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Self labelled VIPs (Volume, Integrity, Pride) new Gloucestershire band, Noise Agents, are hard at work producing songs to blast any stagnating brain cells into spasms this coming year. Known simply as Agents 1, 2, 3 and 4, Agents 1 and 4 having recently demobbed from Gloucester punk band Demob, we meet at a secret location following weekly rehearsals.

Lorraine - Well Agents, what’s the direction of this band, another Demob?

Agent 1 - (Vocals): NO!

Agent 4 - (Drums): Absolutely not!

Agent 1 - Definitely not!

Agent 4 - Certain shades of it in there, but that’s just ‘cos down to Agent 1’s writing, but it’s not Demob.

Lorraine - Agents 1 (feet too big) and 4 (too mouthy), you have worked together as members of  the punk band of now uncertain trajectory, Demob, how did you meet agents 2 (hair too long) and 3 (too quiet) ?

Agent 4 - Agent 1 bought them around to me one day in a cardboard box (laughs).

Agent 1 - Originally I’ve known Agent 2 since 1978

Agent 2 (Bass) - We’ve known each other as faces on the scene going back to the original punk days basically, but there’s been a long gap in that hasn’t there? It’s not a continued relationship, we’ve just seen each other, we both knew each other by name, we used to go to the same gigs.

Agent 1 - Chatting....

Agent 2 - You got heckled by, I think, by Tony and Viv maybe, to try to get me into a band with you or something didn’t ya?

Agent 1 - That’s right, yeah, as I remember Tony and Viv.......

Agent 2 - exaggerating how good I was and all that crap.

Agent 1 - …always wanted to try link us up with Agent 2. In all honesty I always wanted to do something with him as I knew how good he was back in the day, although he may not say that. I’ve actually looked at his biog that we’re going to put on myspace and I’m quite pleased actually....and Agent 3, I’ve seen Agent 3 in town selling his wares, but I’ve seen him, met him, at gigs I think primarily. We’ve always talked, probably the last four or five years, about music and still this past year.

Agent 2 - Agent 3 and I have been in a band together before as well. Agent 3 and I, ’89, we got together in Jelly, then I fucked off abroad an’ that.

Agent 3 - (Guitar) we haven’t actually played for years have we?!

Agent 2 - No, we haven’t played together for a decade, twenty years even.

Agent 1 - I think, initially, you started a band up didn’t you, just recently, well last year?, and me and Agent 4 wanted to do something else anyway and unfortunately the other lads in Demob weren’t able to do it and then we just got chatting. I just got chatting to Agent3 I think it was, wasn’t it mate?

Agent 3 - Yeah, you have to take what you can get, there’s not a lot of choice out there is there! (laughs).

Agent 1 - And so they decided to take me and Agent 4 on and well, basically we were looking for a bassist and guitarist and they were looking for a drummer and a singer and, I think there was a bit of apprehension in all honesty, but when we got together I think we can all safely say we’re singing from the same hymn book.

Lorraine - What’s it like working with Agents 1 and 4 (directed at Agents 2 and 3)?

Agent 2 - Great! Very exciting! I think it’s ace. I’ve never felt this excited about being in a band and I’m being honest now. I think we’re on to something really good to be honest with you. I love the songs, they’re all very individual. We’re trying to develop a sound and I think we’re getting close to what we want. No two songs are the same, obviously that’s how it should be, but every one has it’s own unique quality as far as I can see and I love the sound at the moment. I love the way it comes together.

Lorraine - Having all been in bands before, you must all have your own routine and ways of doing things, how are the songs coming about, what part do each of you play?

Agent 4 - I think the interesting thing is that we’re all obviously taking influences from each other.

Agent 2 - We’ve changed your sound haven’t we?

It does sound different to Demob.

Agent 4 - Yeah, yeah and that’s good, it’s quite good because we all come from slightly different backgrounds as well, different influences, but without having known each other as well, it’s just coming straight out in the music... and there are times when we have to weld things together rather than flowing.

