Catching Up With Tyrone Noonan

http://ustralian.com/catching-up-with-tyrone-noonan/

BY  ON JANUARY 31, 2012 · 0 COMMENTS

Tyrone Noonan // photo credit Tim Page

Recently, we had the opportunity to talk to singer/songwriter Tyrone Noonan, formerly of the band george. george, which also included Tyrone’s sister Katie, was a Brisbane band that saw great success in Oz with its first album debuting at #1 on the charts and staying in the top 10 for 15 weeks. They won an Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Award in Australia and performed at the Fifth Rugby World Cup opening ceremony to a live audience of over 1.8 billion people.

After over 10 years of touring around the world, the members of george have gone their separate ways in order to work on individual pursuits. Tyrone is currently living in New York where he is working on new music that can be described as a cross between Coldplay and Lenny Kravitz. His new album, I Believe, was co-produced by Paul Peterson who has worked with Prince and Stevie Wonder, and was mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer Steve Hodge.

Where did you grow up in Australia?
I was born in Sydney and moved up to Brisbane when I was seven. At the time, Brisbane was considered a bit of a cultural backwater and there was a mass exodus of artists because if you wanted to make it you would have to get out of Brisbane and go to Sydney or Melbourne or overseas. Some bands headed to London and two of those bands were The Go-Betweens and The Saints. The Saints are now considered one of the greatest punk bands of all time and music historians recognize Brisbane as one of the true punk kind of towns.

Before you began performing with george you were an investigative journalist, how did that come about?
Growing up in Brisbane under a 32-year semi-fascist kind of regime, there was a great deal of corruption and human rights violations taking place. That regime is what motivated Julian Assange to create WikiLeaks. It was an unbelievable time but was very exciting. Every Friday night was almost like the last night on Earth! Anything could happen. It was almost anarchy. The sub-cultural revolution against this oppressive regime was quite anarchic and it was scary at times. But growing up in Brisbane now, in the gentrified city that it is, would be so boring. I know that growing up that way turned me into the political animal that I am now and led me to go into investigative journalism right out of high school.

So what was your first love? Music or journalism?
Music was my first love. Both my parents were musical. They met on what was the equivalent of Idol of the day. Dad was a journalist but he was also an actor and mum was an opera singer.

photo credit Tim Page

How did your first band come about? Did you plan on starting a band with your sister?
If you would have told me when I was a teenager that that was going to happen, I would have just laughed my head off. There is seven years’ difference between Katie and I. I was the naughty rebel punk kid and she was always telling on me for doing naughty things, so I never thought that would have happened. But I worked for three years as a journalist and I was getting death threats and bricks thrown through my front window so it was getting all a bit much. I went to live in London and Ireland where I worked on music full time and wrote feature articles on the side. I started touring with a great band and every time we almost got signed to a record label one of the other band members would stuff something up.

So then you decided to go back home?
Yep, went back home and decided I was never going to play in a band again. But when I was in Ireland, I had gotten really excited about what was going on in the club scene. There was an emergence of performance art, live music and dj’s going on and I was determined to bring that culture to Brisbane. I bought turntables and started collecting records and I decided I was not going to play in a band again.

What changed your mind?
My sister was at uni in this house full of artists and they started these jam sessions out on the back deck. I had just bought an old Wurlitzer electric piano, which is still my favorite instrument in the world, and I was getting back into playing again, so I started sitting in on these jams. One of the guys had entered a campus band competition and soon put it on us to be that band; and we won the first and second heats. We went all the way through to the national finals and then realized that maybe we should take this seriously.

What was it like winning an ARIA?
Amazing, incredible. I am really proud of what george did because we didn’t compromise anything.  Our whole idea was to make music for ourselves and we didn’t write music to please anyone’s concept of what should be played on radio. We were trying to make the most unique music that we possible could.

How long did that band last for?
We had a ten-year run and then we started to take a break and I put out a jazz record and toured the country with that. Then I put out a rock mini album.

Is there any chance of a reunion?
Yes there is definitely potential for a reunion at some point.

What Australian bands are you a fan of?
I have heaps. Where to start? The Go-Betweens and The Saints, Hunters & Collectors, Midnight Oil. If I had to pick one it would be Midnight Oil because not only were they amazing musicians, but their socio-political message was very strong and since they have decided to call it a day, I don’t know if anyone in Australia has filled that void except maybe John Butler.

Is your new album available?
You can listen to and download the album at www.tyronenoonan.com. Electronic remixes will be coming out a little bit later.For more information on Tyrone, to hear some of his music or to find out where his next gig is, you can visit the following websites:

www.tyronenoonan.com/
www.myspace.com/tyronenoonan
www.facebook.com/tyronenoonan