Singer shares her Late Night Tunes
Noonan talks success, school and ciggies
WHENyou think of angelic Australian voices, Katie Noonan’s name is always front of mind. Katie was the lead singer in the band George, which enjoyed a meteoric rise in the ’90s and early 2000s.
The band’s first album, Polyserena, reached number one in the Australian charts. Katie is soon to release her next solo minialbum, Late Night Tunes with Noons.
Matt Collins: Are you a coffee woman, Katie?
Katie Noonan: I am not. I am a bona fide tea freak. I used to drink coffee through my teenage years and uni. I used to smoke cigarettes too, which is crazy. For me coffee and ciggies went together. MC: Breakfast of champions. KN: I quit on New Year’s 1999. I thought the world was going to end so it was a big time of change.
MC: Katie, you are a classically trained singer. Wouldn’t that damage your voice?
KN: 100 per cent yes. Look, I was stupid and someone gave me a cigarette when I was a teenager. It is such a horrible, horrible addictive drug. So I was addicted mainly, but secondly I thought it was cool and I thought it was a bit rebellious. This was 20 years ago, so everyone was still smoking in venues. When we first started gigging, you are breathing in 1000 people’s smoke and when you are singing and taking in massive big breaths to get the notes … I definitely got asthmatic symptoms during tours just breathing in all that smoke.
MC: Let’s talk about the great success you had with George. How did that start?
KN: George kind of accidentally started in the loungeroom over a jam with two sets of siblings – the twins and my brother and I.
MC: Did you know you guys had something special early on?
KN: Yeah, I think we did. I knew I loved making music with those people and we all genuinely really loved each other. I think the fact it started with two sets of siblings gave it a real family vibe, obviously.
MC: What sort of bands did you look up to at that early stage?
KN: Well, an album called Grace by Jeff Buckley came out at the time and blew our collective mind.
MC: He could sing a little bit. KN: And he made music that didn’t sound like anybody else. That’s what we wanted to do. That’s why seven years later we were the overnight success. Or however long it was. MC: Were you guys independent when Polyserena came out?
KN: No, we got to the point where we couldn’t make the record we wanted to make by ourselves, because records cost a lot of money. We had quite a few record companies vying for our contract, so we were in a position of power and we were able to negotiate accordingly. The one thing we were not prepared to budge on at all was complete creative and artistic control, written in black and white in a contract. So a couple of labels dropped out because of that.
MC: What would you say to Katie Noonan if she was just about to start high school again?
KN: I’d say, ‘Just chill out a bit’. Unfortunately I do think I have a very strong connection between my achievements and my sense of self-worth. Probably thanks to a lovely Catholic upbringing, which does have a lot of awesome things but I think it has a lot of guilt attached to it. I’m still figuring that out now at age 42.
ANGELIC VOICE: Katie Noonan shares a coffee chat with Matt Collins, where she talks success, school, cigaretters, and her upcoming album.