2013 was a good year for Chris Selman and Simon Williams, AKA Words & Noises. Working with esteemed producer Fred Kindt (Elbow, Cherry Ghost) in the renowned Blueprint Studios, the duo released their debut EP Beating Heart to critical acclaim.
Musicmuso met up with the guys in a pub next to the Granada Studios for a quick jar and a chat about hangover music, the Gallagher brothers and Slash from Guns n' Roses, here's how it went....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
Honest pop music with clever lyrics.
You’re called Words and Noises, how did you go about choosing this name?
It pretty much summarises what we do – I sing lyrics and we make noise. That’s basically all pop music is.
‘Animals’ please explain the video you made for this?
The video was meant to be a fun play on the concept of a nature documentary. It loosely follows the subject of the lyrics which focus on the animalistic traits we have as humans. I think it’s turned out nicely, there are some beautiful scenes.
What’s your favourite Saturday Night and Sunday Morning album?
Saturday night would have to be the Strokes’ first album, it’s great. Really rhythmic, so much energy, catchy melodies, tons of attitude and some genius lyrics. Sunday morning would be August and Everything After by Counting Crows. It’s full of melancholy and reflection, with some really beautiful songs.
What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
I’ve had loads of advice from Tom Robinson, who’s the “Introducing” DJ on BBC 6Music. His advice basically boiled down to “write better songs”. He’s heard loads of my stuff over the years and it was him that encouraged me to keep working on particular songs, keep tweaking, refining, making sure they’re as brilliant as can be – not just being content that they sounded “good”.
What does music mean to you?
Pretty much everything. It’s what I’ve always been best at – I love writing, recording, performing. I love listening to cherished classic albums and discovering amazing new bands. It keeps me entertained to while I’m on the go, I relax to it, it soundtracks everything I watch. Completely indispensible.
Which music are you currently grooving to?
Quite a mix. I’ve not picked up much new music in the last couple of months but there have been some brilliant albums out in the last year or so. Arcade Fire’s album was great, as was Vampire Weekend’s. I picked up the Haim album a few months back and it’s ace.
Your tracks played on BBC Radio Manchester and Amazing Radio, what does that feel like to have your creations played out like that?
It’s pretty crazy. I do find it quite magical when something I’ve written is played on the radio, even if it’s a show with perhaps a few thousand listeners. The idea that loads of people I’ve never met are enjoying something I’ve created is awesome.
Which band made you want to get a band together?
I grew up, like many kids of the 1990s, listening to Oasis; they had a strong work ethos and DIY attitude. They were great poster boys for showing that music could be for anyone, it wasn’t some elitist thing. A little later on I guess The Libertines made me feel the same way about wanting to do the whole ‘band’ thing.
‘The Lost art of Conversation’ from your ‘Loaded Gun’ EP, has been played on BBC Radio 6 Music, also a video has been made, can you describe what the track is about and who directed the video?
The song details how technology hasn’t really improved our communication skills – although we’re all now connected all the time, we’re probably more interested in checking social media or looking for cat memes or gifs as opposed to speaking to one another. I’m as guilty as the next person of using my phone during social situations but it frustrates me how it’s become acceptable. The video was devised and directed by a Manchester-based film company called Into Productions – they’ve made all our videos and I’m pleased with each one of them.
Tell me a fascinating fact about you or one of your band members?
Simon’s probably led a much more exciting life than I have. He’s worked in the media for a long time and has met pretty much every member of rock royalty going, as well as attending all the glitzy shindigs such as the NME and Q awards. He once interviewed Slash for Kerrang! That’s pretty awesome.
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it? (only living members please)
Ryan Adams, Adam Duritz (Counting Crows), Sufjan Stevens. REM could reform and be the backing band. With all of Haim on backing vocals. That would be pretty epic I think.
Do you own a record that you wouldn’t like to admit you have?
Oh plenty. I had the most appalling taste when I was a child. I have no idea if I still own it, but fairly sure I had a copy of Aqua’s album – on cassette. I still have a few guilty pleasures though these days I’ll tend to stream something on YouTube to avoid the embarrassment of parting with money in exchange for something awful.
