Interview: Jim Noir

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Jim Noir is a singer song writer from Davyhulme, Manchester and currently signed to My Dad/Atlantic records. Jim has released five albums since 2004 with the latest, Finnish Line, released in November which has taken a very different, more minimalist angle from his older recordings.

How did you get the band together?
Well it’s a kind of mixture of three old bands. Two of them [band members] were in the first band when I did the first album, Budgie [drummer] has been in several incarnations and then I needed another player. I’ve always wanted Steve Mullen from the Travelling Band, a big hairy monster, so I got him to come in.

How did you decide on your style of music?
It was a very long time ago, initially I did it as a side project because I was miking a lot of electronic music, that was what I was into growing up and learning how to do stuff. At college I did sound engineering so there was a lot of technical electronic stuff there. I basically just did electronic music for a little net label which anyone could do whatever they wanted on and then just for a laugh I did this weird Beach Boys style EP and it just seemed to go down quite well. I was trying to annoy everyone really, I was trying to sort of piss them off really because they were all being quite boring with the slightly downbeat electro stuff, I was trying to brighten everyone’s lives up. I thought I’d sent the EP off to Twisted Note records in Manchester and they liked it and it all went mental, I had to carry on doing it.

Where did the name Jim Noir come from?
It was my original pseudonym for this electronic music and it’s basically Vic Reeves, the comedian, his real name is Jim Moir and so thought it would be funny if I stole his real name and flipped one letter and made it a showbiz sounding name. I didn’t really expect to still be being called it anyway.

I thought it had a Mighty Boosh connection as the main character is called Vince Noir?
That was probably about the same time that that came out. I remember meeting him [Noel Fielding] once and arguing with him about who came up with it first, it was definitely definitely me!

What and who inspires you to write music?
Nothing really inspires me to do it, I just have done it most of my life really so it’s kind of a compulsion. Recently it has been more impulsive, I don’t really write as much as I used to but when I do sit down I’ll kind of rattle something off pretty quickly and hope for the best. It’s a mystery. The longer it goes on, the harder I find it to do different things. I mean I’m never really trying to be that different anyway. I think nowadays now i’ve so much equipment, I spend more time plugging it in than I do recording.

How would you describe your sound?
Well this time round it’s very much kind of late 60’s, it’s quite obviously quite Beatles inspired at the minute. I guess I am just doing my mature song writing. I was trying to write full length songs rather than just putting them together like I used to do, so I made sure I did everything in full takes this time but it’s all still improvised really, I don’t really know what I am doing until it’s mostly there. I never actually written a full song, which people find strange, but it’s true.

What advice would you give to anyone just starting off in music?
Certainly as much practice as you can do, I mean when I was growing up I wouldn’t stop either doing recording or playing or practising. I suppose just play along to your favourite records until you get really good. Don’t be afraid to be inspired by other band’s sounds, especially the older ones. I wouldn’t worry too much about finding your own sound until you find it.

What is your experience with going on tour?
I’ve not done it for a long time so it’s going to be fresh again. It’s good fun, it get me up earlier in the morning than usual so that’s a bonus. I just expect to eat a lot of hummus and cheap wine and cheap beer that the venues delightfully provide for you. I usually find supporting bands is better than doing your own tour because obviously if you support slightly bigger bands, they’ve got nice stuff so you can always go and rob it!

Do you have any tour tips?
I tell you this time, as my bladder is so weak now, I’m considering getting and SheWee and a bucket for the back of the van so we don’t have to stop every ten minutes. Just be nice to everyone, even if you don’t like the other bands, there’s no point making enemies. It’s always nice to be nice and you’ll get that back.

Which of your albums is your favourite one and why?
I’d say this new one is because it’s something that I can put on and listen to without moaning about the fact that I wish I had done something different. I think my earlier ones sounded a bit unfinished, this one does as well but it’s purposefully slightly minimal. I’m at the age now where thats the kind of music I like.

If you could meet anybody, who would it be?
I’ve recently wanted to meet Chevy Chase, I don’t know why, I just do, I watched the National Lampoons films and decided it would be nice to meet him. He’s a musician as well. Obviously Paul McCartney would be good. Me when I was twenty [laughs] so I could slap myself!

If you could be a box of cereal, what would you be and why?
I’ve recently been buying those mini-box multipacks just going mental mixing them up, call me crazy but that’s what I do. I think something like that, a bit experimental, just mix them up and see what happens.

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