He’s kicked back with Tina Turner, but at home Jason Singh is just a big kid who can’t believe the ride he has had.
As the lead singer of Taxiride, he toured the world and topped the music charts. Now the Point Cook dad is preparing to release his first solo album, Humannequin.
Singh looks much younger than his 39 years and has a child-like wonder at how he ‘‘fluked it’’ into the tough music industry and survived without ever having to get a “day job”.
“I never picked up a guitar until I was 21,” he says.
“Then within two years we were number one in the country, although by then I was the lead singer, not a guitarist.”
Taxiride’s 1999 debut album Imaginate topped the Australian music charts and won the best new artist ARIA award, while songs Get Set and Everywhere You Go become top 10 hits.
Along with Savage Garden, Taxiride dominated the airwaves.
Way before the bright lights, Singh flirted with the idea of being a musician in high school when he was with a mate at a bus stop and started to sing.
“Simon said, ‘You really can sing’. It amazed me – he was the first one to tell me that and I believed him,” he says.
“Subconsciously, I have wanted to sing my whole life. I was surrounded by music, with two older sisters in charge of the turntable, one playing Prince, the other AC/DC.” In his late teens, Singh put together a covers band called Mud, but it was a chance invitation to audition for another then unknown band that led to his success.
“I knew a girl at a talent agency and she was going out with Jimmy Christo [an original Taxiride member] who asked her if she knew someone who could sing,” he says.
“She told them about me and Jimmy called me in … I sang Tracy Chapman’s Give Me One Reason. They changed the key higher, and I could do it. They kept changing the key higher and higher, and I could still do it.
“The next day they said, ‘You’re in the band’.”
The band then recruited instrumentalist Dan Hall.
“We found Dan literally busking for cigarette money and asked him to come to the studio for a barbecue, but we ambushed him and got him to play and he stayed,” Singh says.
“Here I was, the lead singer in Taxiride, surrounded by very gifted people who wanted to do the best, be the best – people like Dan Hall who could play anything. Three months later we signed with Warner Brothers.”
The fun included touring Europe with Tina Turner, who hired a movie theatre for a night so the tour group could have some peace.
“It was the middle of the night and we were there with Tina watching The Perfect Storm,” he says. “It was the worst movie, but we thought, you can’t get up and leave after Tina’s gone to so much trouble. Taxiride took me to Europe several times – we performed at Wembley Stadium, we did 48 states in America a few times, and toured Japan.”
The ride finished in 2006 when he left the band. But Singh hasn’t stopped performing and has been working quietly on building a solo career.
“After Taxiride I wanted to find out why I wanted to be a musician,” he says. “I could see the look in the eyes of people in the audience – I got instant gratification from them.
“I want to be an entertainer, I’m not a guy who wants to be famous. For me it’s about getting back that instant reaction.
“I’m a performer and I needed songs to perform, so I’m also a songwriter.”
Singh is a father to two boys, Zeppelin, 5, and Kashmir, 2, and has been together with his wife, Leah, for 16 years – throughout the entire Taxiride journey.
“My father was Indian and my mother Maltese,’’ Singh says. ‘‘His name was Mahendra, which means Joe. And in Maltese Joe is Zep and, of course, there’s Led Zeppelin.
“My father had the Kashmir restaurants and there’s also Led Zeppelin’s song Kashmir, so my youngest is called that.
“Everything I do is for my family. With my kids, I would bleed for them, I love family life; we are homebodies.’’
Even so, Singh remains in demand.
‘‘In the past three years I have done 800 shows,” he says.
“On grand final weekend it was crazy. I did seven gigs, including two at the casino. And I play at the Sanctuary Lakes Hotel every Friday night – I love it.”
For his solo album, Singh turned to Savage Garden producer Charles Fisher, who he met with other Taxiride members in the early 2000s.
“We met in a cafe in LA,” he says. “ Charles was flying high with the success of Savage Garden’s debut album that sold a million units in Australia and over 15 million worldwide. We asked him how he would produce us.
“He said, ‘Well, you guys would set up and start playing, and I would hit record’. He was funny.
“Fast forward a couple of years and I’m preparing songs for my own album and heard Charles had relocated from LA to Melbourne, so I contacted him.
“To have a world-class producer listen to my demo was fantastic … then he wanted to produce it. It was a dream come true.”
The first single from the album, Hold On Forever, is a big-sounding multi-formatted pop/rock dance track.
“Going solo is like running a marathon,’’ Singh says, “while with Taxiride it was a sprint to the top and trying to hang on for as long as you could.”
» Humannequin will be launched at the Toff In Town, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne, on December 4 from 7.30pm