Agent 1 - I think the good thing about it, as has already been mentioned, is that we are all excited, we’ve got creative ideas.         

Agent 4 - I’ve got a permanent semi (laughs)

Agent 1 - Agent 4 has always got a permanent semi, but third eye blind you know.

Lorraine - So everybody has an equal input?

Agent 1 - I would say it’s an equal input in the sense that everybody’s thinking about what we’re doing you know. It doesn’t matter if some-one writes most of the lyrics or somebody writes most of the tunes, the fact is....

Agent 4 - it gets changed anyway.

Agent 1 - it does

Agent 4 - It’s like throwing it to the wolves.

Agent 1 - We’ve all had an input at the moment. Seven songs we’ve got and everybody’s had a bit of input which is good.

Lorraine - Well this is a whole new project far removed from Demob, is starting over from scratch proving daunting?

Agent 4 - No, it’s fun.

Agent 1 - It’s fun, it’s refreshing, it’s exciting.

Agent 2 - So far it’s been as natural as having a shit (laughs). Well we haven’t had any musical constipation yet have we?!

Agent 4 - No, that’s true. I haven’t had to put my hand under my stool.

Agent 1 - There’s lots of ideas and I get the vibe that everybody just wants to offer so much you know, that’s great. I mean, one of the things I’ve always had to work with is that one person usually writes all the lyrics and one person writes the music, this band, I think we’ve all contributed to the lyrics and music which is brilliant. I think the most satisfying thing for me is that I don’t have to worry about writing all the lyrics, which is great, or doing all the singing.

Agent 4 - That’s the other difference, everybody’s is singing.

Agent 1 - We all have a go.

Agent 4 - …and that’s important. They’re ‘shouty’ anthems really aren’t they? That’s what we’re trying for....a lot of it.

Lorraine - You made your debut recently at The Bridgehouse2, how do you feel it went?

Agent 2 - I was bricking it personally.  I think it went very well. People seemed to love it.

Agent 4 - There were a few technical warts.

Agent 1 - Most nervous I’ve ever been on stage!

Lorraine - Really? Why was that?

Agent 1 - Yeah, it was. Not because I was worrying about what everybody was gonna do, it was just a strange feeling, I think more because I wanted the songs to come over. Several people came up to me after and said “Great stuff” like and that’s what makes it all worthwhile, when people come along to us, mates or not mates.

Agent 2 - Yeah, we got good feedback didn’t we!

Agent4 - Well we must have been doing something right as we’ve got reasonably prestigious status in Demob . Also, from what we did that night, people wouldn’t have booked us if we were no good.

Lorraine - For me, as a member of the audience, I found it refreshing to hear a drummer speaking up and making jokes. It somehow presented the band as a close knit equal unit.

Agent 4 - I can’t help being gobby onstage, I just love it. I just love being onstage so much. I’m a bit of a frustrated front man as well.

Agent 2 - Put a microphone in front of him.......

Agent 4 - I am gobby onstage but I don’t care. I love it!

Agent 1 - I think we’re really fortunate with Agent 4. I think the other band we were in, they didn’t realise just how fortunate,  because  Agent 4, he’s our conductor, he brings us in and he takes us out, vocally as well. Even when we’re rehearsing he just shouts it and you know it. Everything being new it’s good to have that. I find it satisfying and comforting.

Lorraine - Do you feel ready for more gigs as, as well as it went, you only had three songs at the BH2?

Agent 4 - Oh we’ve got more than that!

Agent 1 - We’ve got seven songs now. We’ve now had eight rehearsals. I would say that by the end of the month those songs will be ready, even if we have to ad lib a bit, those songs will be ready to go.

Lorraine - So you’re pretty confident?

Agent 1 - Oh, confident that we’ll get there, we’ll turn up, we’ll play, we’ll have a good time, yeah.

Agent 4 - And we’re recording.

