NewYork journalist Brad Balfour talks to Tyrone Noonan about his debut solo album I Believe.
In meeting Tyrone Noonan on his return from a recent stay in Australia, where he completed tracks for his solo debut album I Believe, his exuberance comes across as both genuine and infectious. He offers a “G’day” handshake and plops into the chair revved up to talk about the arts. And no wonder.
When singer/songwriter Noonan decided to move from his native Australia, first to England, then New York, it wasn’t a matter of abandoning roots but acknowledging reality. He could live a nice life traveling this island continent, one with a unique history and environs both culturally and ecologically, but the creative challenges had diminished.
The shaggy-maned multi-instrumentalist and talented composer was creating songs that reflected the global influences filtering through Australia, so he felt he had to bring his music to the world – and to go to the sources of these influences directly.
Though he grew up all over Australia, Noonan spent the greater part of his youth in the east coast city of Brisbane in the state of Queensland. As a teenager he witnessed the last throes of a 32-year semi-fascist regime under the “Sir Joh” government, which later informed his decision to work as an investigative journalist before pursuing music full-time. Coincidentally, the corruption and injustice that Julian Assange (like or loathe him) witnessed under the same regime inspired the creation of WikiLeaks.
Noonan trained and worked in writing, theater, and music. He got to know his country, reflected in the stories and lives he detailed in his songs. A highlight was the deep social critique Bastard Son, which touched a nerve with many young men and literally helped to save lives.
Along the way he played in numerous bands, finally settling on the quintet that became known as george. Including sister Katie on keys and vocals, it was his family away from home for 10 years. This art rock band nurtured his creativity, and the dividends were paid back in the great songs he wrote for its double-platinum debut album, Polyserena.
george had a reputation and fan base built on successful independent recordings, extensive touring and indie radio support(particularly from national youth radio network Triple J), but had received little commercial radio play prior to release.
Against the odds, the album debuted nationally at No 1 and remained in the Top 10 for 15 weeks, reaching double platinum and spawning the hits Breathe in Now and Breaking It Slowly. Suffice to say, commercial radio soon came on board.
george ultimately released eight EPs, two albums and an award-winning DVD, while conducting multiple tours throughout Australia, Ireland, the UK and Japan.
The band won an ARIA (Australian Grammy) and performed live to 1.8 billion people for the Fifth Rugby World Cup opening ceremony. The band commanded huge audiences and media coverage but decided to go out on a high note with an
Noonan then released a top 10 AIR (Australian indie chart) jazz album, the self-titled debut Palimpsest, followed by the critically-acclaimed rock mini-album Heavy Soul Part One and subsequent successful national tours. His international aspirations soon led to a three month writing/recording stint across the US, followed by an extended period in London, before settling in his current home base of New York.
Having completed his first full solo album I Believe, Noonan is ready to bring his unique musical perspective to both the United States and the world. This uplifting and thoughtful album encapsulates the sounds of Australia, the US and the UK, easily combining pop, rock, soul and reggae, whilst delving into topics both personal and geopolitical.
Also on the way are several cutting edge electronic remixes, which will be dropping like bombs over New York dance floors in summer 2011. And with a hot new band featuring some of New York’s brightest musical talent, Tyrone now looks set to join the honor roll of Aussies who’ve helped create musical history in the USA.