It doesn’t take long for my planned coffee with Jon Stevens to go awry. Sitting down, the former INXS and Noiseworks frontman reveals he no longer drinks the stuff.
Even the aromatic brew offered by Albert Park’s Dundas & Faussett can’t tempt him back. This morning, this hard man of rock is sipping lemongrass and ginger tea.
“I don’t really drink alcohol any more either,” Jon says, making a joke of lifting a dainty little finger as he lifts his cup. “You can only drink so much and survive.”
You can’t blame him for taking things easy. At 54, Jon knows he’s lucky to be here. He had a double heart bypass back in 2010, which he says drastically changed his outlook. “I was in hospital for a month, lying there thinking ‘I really want to meet my grandkids’,” he says.
Luckily, he didn’t have long to wait. Jon recently moved to Melbourne from Sydney to spend as much time as possible with his daughter’s two young children, whom he says have become the centre of his existence.
Today, he looks to be a picture of health. With his coiffured grey hair and well-cut leather jacket, he resembles a good-looking uncle who spends his spare time at the gym.
But death still seems to be on Jon’s mind. It lurks beneath his rootsy new album Starlight, co-written with legendary Eurythmics songwriter Dave Stewart.
“Growing up, I went to a lot of funerals. I lost my mum when I was 17,” he says. “Most people don’t discuss death but, for some reason I do. I think it’s a beautiful transition that we all end up getting at the end of the day. It’s the one thing we can’t escape.”
When it comes to music, Jon has no doubt he’s in it for the long haul. As a young musician, he was inspired by seeing elder statesmen Muddy Waters and “Wee Willie” Dixon perform the blues at a gig in LA.
“I left thinking ‘that’s where I want to be when I grow up’,” he says.
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Jon certainly seems more comfortable looking forward than looking back. He’s an affable bloke but admits he gets rankled when people want only to talk about his heyday with Noiseworks.
The group, Jon included, recorded a new album last year, but there are no plans to release it. For now, he is happy as a solo artist.
“At the end of the day, it’s you you’re looking at it in the mirror,” Jon says. “Am I happy with me as a human being? Yeah, I am. I’ve got two grandchildren. I love what I do. I’m blessed in so many ways.”
- Jon Stevens will play July 14-15 at the The Palms at Crown, Melbourne, crownmelbourne.com.au
- Starlight is out through Liberator Music, jonstevens.com
BREW HA HA
Dundas & Fausset
THE PLACE \ The perfect place for a mid-week brunch, with a clean, bright and modern interior and a stash of outdoor tables so Fido can snuggle your ankles as you browse the morning papers.
THE FOOD \ The all-day breakfast menu is as broad and tantalising as you’ll find this side of the Yarra. There are acai bowls, ricotta hotcakes and the requisite smashed avo, but I had my eye on the grilled broccolini with poached eggs.
THE BREW \ The beans are Five Senses’ chocolatey Crompton Road blend (although we stuck with tea leaves). It’s still harder than it should be to find a good pot of tea in a Melbourne cafe, but my Earl Grey poured as a perfect amber liquor.