John Doran’s Top Ten Noise Rock Bands – Part One

This blog has been written to upset you. It hasn’t been constructed using any kind of scientific formula. It has not been dreamt up with fairness, inclusivity or regional balance in mind. It certainly doesn’t take into account proficiency, recording techniques or the likelihood that any of these bands are likely to put on a sober or even vaguely professional show. If you are in a UK noise rock band and feel you should have been included, don’t waste your time sending me MP3s or CDs and asking me for reviews or any of that sensible shit, just cut straight to comparing me to a) Justin Lee Collins, b) the lead singer from The Magic Numbers, c) a currently in vogue child killer, d) some weird combination of all three, and don’t forget to leave some kind of poorly spelled death threat in the comment function which has handily been provided directly under this article.

John Doran
The author demonstrating how to enjoy noise rock; with strong lager, poppers, a doom claw and a heart full of madness.

Noise rock probably means something different to you than me depending on who you are and what your background is. For example readers of WIRE probably have a different view of what noise rock means to the readers of Kerrang! For me it simply mean a) music that is noisy and b) music that rocks. In addition to this, to me, it tends to mean not something from a standard blues rock tradition, anything that is simply indie music played loud or anything that’s recognisably heavy metal. It usually includes a certain amount of atonality and white noise but never strays that far from the four/four dynamic of rock and roll. Which simply means it goes well with four cans of Special Brew and enough poppers to temporarily stun a wildebeest. In my experience UK noise rock groups tend to have a clearly defined position on the film Predator 2 (more of which later) and also take a lot of drugs and/or tacitly expect their fans to do so while enjoying their music. They’ve also usually got some kind of primitive spiritual belief system that involves the album ‘Dopethrone’ by Electric Wizard taking on some kind of talismanic status.

Noise rock in the UK, for me, started in the mid 80s after the atomization of post punk. These post post punks were influenced by the atonal chord structures of Killing Joke, the repetitive riffs of The Fall, the heaviness of Black Sabbath and the white noise of The Velvet Underground and were radicalized by the disharmonious breakthrough of the Jesus and Mary Chain into the mainstream. In this country we had My Bloody Valentine, Loop, Godflesh and World Domination Enterprises etc, while in the States there was a similar ugly revolution going on with Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Big Black and Dinosaur Junior.

Dinosaur Jr

Later in the 1990s and onwards this tradition would be carried on by Jesus Lizard, NOMEANSNO, Shellac, McCluskey, Todd, $hit & $hine, The Icarus Line, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Oneida, Part Chimp, Shellac and many other often poorly dressed, often drunk luminaries of this ill-defined scene.

Of course, variously, these bands have been called post hardcore, industrial, metal, stoner rock, psych and even pigfuck but y’know, if you want to go and work in a fucking library Mr Genre Fascist, just go and do it. The rest of us just want to be left alone in peace to listen to ‘Locust Abortion Technician’ by the Butthole Surfers while drinking White Lightning cider and constructing a bong out of a gas mask, a pineapple and a bucket of weapons grade anal relaxant.

If you’re new to noise rock, then welcome. Here is a brief list of things that will enhance your enjoyment of this genre.

1. Black jeans. Preferably with Castrol GTX stains
2. ‘Dopethrone’ by Electric Wizard
3. A DVD copy of Predator 2
4. Poppers
5. Massive boots
6. A ‘Dopethrone’ T-shirt (it features a picture of the Devil smoking a gnarly looking life pipe)
7. A bong made out of a gasmask, a pineapple and a bucket of anal relaxant

And now for the first two entries in my Top Ten UK Noise Rock Bands, a list made purely on the strength of which bands I own records by and go and see live a lot. Follow the NME Noise blog all week for interviews and free MP3s from them all.

1. Part Chimp
This South London band formed out of the ruins of Scarfo and Ligament in 2000 and currently trade as a three piece. They are famous for their punishingly loud gigs and have had numerous releases out, the best being 2009’s Rock Action album ‘Thriller’; which they claim, killed Michael Jackson. Put simply they are the best band you’ve never heard. And there is no such thing as people who don’t like Part Chimp; just people who haven’t drunk enough strong lager yet.

Please explain what kind of music you play and what your live shows are like?
Iain Hinchcliffe (guitars): “We play Rog, a genre that we came up with. Live shows are loud and Roggy. Also, sweaty.”

What are the best conditions to listen to your new single You Decide (Gringo) under?
“Acquired deafness. Hearing Impairment. Deafness. Partial deafness. Hard of hearing. These are the conditions.”

We thought you were splitting up – what made you stick around?
“We are calling it a day sometime soonish, though we haven’t confirmed or denied these rumours publicly. Our last live shows will likely be in Spring 2011.”

Part Chimp
Compared to earlier releases the artwork on your new release (above) is almost good, have you pulled your aesthetic socks up?
Download Part Chimp’s ‘Sweet Tea’ here

2. Hey Colossus
Combining cyborg-like Krautrock rhythms, the clangorous bass of Killdozer and the howling white noise of Wolf Eyes, this rock group have recently released their fifth (and best) album to date on the fantastic Riot Season label, ‘Hey Colossus And The Van Halen Time Capsule Present Eurogrumble Volume One’. And while it may have a picture of bare chested porn stars dressed like sci fi vikings on the front cover and feature song titles like ‘Shithouse’, this doesn’t detract from some seriously intelligent music contained within.


Please explain what kind of music you play and what your live shows are like?
Joe Thompson [guitars]: “Our music is of a relentless nature, which in a live setting pleases some characters and dismays others. I think in terms of what it sounds like it comes best from Julian Cope who said, ‘It often sounds like three bands at once.’ He’s the kind of chancer you can believe in, right?”

What are the best conditions to listen to your last album, ‘Eurogrumble Volume 1’ under?
“It must be listened to on vinyl; it’s two sides of music. There is a natural pause halfway to allow the listener to refill the booze cup, the crack pipe or the tea pot. The art of the album as a 40 minute long piece of music needs to be retained. There’s room for MP3s and all that crud in the world but for this album it’s a vinyl affair. Also – play it in the dark and play it during winter.”

What are your plans for 2011?
“We have five dates in January (three in the UK and a couple abroad) with Ultraphallus who are a new addition to the mighty Riot Season roster. We have new material recorded that is being locked and loaded. We are bedding in some new members to bolster our numbers. Aside from this it’s the continual manipulation between family/work/rock. We are jugglers, one and all. We’re optimistic that it’ll all pan out in the end.”

Are you a psychedelic group and what do you take psychedelic to mean?
“Some people say that word without really knowing what it means, it’s too easy to use it. As soon as some people put a wah wah pedal over something they think it’s psychedelic. Which, of course, isn’t the case. Inspiration comes from all sorts of losers; 60s psych groups had the best artwork and the best drugs. They let loose in a way most bands of that era weren’t doing. Maybe in the letting loose department we’re inspired by them in the same way certain German bands of the 70s inspire us or bands from Seattle in the late 80s inspire or certain bands from Birmingham and Japan and Finland inspire us. But to say we’re psychedelic would probably insult many an aficionado.”

Download Hey Colossus’ ‘Pop Long Haul IIIrd’ here