I had the pleasure recently of catching up with singer/songwriter Jon Stevens who is currently on the road promoting his latest album, ‘Woman’; an album packed full of emotion, energy and, as he puts it, songs about ‘love and loss’ and arguably his finest work to date. And he gets to share some of those songs with his fans on this tour at his live shows. “I’m playing some of my new songs and the old stuff that people want to hear but it is a very difficult time to figure out what to play.” With new material being slotted in to his set, obviously some of the older songs have to be dropped to make way for the new but he assures me that most of the old favourites will remain. “The old stuff that people want to hear like ‘Take Me Back’, ‘No Lies’ and ‘Touch’, you’ve always got to play.”
But he does enjoy having the chance to play songs from the new album and Jon is happy to report that they are being very well received by audiences around the country.
It had been a year since I last spoke with Jon and what a year it has been for the singer, to say the least. A lot has happened since then. “It certainly has,” he agrees. “A lot has happened…” It has been a tumultuous year for Jon and he is truly overwhelmed by the way his fans have been there for him through these tough times. “It’s been amazing,” he remarks, clearly humbled by the support. “I think people who come to see the show have been on a journey with me so it feels really connected. I connect a lot with my audience and I love playing.”
The journey has not been an easy one for Jon lately and the music on his latest album is a product of that journey. “Very much so this year, for sure,” he confirms. “It’s emotions; it’s experiences; it’s songs of love and loss. That’s the only way I can describe the album really. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and being able to get all those feelings out (in music) is kind of cathartic in a way, instead of bottling it all up.”
Jon believes that ‘Woman’ is his best album so far. “It rocks! There’s a lot of my emotion on it. It’s just one of those things where it’s just a time and place in my life and all these songs poured out and now that it’s out in the public, I can move on from everything and start my life again now.”
For Jon, that means spending more time with his family. “I have two children and I have two grandchildren and my life always revolves around them. I’m just like everybody else, I work hard and I miss my family. I think everyone does. And if they don’t, they should.”
And speaking of family… Jon’s son, Levi, makes a guest appearance on the new album.
“Levi is on the song ‘In Your House’,” Jon tells me, proudly. “He performed that rap at the end which I’m very proud of. It’s the first time we’ve worked together. He’s just finished his own album called ‘Waves’ and he’s just recorded his own video which he has done by himself which has nothing to do with me. I’ve always taught him to be independent. I’m very proud of Levi and what he’s doing and he’s developing as a songwriter. When he was young, about 15 or 16, and said he wanted to be in music, I said ‘Well if it’s calling, give it a go and if you don’t like it…’ but he has persevered with it and to do what he’s done, it’s fantastic.”
Jon’s first single from the album, the title song ‘Woman’, topped the ARIA charts and he struggles to comprehend why there has been little if any support from radio. “I just don’t understand radio in this country,” he laments. “I just don’t get it. They don’t really support the local artists. It’s funny, I go out and play sell out shows everywhere and I’ve been putting out new records for years and years and years but everywhere I go, they still play the songs from 20 or 30 years ago which is great but… really… we’re still living and breathing artists. Other artists who have been around for a long time, they have new material out. Is it being played on the radio? I don’t know.” Unfortunately Jon’s views appear to echo those of most local artists who are constantly fighting an uphill battle to get airplay for their new material which, in many cases, is their finest work to date. Despite the lack of airplay, though, Stevens is heartened by the fact that the fans still love and support his music and his shows continue to sell out around the country.
Jon’s busy schedule of touring with his solo shows takes him right through to the end of the year. “I finish my last show on New Year’s Eve in Western Australia and fly home on the 1st January and then start the Red Hot Summer Tour with Noiseworks on the 2nd January. That pretty much goes through all of January and then, in February, I’m out on the ‘Woman’ tour again.”
He tells me there will be a second single from the album very soon and another hopefully early next year. “And we just finished the Noiseworks album this year too,” he reveals. “So, come January, that will be out.” This will be Noiseworks’ first studio album in over twenty years and fans have been waiting eagerly for news of its release but, once again, he is doubtful that their new product will receive any airplay. “Radio’s not going to play it but it doesn’t matter anyway because the fans will get it and they’ll hear it and they’ll want to see the band and the band is still firing on all cylinders. We’re still a great rock band and I haven’t stopped. I haven’t stopped at all.”
“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m feeling great and I think that, as far as performing goes, I’ve been able to deliver. I’m way, way better than I was twenty five years ago,” he laughs. “When you’re on the road a lot, you get late nights and early rises and lots of travelling and you get into lack of sleep mode with no energy to train but when I’m home, I do it all the time. I get as much sleep as I can and stay healthy.”
While he admits that the events of this past year have been ‘seriously traumatising’, Jon believes that staying fit and healthy and looking after himself has helped him to cope and he has these sage words of advice for anyone dealing with stress and emotional trauma. “I think for anyone who has gone through an emotional trauma or whatever, I think that most people… certainly a lot of people that I chat to… lean towards alcohol and drown their sorrows but in the end you get caught out. You’re better off leaning towards keeping fit and being healthy. The mind needs to be really sharp because emotionally you get so dragged down within the mud and things go pear shaped. We all go through it. Every person who’s been in love goes through it. Love and loss; it’s just human nature and sometimes, it’s worse than others…”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2015. All rights reserved