b l a ke n o b l e
It’s difficult to describe, but essentially I see my 12-string guitar as a set of strings surrounded by a hollow box of wood, all of which are potential drums. I was originally a drummer [and] my Mum is a piano teacher, so I approached the guitar as a guitar/piano/drum kit hybrid. I saw what people like Tommy Emmanuel were doing, in terms of percussive playing, and I thought I might be able to teach myself how to do it. I was also influenced by Erik Mongrain to adapt a style called lap tapping, which is when you lay the guitar flat in your lap and play it more like a piano while hitting harmonics in between notes. These styles are becoming increasingly popular thanks to artists like Kaki King and movies like August Rush. I still think I could have played the role of the eightyear-old homeless guitarist in that movie!
Shining in the Sun When BLAKE NOBLE views his 12-string guitar, he sees not only the steel strings but the whole percussive potential of the hollow body. KEVIN BULL spoke to Noble about his unique playing style, his upcoming appearance at Festival of the Sun, and his plans to relocate to the US. Having won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Bluesfest busking competition, you found yourself performing at Bluesfest itself. Can you tell me about your Bluesfest experience? I was lucky enough to grab the People’s Choice Award, but unfortunately I did not find myself performing at Bluesfest on account of the rain. It was pretty
heartbreaking to earn a spot at Australia’s best festival with the biggest names in the industry only to have it taken away at the last moment on the last day of the festival due to heavy, heavy rain. Your playing of the guitar is quite unique. For the uninitiated, how would you describe it and how did this develop?
You have recently put together a threepiece band, Blake Noble and the Ninja Stars. Was it difficult to find musicians that complimented your guitar style? Yes. Luckily I had local six-string guitarist Luke Horsfield to rely on. We have similar styles and work well together writing tunes. We had booked four gigs through November, and ended up finding our drummer Alex Reid about three-and-a-half weeks before the first gig! We wrote close to 20 songs in just over three weeks, and when we hit the stage it was like we had played together all year. There is talk that you are relocating to the US. Is this still on the cards, and what are you looking for overseas? Love and music. That is all I am ever looking for. Now I just need my visa! I have been working as a full time musician for
just over two years now. It’s a hard road, that’s for sure, but it is harder when you are a solo instrumentalist in country Australia. The US is obviously a much bigger market, with more opportunities, and many more options for solo instrumental guitarists. You are now sponsored by Bigfoot Stompbox and Elixir Strings. Is there anything better than free shit? I doubt it! It is a magical feeling to have such a well respected international company recognise and support what you are doing. I have always used Elixir strings on my guitars, so to have them send me free strings to slap around is a dream come true. I am also extremely excited about my partnership with Bigfoot. Their stomp boxes are made locally in the northern rivers, which is perfect as they are the best out there. I have used them for years, and will be taking my collection over to the US to show them off. Debut solo album, Music For The End Of The World, was released in March 2011. For you, what are the signs of a successful release? I wanted to just put my hat in the ring and get my name out there. A successful release to me is simply to achieve a recording and put it out into the world. It is a lot of work it’s daunting, and very expensive to do so. I have had good sales online with iTunes, good hits on YouTube, and great sales at my live shows. People seem more willing to support my music when they have seen me live. Blake Noble performs at the Brewery, Byron Bay, on Tuesday December 6, and Festival of the Sun, Port Macquarie, on December 9–10.
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magazine issue #065 — Dec 2011–Jan 2012
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