No Kind of Hush: The Peter Noone Interview
“All interviews, if they’re about me, I’m the most knowledgeable person.” That’s how an interview with legendary performer Peter Noone begins. Figure if you’ve had the same job for over five decades, you’ve been asked it all and your fans know it all and theres nothing new to be said.
Except there is new. A great new collaboration with The Red Button. A song winning massive praise and a simple video that puts a lovely visual with the famous voice. Noone describes it as a London in the rain song- but we’re Americans- so what exactly is that?
“It’s not very descriptive because the attraction to me was that it was a song about a guy who stays in bed while his girlfriend goes to work. The video is in Notting Hale Gate. The guy has a gig at night, and he stays in bed and gets up when she gets home and starts to get ready to go to work.”
“[I never lived that life.] I’m just a pathetic working class slob from Manchester. The grandson and the great grandson of the people who worked in the pits of steel factories. My grandparents came to England because they couldn’t find a potato.” Says Noone. The infamous Irish Potato Famine enabled us to grow up with the band Hermins Hermits.
Proof positive that Peter is a man of steady habits is his incredible longevity in all he does. Rocking audiences for as long as hes held vows with his wife over over 50 years- how does one accomplish such a thing in this day in age?
“I think you find the person that works. I was 21 [when we met]. Paul McCartney would’ve been married to Linda if she stayed alive. I got one who stayed alive and put up with whatever it is that needed to be put up with: a person who travels a lot and works hard. I think that I’m just lucky that I’ve got a job that I really, really enjoy doing.”
And time passes- quickly too quickly but the never aging Noone at age 70 keeps a pretty healthy perspective.
“I talked to my doctor the other day and said, ‘You know, I never thought I’d feel good.’
I used to think that my age, that that’s time to pack it in and get some slippers and have the Wall Street Journal delivered. And I didn’t realize that I’d still enjoy getting up in the morning, going to the airport, the adventure of the road. And I said [to my doctor], ‘When are you going to retire?’ and he said, ‘When I’m 85.’ That’s the first time I heard somebody say something sensible for a long time.
Mick Jagger is still going, and he’s looking fit and you can see he’s enjoying it, and Keith is enjoying it and Charlie is being Charlie, so you look at them and go, well we started out at the same time, they were older than me, but they weren’t much older then. When you’re 16 and somebody’s 23, that’s a huge difference, and now we’re a bunch of old geezers.”
Those old limeys still cross paths in odd ways.
“I see Ronnie and Mick at parties. One of the weirdest things about that British Invasion thing was that we all kind of knew each other. It was a very small music scene in England and we knew the people who didn’t make it as well. It was a small country… it was like New Jersey. Everybody in New Jersey knew each other and everybody In England, we even knew people from Scotland.”
“We knew Van Morrison and them. No matter where you were from on the islands, you would meet in some café somewhere. Not in pubs, that was later. In the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll in England, everybody would all be travelling around in vans. I saw Jack Bruce before he died, and we remembered a fight we were all in in 1963 against some truck drivers.”
With a career spanning such time you cant help but wonder what sticks and how accurate it can be.
“You remember the fights that you won. The bit that we had going for us was that my mother had this coffee table and we’d unscrew the legs from it and I trained the Hermits? Herbits? And said that if something starts you have to hit the guys with it. People would dick on us they’d ask, ‘are you a boy or a girl’ and then a fight would start.”
“The guy from Badfinger got arrested because someone said that to him and he said ‘how many girls you know with one of these,’ and they got arrested.”
“We never got arrested because we’d just beat people up.”
Those were much more innocent times. I wonder how that would go down in 2018.
“Now people have guns. Not in England. It was just a time where all the bands were comrades. We’d look out for each other and knew where everybody was.”
Rock and Roll has started to simmer, we’ve heard it all before. Theres nothing new or fresh.
“People once upon a time shared information because we were not competitors. I think we were all sufficiently unique that we could all continue doing our thing and not jump in each other’s shoes. Now everybody’s kind of a bit similar. The Asbury Jukes and the E Street Band they were probably both doing the same kind of thing. The Kinks weren’t like the Beatles and the Beatles weren’t like the Stones and the Stones weren’t like the Kinks. There was a place for us all, we never competed. We all played unique, different types of music.”
“Basically everybody’s just a little bit judgey and an expert on everything and that’s not good.
I used to get in trouble because my sister liked Bobby Rydell which wasn’t cool but I had Bobby Rydell songs in my show and it wasn’t cool to sing ‘My Boy Lollipop’ because it was a man singing a song as if he was a girl. We were the only people who did it—the Stones didn’t, the Beatles didn’t.”
“We had the same PR as the Stone’s producer. The Stones wanted to be the bad boys but we were the good guys, and we didn’t have to act. We said that we’d probably be boring tactile types with white shoes, learn to play golf and all that shit. We just played ourselves, which was not very tiring. It must be tiring to always have to be the strongest guy in the room.”
The strongest guy is one thing but the voice inside the room is yet another. Peter Noone hosts his own radio show on SiriusXM and I gotta tell you its fabulous.
“I just have fun with it. I used to have a blog, on my website every day I’d go in and write a story and it was all about my mom and to tell it on the radio is easier. I do it from wherever I am when they need it and it’s just stream of consciousness.”
And when he’s not cruising memory lane, what’s a legend like Noone listening to”
“I’m into so many different things. We stream everything. My daughter is a musician.”
He went to go ask her daughter what band they were listening to together: Steelism.
“We have music days where all day you can only play one things like the Stones or just ZZ Top and we haven’t chosen today but maybe the Dave Clark 5 because I love them.”
So many artists are sobbing that streaming music is robbing them blind. But Peter has a whole different vantage point.
“All you’ve got is people who whinge and whine about ‘oh, you’re not getting paid enough’ but I think that if you get a check from Bolivia for nine cents of streaming, that didn’t used to exist. This is all new people who were able to discover [music].”
“If those people were looking to buy a record first of all where would they hear it and where’s the record store? All this stuff is new, I think it’s great for music, and great for eventually when people stop putting 5,000 pieces of product out a day.”
“Once it shapes itself up, it’ll slowly figure itself out as a totally new business.”
“I’m happy to be an oldies but goodies guy.”
He describes streaming music as: “refreshing” allowing people all over the world to find it.“We’re admirers of all music. We’re not jaded yet– jaded is the worst thing.”
“ [There was a] big choice in 1963- either American rhythm and blues or Bobby Rydell, Buddy Holly. I don’t really sing those songs much so I’d rather make pop songs that boys and girls can listen to and connect to other than songs about, ‘they’re taking away my job.’”
No one’s taken his job yet and I can guarantee he will be in a venue near you in the very near future.