Who designed the artwork for your debut EP ‘Beating Heart’?
A guy called Luke Thornhill, who I actually met through Twitter. He was looking to do some artwork to boost his CV and I was looking to get some artwork done as cheaply as possible, so it worked out well.
Is there something you would like to tell each of the band members that you haven’t told them before?
Well there’s only Simon and he knows pretty much everything about me, we’ve been working together for about four years now! Maybe he didn’t know about the Aqua album…
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
Oh, there are too many to mention. There are a LOT of Beatles songs I’ve have loved to have written – I’m Only Sleeping, Across the Universe, For No-One… but there are so many amazing songs. It would have been incredible to write a true epic, something like Bohemian Rhapsody. Maybe one day…
First gig you ever went to?
Bon Jovi at the old Wembley Stadium. It was the last gig before they closed it and knocked it down to build the current one. I was 14 and went with my brother… I’m not afraid to admit to still having a soft spot for Bon Jovi. When I was younger I thought they were a very credible, authentic rock band… whereas in reality they just make big cheesy commercial pop/rock crossovers. But they’re ace.
Where did you record your debut EP ‘Beating Heart’ & where will you record the follow up? Also what made you choose that studio?
We’ve already recorded the follow up, ‘Loaded Gun’, which is out August 10th. Both were recorded at Manchester’s Blueprint studio. We chose it as we’ve used it before, it’s a brilliant space, we know the guys there and they understand our sound. It’s also got a very impressive clientele, it’s Elbow’s main studio and has been used by everyone from Arctic Monkeys to Jay-Z.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
Oh that’s very tough. John Lennon, probably. I’m sure he’d have a lot of interesting things to say. Noel Gallagher seems like a funny guy and he’s been a big inspiration. And probably Elvis. Yeah, plenty of interesting conversations could be had with those guys I think.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
I’m a big fan of Hunter & the Bear right now, saw them supporting Eric Clapton a couple of months back and they were ace. A bit like Mumford & Sons but with more of a country twang. They have loads of energy and great melodies and harmonies. I don’t think they have an album yet but they have an EP and some singles worth checking. Also a Manchester band called Rook and the Ravens, I went to uni with a couple of the guys and they’re doing some great things, just got back from a big tour of America. I’d also recommend Then Thickens, they make alternative, authentic pop music, it’s really well produced and they’re getting a lot of airplay right now.
Who would you like to know has your music on their iPod, MP3 or cassette walkman?
Not that I totally idolise the man, but Ryan Adams. I’d like to know what inspires him, his lyrics and melodies are great.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
I’m trying desperately to think of something clever and authentic here, but all I can come up with are cheesy films. Let’s say Shrek because we’re honest and hard working. Also our music has layers…
What are your plans for the remainder 2014?
Plenty of gigs and radio shows, lots more writing and maybe a new single before the year’s out. We’re going to be very busy so keep your ears to the floor…
The barman had disappeared for a quick fag break, who should wander in and proceed to pour us more pints, only Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch from Corrie), whilst we supped our pints of Newton & Ridley, we unleashed a few quick fire questions to the guys....
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee! At least three a day.
Coke or Pepsi?
Coke. Real deal.
Drum machine or the real deal?
Real deal. As above.
Mac or PC?
Stone Roses or Oasis?
Oasis… rock n rollllll
Fry up or Sunday roast?
Sunday roast. On any day.
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
Neither, if I’m honest. Ozzy’s a bit more amusing.
CD or Vinyl?
CD, I’m just not that cool.
Words or Noises?
Both. But words at a push…
Car or Motorbike?
Car. Again. Not cool enough.
Acoustic or electric?
Acoustic. Again. Not cool…
Shower or Bath?
Shower. Economical and I’m usually running late for everything anyway. Baths take too long.
Tattoos or Piercings?
Neither. Desperately uncool.
Robert de Niro or Al Pacino?
God or Google?
Google has all the answers…
We'd like to thank the guys for taking part in our Introducing feature and wish them every success in the future. We look forward to posting more newsworthy items as and when they come our way....
Interview by Mark Wincott