“I don’t really think about my instrument too much, I never have, I just sing. I grew up in a family that was always singing. It’s part of the Maori culture. It’s been natural to me since I was three or four.”
You’ve heard Jon Stevens sing. You’ve heard the sonic boom of Noiseworks and INXS; the dramatic versatility of Judas in the blockbuster ‘90s version of Jesus Christ Superstar; the alternately tender and tearing voice of five solo albums; his powerhouse work with John Farnham and the Black Sorrows. You’ve heard Jon loud and clear for 20-odd years – longer if you grew up in New Zealand. But you’ve never heard him like this.
“I’ve spent most of my life in loud rock bands where a Iot of times I couldn’t even hear my own voice,” Jon says. “In a band like Noiseworks or INXS there’s so much energy on the stage that you’re running on pure instinct. Working on this acoustic album was quite a revelation. It’s so nice to settle into an acoustic set-up and hear every note.”
The Works is the culmination of Jon’s last yyear on the road with the acoustic trio of Tony Kopa, Chris Bekker and Simon Hosford. It’s a tight and emotional re-crafting of tunes from three Noiseworks albums, his most recent solo record, Ain’t No Life For The Faint Hearted, and some old favourites.
“Some of these songs, Noiseworks rarely played,” he says. “Love Vs. Money we never played live but it translates really well in this form. Take Me Back we kept pretty true to the original; Freedom and Touch are a little bit different. “I really surprised myself with R.I.P (Millie). Noiseworks only did it a couple of times cause I couldn’t handle the emotion of it (it’s dedicated to Jon’s mother, who died of cancer). “Over the years I’ve had so many people tell me how much R.I.P (Millie) has helped them deal with their own loss in their lives. To be able to impact on peoples lives in such a positive way is incredibly inspiring,” says Jon.
Even at low amps, the band’s chemistry is amazingly potent. It ranges from the R&B groove of Light My Fire (that’s Tony’s rap in the breakdown) to an incredible bass/ vocal arrangement of Jealous Guy to a scorching finale of Hot Chilli Woman – one of three tracks captured live in Sydney in February. With one of the mightiest voices ever heard in Australian music, Jon Stevens is captured here at a new peak of power and intimacy.