Agent 1 - Oh, we’re recording as well, that’s coming up.

Agent 2 - 14th February, Valentines day.

Lorraine - I know that you agonised for months over a name for the band, how did you finally settle on Noise Agents and how do you feel about the already tongue in cheek nickname ‘The Newsagents’?

Agent 1 - Agent 2, can you tell her what we deliver please.

Agent 2 - We deliver volume, we don’t deliver papers and stationary.

Agent 4:  We’re not stationary, we deliver volume!

Agent 1 - I like that, that’s another one for a T-shirt.

Agent 4 - We’d gone through every single process of trying to decide on a name.

Agent 2 - We came up with a very long list, 50+ titles then whittled it down again to half a dozen maybe...

Agent 4 - ....and then it could have gone to the point where we were all going to have a big fight because nobody could agree and so one day, we just.. “let’s just go with this one”.

Agent 2 - We just had to get moving really.

Agent 4 - But it’s turned out to be a very interesting name because, there’s an awful lot of different things flying off it. The pisstake side of it is just as good as the original name. It doesn’t bother us in the slightest. In fact, if our fans wanna call themselves the paper boys.. (laughs) ...or paper people!

Lorraine - For those who know you through your past band history and material, not just Demob or Jelly but Agent 2 having also played in Black Flag, how would you describe the sound of this new project, what’s different?

Agent 4 - Shouty anthems!

Agent 1 - Shouty anthems, good sing-along songs.

Agent 4 - That’s what we seem to be doing.

Agent 2 - You’ll go home with the tunes in your head, you won’t forget then, I guarantee.

Agent 4 - We want people right up the front singing along with us, having a good time.

Agent 1 - Also it’s not just one style of, dare I say punk. I feel that what we’re doing, the punks, the skins, the hardcore boys, the anarchics, everybody’ll like a bit of something in there. It’s mixed up. We’re not aiming at any particular group in the scene, it’s  just punk rock!

Agent 2 - We’re doing what we enjoy as well ya know. Well. It’s all a learning curve really.

Agent 4 - Cast your seed wide.

Agent 2 - ...for me anyway!

Agent 1 - Can I just say it is, we are, the Noise Agents, we’re not fucking Noise Agents plus so and so from another band you know. That’s it, we’re all equal in this band,  nobody’s got any sway over anybody else.

Lorraine - Agent 1, I hear you are also involved with Manchester band Churchill and have recently recorded with them, what’s the story there?

Agent 1 - I’ve known the lads for several years, basically they’ve written an album worth of songs, going back a couple of years, and the lads asked me if I’d be interested in doing some vocals for a compilation, so we arranged a date and eventually got together and recorded four songs, the rest to be done in April. The original idea was to record one song but things panned out really well. I have to say I am well impressed with the material, so much so that I’ve agreed to record the whole album with them!

Lorraine - What is actually happening with Demob?

Agent 1 - One gig, one gig left. If we were offered to do something, if it was made worth our while we may do the odd gig.... I’ve personally talked about going here, there and everywhere but, me personally, I would never play Demob again in the UK.

Lorraine - But with the way things seem to be going with this band.....

Agent 4 - If those chances came up, I would rather that they applied to this band..

Agent 1 - I’ve spoken to Marcus personally about it ‘cos, obviously us being in Demob, but at the end of the day it’s just gonna be Noise Agents. There’s so much excitement you know, we got no baggage in this band, nobody, we can all say what we want, we’re confident, we can talk to one another without anybody looking down their nose. Nobody’s gonna moan or groan. That’s the way it should be you know, we’re four mates.

Agent 2 - We’re easy going aren’t we?!

Agent 1 - Yeah!

Agent 2 - I can’t see that changing.

Agent 4 - Three mates and one megalomaniac (laughs).

Agent 1 - Yeah, we’re singing about ....we are the Noise Agents.

Agent 2:  That would be pigeon holing us.

