THE NOISETTES ARE WILD AT HEART
Dazed Digital talk to The Noisettes about tripping at the Natural History Museum amongst other inspiration tales.
Text by David Hellqvist | Published 19 March 2009
With a critically lauded headlining tour just finished, London trio The Noisettes took time out to talk to Dazed Digital about new album Wild Young Hearts. Even if you don’t recognise the name you’re more than likely to have heard, and nodded along to, the album’s first single – Don’t Upset the Rhythm – which accompanied a Mazda advert earlier this year. But do not judge; The Noisettes has been labelled “Best Live Band in Britain” by the Guardian and their new songs are set to make to you dance, whenever and wherever you are.
The Noisettes formed in 2003 after vocalist Shingai Shoniwa and guitarist Dan Smith abandoned their previous band constellation, Sonarfly, and hooked up with experienced drummer Jamie Morrison. Touring and recording followed, which led to an extensive and worldwide fan base and their first album, 2007’s What’s The Time Mr. Wolf? Two years on, and The Noisettes are back with soul-tinged disco and sleek pop stompers.
Dazed Digital: The new album is called Wild Young Hearts – is that how you feel?
Shingai Shoniwa: Well, everyone’s got a young heart. It doesn’t age, the skin does but not the heart.
DD: What was the starting point for the new album
Dan Smith: We were sitting around a piano listening to Darn That Dream by Miles Davis and Shingai just started improvising. At first it was like 1940’s jazz but then we turned it into punk rock – kind of like the Ramones meets Billy Eckstine!
DD: Is it true tou went stoned to the National History Museum for inspiration?
DS: Yeah, it was great. I’ve never stared at one artefact for so long. We were looking at samurai outfits and swords for ages. Normally you just breeze through, but if you look really close you’ll see the craft and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into making it.
DD: How did that help with the music?
DS: It opened my eyes to the fact that music has lots of meanings and layers.
DD: You played around with a lot of covers in the lead up to recording Wild Young Hearts, why?
DS: Yeah, we recorded a song over someone else’s melody. We fooled around with Britney’s One More Time and Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder.
DD: Did any of it end up on the album?
JM: No, but the Cheap Kicks song of the album came about in a similar way. We rearranged melodies and lyrics and made it our own.
DD: What are the main differences between your two albums?
SS: Many, for obvious reasons. We’ve toured for over two years and are different people now. We have more stories to tell now, more things to say!
DD: And musically?
SS: We still make heavy music but got rid of some of the guitars.
DS: And added electronic layers, like synths.
SS: Yeah, we went all out on this one!
JM: We bought an analogue handmade drum machine from the 80’s and it makes the most amazing sounds.
SS: It’s a bit like early LL Cool J.
DS: Or Kraftwerk.
DD: Some people say you’ve found your true sound with this album.
SS: You never find your sound, that’s bollocks.
JM: If we make another record it will sound completely different from this one. You should change. Change is good.
SS: And remember we got our name from a box of chocolates that is full of surprises and so are we – you never know what you’re going to get with us!
DD: Wild Young Hearts is a lot more commercial than the previous album – was the intentional?
SS: Yeah, we really wanted to reach people this time. We don’t want our music to be exclusive in any way.
DD: The three of you have very different taste in music but there must be some artists that you all love
SS: Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath…
JM: Diana Ross, Motown, jazz
DD: What contemporary music do you rate?
SS: I like bands that have old influences but do it in a new way, like TV On the Radio and Massive Attack, but many of today’s solo artists just take some something old and slightly change a few details.
DD: This is a bit of a family affair for you, Shingai?
SS: Yeah, my little brother sings backing vocals on Saturday Night and Sometimes. We recorded on his summer holidays and he just came down to hang out.
DS: He’s 14 and his voice was about to break. He sings a really high note in the last chorus of Saturday Night.
SS: He was really good - he was a semi-finalist on that TV talent show I’d Do Anything!
DD: What do you think about being crowned Best British Live Band?
JM: It’s completely justified. No one else can compare to us, we put a lot more that 100% in what we do.
SS: Yeah, It’s better to be loved or hated than forgotten by the wayside!