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with a few of them, like ‘Flame,’ our sort of Disco number. If I’m honest, I think our strongest stuff is the moanier, wrenching stuff, but we wanted to get beyond that and do joy, because we’ve never really done joy before, convincingly. For us, it’s really hard and we’re very inspired by bands like The Flaming Lips, who do it so well.” The members of Bell X1 have actually been together since their teenage years when they were known as Juniper and fea tured future Folk superstar Damien Rice on vocals. With Rice’s departure, Noonan moved from the drum kit to the front of the stage which completely altered the direc tion and sound of the band, leading ulti mately to their trio of studio albums, a live CD/DVD last year, phenomenal success at home and a number of high profile opening gigs with Snow Patrol, Keane and Starsailor, among others. Noonan notes that the band learned a lot of touring “rules” from those experiences.
“Don’t go to the Rieperbahn in Hamburg would be one,” says Noonan with a laugh. “It’s their horrible red light district where some of the members of the party wit nessed what they described as their moth ers in negligees. We won’t do that again.
We’ve never been on a tour longer than three weeks and I’d imagine if you do Europe or the States, you could be on a bus for two months at a time. One of things that the Starsailor boys did was shake up the set list most nights, and I suppose it’s impor tant to do that and keep it fresh so it doesn’t become a gig-by-numbers, which I’d imagine it could easily be.” By way of example, Noonan recalls the opening of Dublin’s short-lived Planet Hollywood, which featured an appearance by one of the club’s partners, Sylvester Stallone.
“He must have been on some whistle stop tour of Planet Hollywoods,” says Noonan. “During the opening ceremony, he got up and said, ‘It‘s great to be here in this particular city.’ I don’t think he had any fucking idea where he was.” In a recent issue, The Clare People, one of Ireland’s largest weeklies, cited Bell X1 as “the real creative drivers in Irish music.”
Noonan’s response to that assertion — as he and the band work on their new album with an idea to include some new Electronic influences — speaks to the very concept of defining the country’s musical output.
“I don’t see us in such a lofty role,” says Noonan. “The concept of what an Irish band is is pretty undefined at the moment. For a while it was this singer/songwriter based, quite lustrous and emotionally over wrought music, but I don’t think that defines the music coming out of Ireland, which is totally not that. And while we have elements of that, we’re inspired by bands like Talking Heads and Radiohead. It’s prob ably true to say lyrically we are quite Irish … there is an oral tradition that’s very strong. You don’t necessarily recognize it in your work, you pick it up by osmosis grow ing up here.”©