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NZMM: Favourite Wellington Music Moment – Luke Marlow/What Noisy Cats

For New Zealand Month last year we asked a bunch of people what they thought made Wellington music unique as well as what their favourite albums by Wellington artists were.

This year we thought we would do something similar, but slightly different. This time we’re asking people for a favourite memory of making music in Wellington. It could involve a favourite gig, a funny story from the recording studio, a moment that led to the inspiration for a song, the fond recollection of a defunct venue, or the piece of music or lyric that they are most proud of creating.

Today we caught up with Luke Marlow from What Noisy Cats. ‘What Noisy Cats’ are indie-country folk-rockers who infuse all their songs with a dose of rock and atmospherics to make them, well, just a little bit noisy. They have been around for about 5 years, releasing an EP in 2010, and have a just released their full-length album A Different Ocean at the end of 2015.

One of my favourite memories of playing music in Wellington comes from way back in 2002. My first band, ‘Electrolite’ were excited as hell to be playing our third gig ever in the Battle of the Bands semi-final at Valve bar on Vivian Street. Six weeks earlier we had made our debut performance in what we had thought was a searing performance, which obviously impressed the judges enough to progress us through to the semi-finals. This did little to stifle our already over-inflated egos – our naive early-twenties selves were planning to bring about a “rock-renaissance in Wellington” (that’s an actual quote our guitar player gave to the Wellingtonian at the time).

With another six weeks of rehearsing and a second gig under our belts, we were confident that we were going to absolutely smoke any other band that we came up against. We got there early to set up our gear and met the other bands who would be playing against. One we had already seen, and didn’t think were much of a threat, the other one we hadn’t seen before. They seemed a bunch of jazz-school types who we thought were sure to be technically better musicians than us, but would be no match for the might of the rock that we’d bring. The straws were drawn and the order of bands decided. I can’t remember if we played second or third, because honestly all I can remember from that night is the first song from that bunch of “jazz-school types”. In the space of a short few minutes, one monster guitar riff and the most charismatic frontman I’d ever witnessed in the flesh, our heads deflated back to their rightful sizes as I turned to my drummer and said “We’re screwed”.

That band was Odessa (who were about to become darlings of the Wellington live music scene for the next 7 years), and the song was Bring The Money Back, which ended up being the first single and opening track from their debut album, Oak Park Avenue. Surely enough, they went on to win the Battle of the Bands that year, and I’d say they probably earned their first die-hard fan that night. I’m not sure how many of their gigs I attended, but I’d guess that it’s well over 50, including (in a fitting way) opening the show at their video release gig for that same song.

You can buy some What Noisy Cats on their Bandcamp page here.

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Covers used with permission.

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