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Mike Noga: The Cold Year

Mike Noga is a singer-songwriter. Mike Noga is a drummer. Mike Noga is a tour manager.

Yes, the drummer for Australia's noisy rock outfit the Drones has released a fine and slightly twisted solo album The Balladeer Hunter under his own name (think about the title, it's not The Ballad Hunter, but hunting the singer of ballads) and as a result he's having to organise his own solo shows.

He struck lucky too though and has scored the opening slot for Band of Horses (dates below) which means his interesting songs will be put before a receptive, smart audience. In recent times he's been out with Mark Lanegan and Okkervil River so he is keeping good company and the songs on his album -- which he will play in a solo set so will be stripping them right back to the bones and sinew -- have drawn comparisons with Paul Kelly.

He's been down this path before though with his 2005 Folk Songs album, has always been writing his own songs and admits to loving Bob Dylan's Desire which was an influence on this new one. His songs weren't over-rehearsed but -- as was Dylan's Desire -- put down in quick takes to keep them fresh and spontaneous. The album was sealed in two nights.

Time then for multi-tasking fast-working Mike Noga to answer our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire 

The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .

As wanky and untruthful as it sounds, probably "Mess Around" by Ray Charles. My dad would play Ray a lot around the house and I remember thinking "hmmm, this seems cool". Either that or "Bow River" by Cold Chisel. Which, by the way, is now "cool" to like. But I was there at the start.

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

In no particular order: Axl Rose, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, all four members of Alice in Chains, Queen, EMF, INXS... the "Grease" soundtrack got a fair run as well ... should I go on?

Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?

Lennon, smart dude. Can't stand the Ramones (apologies. Just never "got" it) I love Madonna. Always have, always will. She's another very smart one. And I saw Jay-Z in London last year and he blew my mind. I've been jogging maybe twice in my life and both times I've had Jay-Z on my headphones. Surely that says something?

If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

I always (and kinda still do) wanted to be a fireman. The fact that I'm terrified of heights and flames hasn't dissuaded me one bit.

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .

"Ball of Confusion" by the Tempations.

"100 miles and 'Runnin" by NWA

"Somebody to love" by Queen. 

All very danceable.

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?

Nothing comes to mind. I not much of a "collector". Also, when I'm at home I hardly ever listen to music, as strange as that may sound. The local classical music station gets a fair run, but that's about it. For the drummer in one of Australia's noisiest bands, I'm very un-rock 'n' roll.

9781863953023The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

Motley Crüe's disgusting biography "The Dirt" (which I hear is being made into a motion picture. Yikes) and Don Walker from Cold Chisel's "Shots". It's absolutely beautiful. Not just one of my favourite books about music, but one of my favourite books, period. Heartbreaking and wonderful.

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

Queen at Wembley Stadium... and I would play the part of Freddy Mercury. There's a pattern forming here...

The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

There Will Be Blood. Down By Law. Ghostbusters

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

I'm on tour right now here in Australia with the wonderful Ben Salter from a Brisbane band called The Gin Club. I recently downloaded his great solo debut "The Cat". I can't remember the last CD I bought. It may or may not have been Dean Martin's Christmas Hits. Which gives you an indication of how often I go CD shopping.

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . .

Misty Mountain Hop - Led Zeppelin. As a drummer (in my 'day job' The Drones) I am duty-bound to worship John Bonham. And I do. I do indeed.

The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .

Can I have a Mark Rothko original?

You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .

Your face on my bottom.

nogaDavid Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?

Am I rich? If so you'll find me with my girlfriend flitting between New York, LA, London, Mexico and Paris, eating and drinking ourselves to death.

If I am by no means rich, then I'll spend it in my hometown of Hobart, Tasmania, with my family, my girl, and two cats, reading books and drinking wine until the Apocolypse arrives.

I'd be quite happy for the Apocolypse to arrive now, to be honest. Liven things up a bit.

And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”

"The Balladeer Hunter" is my best album ever because I say it is.

MIKE NOGA (The Drones) - DEBUT NZ TOUR - JAN 2013

Bodega, Wellington - Jan 14th

Wellington Town Hall (with Band of Horses) - Jan 15th

Auckland Town Hall (with Band of Horses) - Jan 16th

The Wine Cellar, Auckland - Jan 17

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