Agent 1 - The crowd will decide what you are........

Agent 4 - That’s not up to us. My philosophy is, we get the songs together, when we’re happy with what we sound like to us they’re no longer our property, you throw them out to the crowd and then you get judged on them.

Agent 2 - We may get labelled later but we’re not going to label ourselves.

Lorraine - Well what would you say you have to offer as a new band, how would you encourage people to come along and see you?

Agent 4 - You’re going to find a little bit of what you like within the broad spectrum of the punk scene within this band.

Agent 2 - Guaranteed!

Agent 4 - Absolutely guaranteed! Whether you’re into Oi or not, as there are shades of Oi in there, there’s also shades of punk, there’s shades of hardcore, there’s shades of..

Agent 2 - Rock n roll...

Agent 4 - There’s even rock n roll and the blues in there. There’s a little bit of everything. Also, I dread to think what the amount of years of combined years of musical experience is in this band. It’s a new band, but we’re not new people by any means!

Agent 1 - Absolutely!

Agent 4 - We’re a bunch of old farts but got young blood transfusions or something (laughs).

Agent 2 - We’ve got the attitude of some-one fresh!

Agent 4 - We’ve got fuck all to lose!

Agent 1 - For me personally, for the whole band, I take sort of refuge in the likes of Mike McColgan from Street Dogs, used to be lead man of the Dropkick Murpheys and the Murpheys are massive you know, but he’s gone and he’s started up another band and now Street Dogs are one of the main headlining punk bands in America on the scene now.

Agent 4 - One of the best things about this scene is that it seems age irrelevant you know. There are fantastic young bands like Outlaw, who are absolutely brilliant.

Agent 1 - Middle Finger Salute, Guns On The Roof...

Agent 4 - Exactly, and at the other end of the scale there are still old codgers and everybody is accepted and it’s really, really nice. That’s probably the best thing I’ve found about the punk scene having played in other scenes as well, there’s no pretensions at all.

Lorraine:  As already mentioned you appear to have a great rapport. Looking at many successful bands on the scene how important do you think that chemistry within individuals is in contributing to success?

Agent 2 - Stress affects performance I’d say.

Agent 4 - And creativity!

Agent 1 - If you look at the bands like Cock Sparrer and Argy Bargy, Drongos for Europe and another band who are really doing it for me at the moment, Dun2Def, everybody has had their problems but they’ve all come through and they’re mates.

Agent 4 - Dun2Def are just fantastic now.

Agent 2 - Yeah, I liked them, I thought they were fabulous.

Agent 1 - There are other bands, young bands like Middle Finger Salute, Guns of the Roof and Outlaw, and there are others and if I ain’t mentioned you hard luck, I will.......we sing the praises of these bands as they’re like the lifeblood of what’s going on at the moment, so I take comfort in that, that we are four mates, yeah we are musicians in our own right, but we are four mates, we can have a laugh, we can laugh at each other as well as ourselves, that’s why it works so well.

Agent 4 - I started playing in bands when I was 14 and I’ve been in and out of all different types of bands and there are all different types of groups of people and it’s like a family relationship every single time, and quite a lot of them are dysfunctional families. They all fall apart after a year because somebody is fighting. But quite often I find that you can almost immediately tell whether you can work with somebody and how far you can take the boundary with that person straight away, and like Agent 1 said, we all seem to be pretty much on the same level, we all seem to be coming from the same place. I think it’s because we’re all roughly the same age and everything and therefore grew up with the same influences. I mean, when I met these two it was just like “Yeah, I know I can have a laugh with them”. I know where the boundaries are and stuff like that. I know I can be gobby as no-one will take offence. It’s all bollocks, it’s all about playing the music, but underneath that it’s about having fun. It’s the only reason I’m still behind a kit, I love it. Never give up!

Check out Noise Agents and their up and coming dates and go judge for yourselves.

Photo's by Claire Wathen Photography

Interview by Lorraine 02.02.09