You can count yourself as being completely unAustralian if you’re not familiar with the acting career of Noah Taylor. His heartbreaking portrayal of a young David Helfgott in Shine, and hapless and hilarious turn as the not-terribly-excellent Stillwater manager in Almost Famous are two roles that spring to our musically-bent minds. You may well be forgiven if his musical prowess flew under your radar though.
Well, pony up, ’cause Taylor’s been in bands for decades and after all the tooling around has founded a new one, this time with pals Ed Clayton- Jones (The Wreckery) and Cec Condon (The Mess Hall). Just like that an album Live Free Or Die!!! has been recorded and according to Noah’s mate and old Brighton neighbour Nick Cave it’s “a flat-out, freaked-out masterpiece.”
Currently on a plane to Australia to present an ARIA award, before bringing The Sloppy Boys to Homebake festival (and doing a couple of headline shows of their own) Noah was good enough to chat to Tone Deaf about his current creative foray.
Noah, tell me, how did the name The Sloppy Boys come about?
Well, it’s a bit of a nod to The Sunny Boys. It’s vaguely offensive and, er, we had to come with a name quickly.
Tell me about the song writing process, where did this fairly dark brooding material come from and did it come about quickly?
It was more a case of having to write quickly, deadlines are good for the creative process, and, well, there’s always depressing stuff to write about in any life ain’t there? Mostly they are plays on existing song structures: The Falling In Love Song, The You Don’t Love Me Song, The It’s Over Song, The I Want To Hop In Your Pants Song. All classic, classy themes.
You have enlisted Cec on drums and I assume Edward on guitars: how did you hooked up with these boys ? Have they worked with you in the past?
The recording was done, Ed on bass, me on guitar – Ed recorded the snazzy guitar stuff as an overdub. Ed and I had played in a few bands in the 90s, most notably Flipper and Humphrey, and less notably and more drunkenly, The Punchdrunks. Both bands also featured excellent Sydney crooner Ripley Hood. [Mate and fellow artist] Loene Carmen very kindly put me in touch with Cec after the original drummer dropped out. The interplay between Cec and Ed on bass is the backbone of the recording, they gelled brilliantly. Top dudes; gents.
Will this be a one off or do you have an idea to record more under this moniker?
Why the hell not?
Fuck You is a beautiful and endearing love song. Who did you write this song about and how loud will it be played live?
Is it? In a way it is a love song. It’s also a longing song. Same thing I guess. All my songs are fictional and resemblance to living persons is entirely coincidental. How loud? FUCKING LOUD!!!
What was it like working with your god daughter Holiday and what do you think about Bridezilla?
I saw Bridezilla do their first or second show ever at a young bands comp. I was speechless. I’ve never seen any band develop so quickly, the musicianship was extraordinary, and Holiday has one of the most haunting, unique , singing voices I’ve ever heard. Holiday and her Mum Loene are basically family and have both been profound influences on me in all ways. Working with little Miss Sidewinder was a joy.
You got great rave from Nick Cave about your record (and for years you have been called his doppelganger). How did your relationship with Nick develop and how has music worked within it?
Hmm…well, I’ve been bumping into Nick one way or another since my teens, but we became friends whilst living in Brighton UK , he was my neighbour pretty much. There’s a lot been said about Nick the great songwriter, dark prince, etc, but do you ever read what a nice, funny, decent fellow he is? Well, he is. Nick has been incredibly generous with advice and encouragement over the years. Damned snappy dresser too.
Besides acting, writing songs, and painting, what else do you find fascinating in the world these days and what sparks your soul into action?
Do you have a sense that acting will continue to play a lead in your life as you delve more into music….or will you continue to create in many formats?
Probably. I’m a bit of a slut creatively.
What do you consider your best and worst acting experiences and what parallels can you draw between your acting and musicianship?
Music is way more fun and satisfying, though involves a lot more heavy lifting. Both work best when there is a natural and unspoken rapport with your band/cast mates.
If you had one song to cover at Homebake, and it had to be by an Australian artist (of course), what would it be and why?
I do [The Loved Ones] ” Sad Dark Eyes” with my UK band The Rhinestoned Immaculates and it’s always a joy to play. “Are you Old Enough? ” by Dragon is tempting too.
– Paul Busch & Melanie Lewis
Noah Taylor & The Sloppy Boys touring Australia during December in various venues including an appearance at Homebake Festival in Sydney, support slots for Grinderman as well as their own headline gigs:
Tuesday 6 December @ Notes (Enmore), Sydney
Wednesday 7 December @ Phoenix Bar, Melbourne
Debut CD Live Free Or Die!!!, was released on 19th November on Z-Man Records.