UK-France electronic rock duo The Noise Who Runs presents 'Beautiful Perhaps', the anthemic first track from their imminent 'Preteretrospective’ LP, scheduled for release on April 7. This follows 'These Will Be Your Gods' EP, released in January, and ‘High Time in Lo-Fi’, their third EP released in mid-2022. The Noise Who Runs is the project of songwriter and performer Ian Pickering, best known as a member of and songwriter for 90s British trip hop outfit Sneaker Pimps, having co-written such hits as 'Spin Spin Sugar', '6 Underground' and 'Tesko Suicide'. Over the past two years, he has churned out this new album while also working on the new Sneaker Pimps album. Hailing from Hartlepool in the north-east of England, Pickering launched this project in 2019, three years after relocating to Lille, France. Today, The Noise Who Runs is a duo of Pickering with Brazilian-born French guitarist Felipe Goes. Today Myth of Rock presents our chat with these two fine sound-crafters….
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
How did The Noise Who Runs emerge? Can you share your backstory?
Felipe: We met at work. I think I wasn’t supposed to work that day and was just covering for someone. Anyway, we talked about music for a bit and that’s how the two of us decided to play some music together.
Ian: I’d never see him before. He was new at the office. But he had a guitarist look about him and I’d just decided to put a group together to play all these new songs I’d been working on since I moved to France. It was a perfect coincidence - he WAS a guitarist and he was Brazilian, and my son is half-Brazilian, so, to me, it was a sign. So we set about rehearsing, recording a little as we went along. Then the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns and confinements started and everything shifted towards remote recording and production. Three years later, we really need to get back into the rehearsal rooms and work up a new set. It’s gonna be very different to the pre-Covid approach.
“These Will Be Your Gods” is your new EP. Introduce this EP to the fans, please.
Felipe: We’ve made tons of music, a lot of which is unreleased as of today. This is our best music yet.
Ian: There’s a lot of things to be learnt in the world. Listening to fucking arseholes making speeches, aspiring to their cheap fortunes, vacuous talents and runaway egos isn’t the good way. This is the start of the soundtrack to the fight for change that we’ve so far failed to win.
Who is the main composer in The Noise Who Runs? How is a typical song of The Noise Who Runs composed?
Felipe: Ian does most of the work. Lyrics, music, most of it really. Then he sends me the song or plays it to me when we meet up. I try to figure out what’s going on and then play some guitar and keyboards, turn off a few sounds, turn others back on. Basically it’s musical lego.
Ian: He means chess! Musical chess. Musical chess, made from lego.
Which are your music influences? What music do you listen to nowadays?
Felipe: I honestly have no idea how to answer the first part of this question. I like a bit of everything really. On my drive to work you might catch me listening to soul one day and heavy metal on another. One of my current favourites is a japanese duo called “Yorushika.”
Ian: Everything you might ever think we sound like is probably an influence. It’s just been composted over decades and evolved through a range of life’s few ups and many downs. I like songs with good lyrics more than any particular type of music. Right now, I only just discovered Wet Leg. I’m surprised I didn’t notice them earlier but I’m writing all the time and I don’t like listening to music when I’m writing - live music, yeah, but not a lot other than that.
Which are the music trademarks of The Noise Who Runs?
Felipe: We often have keyboards and synths making cool new sounds or beeps and boops. There’s usually no guitar solos.
Ian: "Under The Sun" has a guitar solo, but that wasn’t you and really it was a one-off and totally alien to the song, which is the only reason I allowed it. No guitar solos. No anything solos. Showboating bullshit. And though it’s not a musical trademark, a lot of the songs have ludicrously long titles. I do like that. The second single from "Preteretrospective", after "Beautiful Perhaps", is called ‘Takes a long cold look and then the kitchen sink’. Possibly commercial suicide but I think it’s a very cool title.
Which feelings of yours do you try to express through The Noise Who Runs?
Felipe: For me it’s the joy of playing music. I’m always busy at work so I like doing something that does not require too much thinking.
Ian: I think the music and the lyrics communicate for themselves. First and foremost, I’m a lyricist, have been for nearly 30 years now, and all the songs express so many different things all at once - they include a range of emotions, reactions and aspirations in reflection (or complaint or incredulity) about the wider world at large, sometimes through a very specific story or tale, but more often they represent a bigger picture zooming in, rather than personal subjective experience kind of presumptuously and arrogantly masquerading as the core beliefs, fears and anxieties of everyone else. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people only view the world through that lens - this is my situation, extrapolate that subjective view and insist that everything is the same for everyone else. It’s a dangerous arrogance not to look harder, more objectively, not to research, to ask questions, to never consider more than what exists within the confines of your own bubble.
Have you ever performed live in concert as The Noise Who Runs? Any tour plans?
Felipe: We never got to perform because when we were ready to do it, the whole covid thing started. We were ready to play as a 4-piece with Gérald on bass and Julien on drums/pads, plus Ian singing and myself on guitar/keys.
Ian: There are no firm plans to play live but now we’re thinking about translating the recordings and releases and the wealth of as yet unreleased material into a live set and the best way to do that, so rehearsals will be starting next month. For me, the pre-Covid approach was too heavy on the traditional band set-up. The plan is to use elements of a traditional set-up within a more interesting mix that allows us to play more like the recordings sound and evolve them and recreate them so it’s not just a karaoke version or tribute act. Hopefully, it’s gonna be a fascinating experiment where no one gig would ever be remotely the same. Such is ambition!
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you?
Felipe: We lost our momentum to play and make new music just as we were ready to start doing some serious stuff. I’ve also grown lazier than ever before. It was not all bad though, as for long stretches of time during 2020 and 2021 I did not need to go outside!
Ian: To be honest, my family was better off financially for the first three months of the first wave than we had been for the previous four months. I actually received 450 euros a month during that period, whereas my awful almost zero hours contract had seen me working, on average, five or six hours a week maximum from September 2019 to February 2020. After that first confinement ended, it was back to struggling like hell and I had to take two extra jobs and change my original job and even then it took until the end of 2021 to be in a more secure financial position.
As regards the band, I’ll take what happened as a good thing - we got a lot of recording done and I got a lot of writing done and right here and now I feel very confident about the next two years for TNWR. After "Preteretrospective" comes out in April, we have two new releases practically ready to mix and master. And we’ve just started to look at the album we were in the middle of making before the pandemic.
At closing, is there anything else you’d like to say?
First, thank you Dimitry for your interest in our music. Please come find us at https://thenoisewhoruns.bandcamp.com and support what we’re doing with a download or share. Thanks also to Shauna McLarnon at Shameless Promotion PR for making this interview (and our surprisingly successful campaign) even possible.