Life is busy right now for the Noisettes, with a brilliant new single out soon and a support slot with Muse underway. We caught up with guitarist Dan Smith to find out what’s going on in the Noisettes world.
Hi Dan, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. First off, what is the band doing at the moment?
At the moment we’re actually touring with Muse! We’re doing the arena tour which we’ve never done before. It’s pretty daunting with such big crowds. We’re getting used to it now, but the on the first night it was mad – you are just completely dependent on your monitors because you can’t hear a thing. I was bricking it, felt really like a fish out of water.
Are you getting to hang out with them at all?
Yes actually, they’re really nice guys. On some tours you never get to see the headliners but on the first night they came to see us and we went for a few drinks with them – they’re very friendly.
That’s cool. Ideally, where do you see the band in a year’s time?
In a year’s time? I guess getting back what we’ve put in really. Breaking even on our tours, recording more albums, just generally enjoying it more. I guess that’s what every band wants!
How long have you guys been together and how did you form the band?
Well I met Shingai, the singer, just after I left school. I was in a band and we both wanted to do something a bit punky, and eventually we started writing together. The guy who left my band knew Jamie, who’d been performing on Jools Holland with Hayley Willis the night before we met him. I just happened to have been watching it and when he walked in I was like “That’s the guy off the telly!” He’s a hairy guy and he looked like a crazy dwarf.
You’ve got quite an unusual set up in that you’ve got 2 guys and a female singer. How do you think that this affects your sound?
I don’t think it really affects our sound, but I think it affects the way people listen to it. A weird thing happens when women sing. The music industry is a male dominated thing, and people want women to be singing sweetly. Shingai doesn’t sing like that – she’s loud!
So, how would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard your music?
Well I would probably be trying to say stuff and not making sense! I’d say that Shingai sounds like Billie Holiday or someone like that.
Well your new single ‘Don’t Give Up’ sounds to me to have a lot of indie aspects, but it also seems to draw on the Riot Grrl movement. Would you agree with that?
Maybe, yeah. Shingai loves L7 actually, but I don’t think they’ve influenced the way she sings. She really likes Neneh Cherry too, but she’s influenced more by male singers I think, especially male jazz and soul singers.
Who would you cite as influences for yourself?
Jimi Hendrix, definitely. I remember seeing a video of him when I was younger and just being like “Wow!” I’d say Bad Brains as well, and our tour manager is telling me to say Ween – he’s wearing a Ween t-shirt right now.
If you could steal the career of anyone, who would it be?
I wouldn’t want to, I’d feel too bad! Our tour manager is saying Matt Bellamy, but I couldn’t do that! I wouldn’t want to steal anyone’s career from them, but if I had to say anyone it would be the Minutemen. They were a mad band who used to make a real spectacle of coming on stage and setting up their own equipment. They called what they did ‘jamming econo’ – jamming in an economically sound way.
Do you think there’s a lack of bands fronted by strong females at the minute?
There seems to be a lot more female fronted bands at the minute. Two years ago I would have said yes, but with people like the Long Blondes at the minute it’s not too bad. And Be Your Own Pet – I think they’re amazing.
Finally, just to satisfy a personal curiosity, is your name a reference to the fact that you’re loud, or a reference to the French word meaning ‘nutty’?
Both! I hate the Quality Streets that always get left at the end, and they’re called Noisettes. I used to be in a jazzy band called Sonarfly and I wanted to do something really punky which didn’t go down well with them, so I decided that if I ever got in a punky band we’d have to be called something like the Noisettes.
Cheers Dan, good luck with the rest of the tour!