tip of the bomb

The Middle Eighth Interview : Joe Nolan.

1. Joe give the M8th readers a brief overview of your sound.

It all starts with the lyrics. The music is built around them, or is borne by them, or born from them. A certain lyric may invoke a hillbilly melody, or a soul rhythm or a secret chord change from a dream. The “sound” is the result of me listening to the lyrics and following their guidance. The “sound” is the sound of me listening.

2 . How long have you been writing music?

I wrote my first song when I was seven. I was in love with an older woman (I think she was 15) and her cheerleading outfit really knocked me out. I started again when I was about 15 myself and I haven’t stopped since.

3. Most guitarists we speak to have been strumming from an early age, what age did you start?

I began as a saxophone player and only started playing guitar as a means to compose songs. If I could’ve sang and played sax at the same time I would’ve never bothered. I got my first guitar when I was sixteen.

4. We can hear the folk sound in many of your tracks, who is your biggest musical influence?

I can’t name a single person. Guthrie, Jack Elliot, Dylan, Willie Dixon and many others have left the mark of folk music on my work, but so have many of the books I’ve read and the films I’ve seen and the life I have personally lead. My father was a union organizer, I’ve held a union card, I grew up in MI where almost everyone in my town worked in a car factory of one kind or another, so the “populist” inclinations in my songs come directly from a life lived.

5. Your lyric writing is strong, what inspires you to write a song?

Thanks. The lyrics inspire me * I try to remain open to words and phrases in my own mind and in the world around me. Sometimes the “hook” will pop into place and then I try to remain very honest to its original implications as I build the rest of the song around it. Sometimes I’ll just get an image in my mind and I’ll have no idea where it’s going, but I’ll take a deep breath and try not to throw such a gift away. I definitely feel connected to a “Beat” style of writing, in that, I try not to leave a lot of room for “intellect” in the composition of my songs. I feel that the heart has much more to say. The gut has much more to say. The legs and hands have many more secrets to reveal than the inane editorializing of the intellect at a time like that. It is a form of arrogance that leads reason to believe it has a role to play in something as unreasonable as the composition of music. I am a big fan of editing AFTER the fact. But, developing a focus beyond the machinations of the “thinking mind”, leads to a place where images and melodies and rhythms all throb together, waiting to reveal themselves. They want to be found, they really do.

6. Ok some rapid fire questions, you must swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth!

A. Hendrix or Clapton ? Hendrix

B. The beach or the Bar? The Beach

C. Worst/Best musical moment? My best musical moment was the first time I performed an original song on stage. It changed my whole life.

D. One item you can take to a desert island for a month? Frisbee

7. What plans do you have on the music front in the next 6 months?

I plan on more touring around the Southeast and Midwest. I’ll be doing some electronic music compositions in cahoots with my very talented friend Chris Rubin de la Borbolla, the multimedia artist. I also plan on doing some shows in New York and I’d love to begin a new CD. We’ll see… *

8. Do you gig much?

Probably not enough. This year I’m very committed to doing a lot more.

9. Do you have any advice for someone looking to start a band or a career in music?

Seek advice and guidance wherever it is to be found. But always remember that nobody knows your music like you do.

10. Have you had any interest from labels?

Some, but I’m a big believer in doing it yourself and taking care of business as much as you possibly can on your own. Chasing labels always seems to involve too much waiting and I don’t think that’s the best way to service my songs. Labels have a lot to offer and obviously the right deal at the right time could be wonderful. It’s a fine line to walk as an independent artist, but, as I often say, I’m always open to negotiation *

11. Joe ,The M8TH would like to thank you for your time ,any words of wisdom to sign off with (or any new CD you would like to plug!)

Thank you for your time and interest. I don’t have a new CD to plug, but I will plug my friends. Check out Jerry Hager on His new CD “Miles From Brushy” is a mellow masterwork. Jerry engineered both “Plain Jane” and “King” at his Blue Bourbon Studio in Nashville. Also check out Jenny Bruce at She was recently in Nashville to accept an award from Billboard magazine. Her song “Amsterdam” won first prize in the pop category in their annual songwriting contest.

Thanks again. Happy New Year!

back to press