Wednesday, December 1, 2010

RTBE Interview with: Noun (Marissa Paternoster)

An on going project of interviews with various artists.  Today's guest is Marissa Paternoster, the creative whirlwind behind, NOUN

Rock The Body Electric:  You seem to be extremely prolific with song writing, recording and touring with your other band Screaming Females, what made you think now was the right time for a solo album?

Marissa Paternoster:  Sadly, I am not as prolific of a song writer as I would like to be.  Writing Noun songs is somewhat of a reclusive activity, and I haven't had a moment to be much of a recluse with the amount of touring Screaming Females has been doing.  I need to have a lot of time to build a song that I find satisfying, and time is something that I haven't had lately.  The Noun record seemingly came out of thin air.  I was interning at a recording studio in Millstone, NJ called The Hunt Studio and when the owner, Eric Bennett, and I were on down time, we'd record Noun songs for fun.  When Joe Steinhardt from Don Giovanni heard some of the tracks, he offered to release an album and, well, viola!

Noun - Holy Hell from If You Make It on Vimeo.

RTBE: Why Noun and not The Marissa Paternoster Project or something like that?

MP: I started recording under the alias Noun when I was about seventeen.  I wouldn't want my name to become synonymous with a project that I may not identify with fully in the future.  I also wanted to maintain some semblance of mystery.  As artists, it is our duty to procure interest in an audience so that they will listen to what we are trying to say.  If no one asks a question, no one is going to bother looking for an answer.  Kiss wears make-up, and Marissa Paternoster calls herself Noun.  It's that sorta thing, you know?    
Marissa MacKaye?!?! 

RTBE:  Ha, Yes I know.  You wrote all of the songs here, who helped you out on the playing?

MP:  Jarrett Dougherty of Screaming Females played on "Pearly Gates", and Mike Abbate from Screaming Females played bass on a bunch of tracks..."Outerspace" and "So Rough" to name a few.  The absolutely amazing Angela Boylan played drums on "Holy Hell" and "Outerspace".  She used to be in a wildly popular Brooklyn band called Cheeky who dissolved about two years ago (I think).  Miranda Taylor is an another amazing lady who played the drums on "So Rough".  She's in an awesome band from New Jersey called Black Wine, and she used to play the drums in an infamous Jersey band called Hunchback.

RTBE: There is an obvious piano influx on Holy Hell, does this come natural or is piano something you had to work at?  Any other instruments you are comfortable with and may bust out soon?

MP: Haha, I am in no way comfortable playing the piano!  Piano is a fairly (easy) instrument to understand, most folks can sit in front of it and play something in a matter of minutes.  Writing songs on different instruments offers a new perspective.  I also really enjoy organs and things because they offer such a wide array of sounds.
 RTBE: You're dynamic when using pedals, feedback and distortion like the jet engine roar on "So Rough" and the warbling on "Wrong Things".  Are these methods used to simply expand/sound larger or is there more going on there? What artists inspired you with pedals/feedback/distortion?

MP: I suppose the songs on Holy Hell run the gamut because they were recorded over such a long period of time.  All of the songs had quite a bit of time to develop and change.  Also, giving every song its own character makes songwriting and recording a lot less boring.  There are a ton of artists who inspire me in so many different ways it'd be silly only to name a few....

RTBE:  There is spiritual element on this album, starting right at the title, Holy Hell, going down to what feels like very personal lyrics.  How much did spirituality come into the writing of this album?  Is it something you wrestle with often?

MP: I am not a particularly spiritual person but I have a profound interest in the fanaticism that drives fundamentalist ideals.  Religions zealots almost seem like they posses some type delusional mental illness, which is something else I take great interest in.  I often write about Heaven and Hell because they serve as practical metaphors for best and worst case scenarios.  I struggle with faith, but the struggle does not concern god or any sort of institutionalized religion.  

RTBE: Do you plan on touring behind these songs, or playing them live with Screaming Females?

MP:  Nope!  Screaming Females tours to heavily I haven't had time to play much as Noun.   

RTBE:  Holy Hell shows off your impressive singing range, have you had any professional training?

MP: I was in choir when I was young, but that's it.
RTBE: "Call Earth" simply sounds epic, when it is done I am always surprised it is only 3:36, was it your intention to cram such a wide musical journey into such a short song?

MP: Hmmm...can't say I agree with the "wide musical journey" you speak of...I don't suppose I thought too much about it, the song just turned out that way!  Thank you, though! 

RTBE:  No, Thank you for the time and all the great music!  Keep up the great work.

Go buy the fantastic Noun album c'here, there is an album Review of Holy Hell c'here and go see Marissa whenever she tours in any form or will not regret it.

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