one and Starlight actually…Jesse Davey, a young director dude…he just knows what he wants and he does it…we shot the blow up stuff in the morning then drove out to Mojave desert and shot all the other stuff in the afternoon…when you work with great people who know what they’re doing they just go about their business and do it’.
Jon Stevens will be touring Europe in the coming months accompanied by an 11 piece band before embarking on an Australian tour later in the year which Stevens promises will include Adelaide. ‘I’ll definitely get to Adelaide…it’s been ages since I’ve played there so really looking forward to it’.
Starlight – Jon Stevens
Out Friday 31 March through Liberator Music/BMG