After the jump, the fine folks from Noiz Assembly share the history of their group and other insights, as well as a generous helping of nonsense.
Smile Politely: How did the Noiz Assembly get started? How long have you been together, and were you associated with WEFT from the beginning?
Noiz Assembly: Champaign-Urbana Illinois’s Noiz Assembly emerged in 1998 as the self-inflicted shotgun marriage of the musicated ramblings of renowned WEFT-FM radio hosts Scumbag Bastard of the metal/rant program “Just Plain Angry Noise” and Edli B’n Hadd of the long-running overnight sonic smorgasbord “Incoming Wounded”, assisted by the alter-egos of like-minded fellow radio hosts of such outre genres as jazz and African music. Originally christened the Just-Plain-Angry-Incoming-Wounded-Noise-Assembly (get it?), its premise was to periodically transmit improvised audio collage—live, unrehearsed, unplanned, with doors open to participants of all levels of musical training or lack thereof.
Somewhat like communes, this model did not entirely prevail.
The Noiz Assembly currently sports a year-round population of four—seasonally embellished with friends, family, and eco-tourists—still of varying musical acumen, and each armed with conventional instruments as well as more challenging artifacts including partially controllable pre- and post-strike manipulating devices. Not to mention collectively possessing an embarrassing familiarity with rock and pop subforms from the 1960s through the 1980s.
After dragging their gear into a pile and switching it on once every three months for ten years, the Noizers have arguably developed some strategies for fitting their sounds together and/or using them against each other.
In Noiz Assembly performances, narratives, field recordings, and hitting below the middle ear are allowed. Slop counts; scratches count double. That said, you are as likely to hear the Noiz Assembly produce a groove jam or a space shuffle as you are to hear them produce a lawn mower eating a pickle bucket or administer instructions for operating a witching rod.
Faithful to the improvisational ethic, nearly every single occurrence of the Noiz Assembly is a live radio broadcast, mostly on the “Incoming Wounded” radio program (Saturday nights midnight to 4:00 am, WEFT 90.1 FM Champaign, Ill., and webcast via weft.org) where they hold a quarterly-ish residency. In addition, each year the Noiz Assembly bullies their way onto the live local music radio show “WEFT Sessions” on the Monday before Halloween. More rarely, and fractionally, Noiz Assembly members have appeared on stage in improvisational collaborations, a practice that would be easily promotable with your holiday gift of gel lights.
RIYL: Orb, Ken Nordine, the Church of the Subgenius, the part of a Grateful Dead show where frat boys would head to the toilet, Merlefest, effortless distractions while stoned, fear of the id, being awoken by the garbage truck at three in the morning, tepid Malt-O-Meal soaking in beer, good things happening to bad people, hallucinogenic flu symptoms, “Guernica,” “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast.”
SP: Have you ever performed in public other than on the radio? Any plans to?
M: Op Cit. Sub-assemblies have done other than live radio, but I don’t have a record.
E: What he said… a gig at the old IMC, one at Channing-Murray, one at Iron Post… I think that is it. Always have plans… Getting the lard out is another thing… Besides herding the Noizers is like herding cats…
SP: Is this always a Halloween deal?
M: Since 2001 Oct 29… 1st WEFT Sessions NoizAss.
E: I thought it was in 1999… But we gots da rites to it an’ nobody bedda try an’ step on it. They’ll be used as an instrument of noiz in the next noizasster fer sure! The real sound of nine inch nails tearing flesh!
M: 1999 was before my time; predecessors may have skipped 2000.
SP: What do you guys do for a living?
M: Type into the guts of cell phones
X: Corral water data behind Weber’s Theory
B: Coat insects with metal
E: “Visualize data and tart up prima donna car dealers”
SP: What music do you actively draw inspiration from?
M: Live shows we have seen, including the curated and sudden, the impromptu, the just passin’ thru, and some stuff we choose to play on air. Oh, and NegativeLand live!
X: I am inspired by shows I go to hear that bore me.
E: Concepts and inspirations ala Fripp, Eno, the Orb, the Sudden Sound Series artists… Instrumental construction ala Eric Leonardson and some other folks
SP: What instruments/items do you use in your performance?
Op Cit …
M: (Mic, Guild D-35, Gibson WRC, Mosrite Ventures)—> JamMan—> Sony HR-GP5; Goon-Bops, bongos, claves, agogo, temple bowl, shaker, rain stick, jaymar, bowl, et cetera, etc. etc.—> air
E: Warped mind, voice, Casio VA-10, iBook, a springboard wannabe, gopichands, bag of bottle caps, sticks, stones & singing bowls. As well as that busted cymbal. All stuffed through an effects unit, seasoned (sometimes appropriately) and sent on its merry way.
SP: What’s the greatest album of all time?
M: Stop Making Escape from Everything You Know is Waiting for the Dark Side of Sgt. Euro’72 Kinda Sticky Supreme.
E: Not enough space or time for this one really. But groups & people with great albums are Horseflies, Pink Floyd, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Laraaji, Vangelis, A Produce, Balkan Beat Box, Tans-global Underground, Zakir Hussien, Banco De Gaia, Martyn Bennett, Peter Gabriel, Gentle Giant, Mari Boine, Carl Stone, Chebi Mami, Bill Laswell, Bill Nelson, Afro-Celt Sound System, A.Kuvezin & Yat-Kha, Univers Zero, Muslimgauze, Timbuk 3.
SP: How much do you practice as a group?
M: Nada, Zip, none, nil, void. The NoizAsster is the practice. And we never rehearse, either.
SP: Feel free to make up any questions you like;
M: Guys, should I buy the Casio Tone Bank SA-20 that’s on Craig’s List?
E: Speaking of Casio… anyone know where I can get another VA-10? And a Buchla Thunder… And a Vorpal Sword for that matter… (I love to go snicker-snack or something similar to that) That’s my wooden nickel’s worth.