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NZMM: Favourite Wellington Music Moment – James Noble/The Doubtful Sounds

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 James Noble who is part of the Wellington/Auckland group The Doubtful Sounds, who are steeped in the guitar based jangle-pop of the classic Flying Nun bands.

Early in 2001, we had just returned from the best part of five years living in Glebe in inner-west central Sydney, to Darkest Karori in suburban Wellington. I was still suffering from culture shock, and Kath was pregnant with our daughter. I heard that the Bats were coming through Wellington, and somehow I convinced Kath and bump to go.

We turned up at the old Bodega on Willis street. We must have got there late because the place was completely packed, the band crammed into a small stage in the corner. An old friend was unexpectedly over from Silicon Valley – I didn’t know he was in the country, or even that he knew who the Bats were. One of his legs was in a full cast – how he coped with the crush I’ve no idea. The band were in great form, and Kaye Woodward was playing a cool white teardrop guitar I hadn’t seen her play before.

We’ve been to a lot of great gigs over the years: there’s something special about a room so full you can’t get to the bar for drinks, or to catch up with friends three rows back – SJD and Anthonie Tonnon last year at MOON come to mind. These days, MOON seems to have take over the spot the old Bodega had in Wellington’s musical psycho-geography. I never played at the old Bodega (or the new one for that matter) but MOON has been kind enough to have The Doubtful Sounds on a couple of times. One of the songs we usually play to start or end the set goes “Saturday Night/down at the pub in the Aro Valley/Saturday Night/everybody’s happy. The man at the bar’s got a great big grin, the place is loaded he’s packing them in” and the chorus repeats “Kaye’s got a new guitar” rather too many times. Many years later I stumbled onto The Bats’ website, and it turns out Kaye’s guitar wasn’t new at all: but I like the song anyway…

You can follow the band on Facebook here, and buy some of their music on Bandcamp here

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Images used with permission.

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