Guy Sebastian: ‘I’m not patient zero’
Guy Sebastian wants to set the record straight - he did not start coronavirus.
He's absolutely not patient zero.
He did visit Wuhan back in November, posting a picture of himself on Instagram, captioned: "Loved hanging out in Wuhan, China. Ate some seriously interesting things (more to come about that later). And met some beautiful people, China is stunning in so many ways. #China #LetMeDrink."
Sh*tAdelaide, the parody social media site based in his hometown, revisited the picture when the global pandemic took hold, pointing the finger at the Sony singer and returning coach on Nine's The Voice.
"First he robs Australian great Shannon Noll of a deserved Idol win and then he goes and starts coronavirus."
The down-to-earth star laughs off the satire and, typically good-natured, takes it all in his stride.
His jovial mood is surprising, given the fact Sebastian's been up until the wee hours of the morning recording a charity single for a mate when we chat via FaceTime (we both agree to leave our video cameras off).
While he's been jokingly blamed for the virus, he's made good use of the quarantine time, writing up a storm since isolating at home (with new music due out very soon).
"I don't think it's unlocked any special creativity per se," he says.
"I think it's the mere fact you're at home. I've just had a bit more time to create. Normally I'm staring at a massively full calendar."
That packed schedule meant Sebastian had to rush home from LA, just as COVID-19 started
to ramp up, arriving just days before the Morrison government mandated two weeks' quarantine in hotels for all returning international travellers.
It meant he could safely isolate at home with wife Jules and their boys, Hudson and Archie. He'd just been in Europe doing shows and saw the beginnings of the virus before its relentless march across the globe.
And just as the world is a different place, The Voice Australia will have a very different look this year.
The four coaches - Sebastian, Delta Goodrem, Kelly Rowland and Boy George - have all returned for season nine of the series - pre-recording all the blind auditions before lockdown.
"This is reality TV and there's not much more real than what we are all facing,' Sebastian says.
"We are all in this together and I think viewers understand they are getting a different experience. It will be another historical television moment.
With most households working from home or isolated inside them, Sebastian argues the appetite for this year's competition is greater than ever before.
"We're in a great place at the moment where I think people are hungry to be distracted. They're loving family time but are also looking for things to do, so it helps having a show with such wonderful production values and incredible talent. I'm pretty proud to be involved.
With strict border controls, Sebastian's not even sure Boy George and Rowland will be in the country, come the live rounds.
LA-based Extra entertainment presenter Renee Bargh, who will co-host with Darren McMullen, has already returned home for quarantine.
"I still don't know exactly how it will look," he confesses. "I thought yesterday 'I bet they're going to surprise me and Delta with what it looks like.' I feel like everyone's been told to keep it a secret, but I might be completely wrong. There's definitely a plan, there's all sorts of rumours, but I'm totally in the dark."
What's not up in the air is the quality of the auditioning talent.
"There's a couple that are insane singers," he reveals. "I'd go as far as to say one of the best voices I've ever heard in my life."
There's twists aplenty too, with the advent of "the Block".
No, not the other Nine ratings juggernaut, but a new button on those red spinning chairs which each coach can use to prevent another from getting an artist.
"I kind of hated "the Block" … when you get all passionate and you know that's the perfect one for your team and you desperately want to mentor them and then someone hits a button and strategically blocks you. It was quite annoying."
While Boy George has traditionally been the most feisty, Sebastian confesses he may own that title this season, attributing it to the lack of AFL.
"I've got all this pent-up energy and the worst part is I hate it when [we] lose to the [Sydney] Swannies. I just love when the Crows get up over them and now all I've been left with is this bitter taste," the one-eyed Adelaide Crows supporter says, referring to the only game his team has played - and lost - thus far.
"But you know what? Boy [George] has come back in the most super sweetheart zen place.
No joke, he is just being the most encouraging, so non-provocative. He just will not engage in anything that is combative.
Always upbeat, Sebastian believes the music and TV industry will re-emerge, post-corona, brighter and better.
"I'm striving to find the positives - I think at the end of the day [as musicians] we're in for a bit of a rude shock when we get back to normal life," he says.
"People are going to be starving for live music and I think there's going to be this new level of appreciation … even though it seems very tough at the moment. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and people are going to appreciate it, even if it's just down the road at your local pub."
* The Voice airs 7pm, Sunday, 7.30pm Monday and Tuesday on Nine.
Originally published as Guy Sebastian: 'I'm not patient zero'