Wes Carr stars in new stage show ‘Rolling Thunder Vietnam’ and reminisces on his time on ‘Idol’.

Rolling Thunder Vietnam – Songs that Defined a Generation blends the personal stories of Vietnam War veterans and classic songs from the wartime era to create a stirring and original narrative.

The 2008 Australian Idol winner Wes Carr, who stars in the production, says it’s a story worth telling. He plays Andy, a shearer who is conscripted and has to leave the family farm.

“We really get to hear the Australian version of what happened in that time, which I think is really powerful,” says Carr.

“I’d never really read a script that evoked something from me, and I felt angry when I read it. And it’s also a true account, which is quite eerie. It’s going to pull on heartstrings a lot.”

In what will be his first professional theatre role, Carr says “it is definitely different to getting up onstage and performing as yourself. This is very new and exciting for me.”

Carr says releasing music independently gives him more freedom to be involved with projects like Rolling Thunder Vietnam.

“I just go where my heart tells me to now; I don’t get involved with politics,” he says. “I think that’s ridiculous. If you’re an artist, you should be able to express or do whatever you want to do.

“When you’re running your own industry outside of the elitism that goes on in the music world, you start becoming more aware of yourself and what you want to say, and not what everyone else wants you to say and do.”

Carr says social media is enabling young artists to build their own brand and manage themselves.

“I think that it’s very important for young musicians to realise that we’re all our own separate entities now – we can run our own ship,” he says, adding that he doesn’t regret going on Idol despite the rocky road of industry politics it took him down.

“If you were to ask me that maybe a year and a half ago I would’ve said yeah, it absolutely ruined my life, but it didn’t at all,” he says. “Nothing external can ruin your life. I’m grateful for everything I’ve gone through in my life, even the bad stuff.

“It’s taken me a while to realise that.”

Rolling Thunder Vietnam will be performed 14 and 15 August, Concert Hall QPAC. Bookings: www.qtix.com.au or 136 246.