Giugno 13, 2024

“ROGER IS IN SERVICE TO THE MUSIC” – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GABE NOEL

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We had a chat with Gabe Noel who played in The Dark Side Of The Moon Redux and led the string section for the London gigs at the Palladium

FC:  I read a lot of compliments from Joey Waronker, who has been in Roger’s band for a few years now, and that you have collaborated on some things together. Was he the link to getting into Roger Waters’ band?

GN: I believe the mark of a great musician is to have an identity, and to be able to recognize their identity immediately, and to me, Joey is the epitome of “instant identity”. The way he hits the drums, his sound, feel, and musical choices are unique to him and him alone. I could listen to him play all day everyday. However, the connection to Roger came from another musician with another instant identity, his bassist and Music Director Gus Seyffert. He and I have been friends and colleagues since 2007, and listening to him and Joey together is an undeniably killer groove.

FC: In addition to playing you took care of the string arrangement, in my opinion a fundamental part of the sound of TDSOTM Redux, what was it like working with Roger Waters in the studio?

GN: Right on! Funny enough, I never met Roger until day 1 of rehearsals for the TDSOTM Redux shows in London. All the strings were recorded remotely here in my little studio in Sierra Madre, California.

FC: Was it your idea to play the Sarangi?

GN: It was! I had been studying Sarangi for a few years—something new to challenge myself, and learn classical Indian music (Shout to my Guru-ji Pankaj Mishra). Anywho, when Gus and Roger sent me Us And Them there were long sections of grooving where a solo might go. I can’t recall what Gus said would go there, but I just went for it. My general attitude towards music making is Lemme try the wildest thing first! We can always make it more tame… So I tuned the sarangi down to the key of the song, and let it fly! Sarangi is the most expressive instrument imaginable. I believe the literal translation of Sarangi is “1000 Colors”. Turned out they loved it! Then Gus had an amazing idea, to double the entirety of the Sarangi solo with the strings, creating an incredibly textured and nuanced soli.

FC: I think it’s an honor to have participated in the revisitation of one of rock’s masterpieces like The Dark Side Of The Moon. But from your professional point of view, what is the best Pink Floyd album?

GN: Admittedly I’m not an authority on Pink Floyd’s discography, (laughs). But one of my all time favorite songs is “Fearless”. Reminds me of being in Venice beach, barely old enough to drink, playing this song with local legends Tom Freund, Chris Joyner, and Michael Jerome. Master teachers.

The string section that played at the Palladium from left: Nina Harries, Tim Harries, Rachael Lander, Klara Schumann, Gabe Noel, Amy Langley

FC: Now let’s talk about the gigs at the Palladium. Was there a lot of tension between you? Was Roger excited for this show?

GN: Honestly I had a blast, beginning to end. Much of the band have been colleagues of mine for years, so I felt very welcome straight away. Roger seemed genuinely inspired to revisit, reinterpret, and perform the new arrangements. And that excitement definitely spread to everyone involved!

FC: There was a bit of tension with a spectator on the first evening although it was handled in a clear manner by Roger. What was the atmosphere like before playing?

GN: I didn’t even hear it really. Roger really commands a room, and I found more than anything he is in service to the music, self expression, and freedom! Before playing I was so excited to be sharing the stage not only with Roger and band, but also the amazing string players hired for the performance. They were absolutely amazing.

FC: I know you can’t answer this question, but I’ll try anyway. Is there a chance to still see the TDSOTM Redux show live?

GN: Ha! I’m so down to perform TDSOTM again. But yeah, that’s out of my hands!

FC: I think you had a busy year (2023), in addition to the collaboration with Roger, I saw that you also played on the soundtrack of the film Barbie. Do you already have other plans for this year?

GN: Well I’m primarily an instrumentalist, often behind the scenes, so I end up working on quite a few tv/film/record productions at the same time! Also most of my work is remote, so there’s a lot I’m churning out of my little home studio. Let’s see what this year has in store! Peace!

Interview by Francesco Madonia. Translation edited by Matteo Gherardi.

ROGER E’ AL SERVIZIO DELLA MUSICA by Francesco Madonia is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0