Smoking a fag and drinking a pint outside the Royal George pub in London’s Soho, Jim Noir (really Al Roberts) and I shoot the breeze about the past few years that have thrown this laid-back Manc from his humble Northern abode into the spotlight, becoming a music critic’s dream (think the hugely successful 2006 Adidas World Cup ad using “Eanie Meany,” among other adverts). His jingle-worthy tunes are soaked in 60s nostalgia sprinkled with electro-pop and Noir is now gearing up for the release of his sophomore album, a follow-up to 2005’s Tower of Love. Throughout the convo it became clear that the dapper one-man show that is Jim Noir and the humbly friendly Al Roberts combine to create one of 2008’s coolest acts that will surely take SXSW and the scene by storm.

So you’ve been on kind of a hiatus?

I don’t really know why I’ve been away for so long. I think it was laziness, mainly. Yeah, just various lazy activities. I’ve got PlayStation, and I’ve spent more time playing that than writing songs!

In that time you obviously formulated a new album, right?

Well I was being asked for one so it got to the point where I put one together as quick as I could. I always knew I had to and kept saying ‘I’m doing it’ but I wasn’t. And then I just got it together in one quick go, really. Sort of sprouted my soul very quickly!

Do you see this as part two of your first album?

No, it’s purposely different. I think it is. It’s better produced, better songs I think, louder, fresher, cleaner.

So in the sense it feels like a first album to you, since it feels more professional?

Yeah, since the first one wasn’t really an album, it was an EP. This time it was more working on one thing than a couple of things.

You were doing some support slots with the Super Furry Animals in the autumn to expose your new songs?

Yeah, we did a bit of them. That’s pretty much the only thing I’ve done in two years.

Wow, it’s been two years! I remember when you were supposed to come to New York and it didn’t happen.

That wasn’t our fault, we were on our way back to America from Canada and we got thrown out by the scruff of our necks! It was quite scary–
we got interrogated for about twelve hours. We did one gig with Sean Lennon and we were supposed to do the rest of America. They treated us like we were Pink Floyd! We’re some tiny band, we’re not exactly ruining the American economy.

[laughs] You must have been disappointed.

I was glad to get out of there to be honest. I’m dreading going back to be honest! [laughs]

So you’re playing South by Southwest?

Yeah. We played it before with the Beep Seals (Noir’s old backing band). It was one of the first gigs we ever did together.

So the Beep Seals were your first backing band. Then they went their own way. Now you’ve got a new band?

It’s kind of more, I just sort of picked a few favorite musicians out of other bands. For instance, Sarah, the keyboard player is in The Earlies, does her own thing and does a bit of King Creosote.

Is it a different dynamic this time?

Totally. The musicians are a bit more on the professional level.

Do you think all of this will help the band get bigger?

I think the album is gonna bomb! [laughs]

Don’t say that! [laughs] What is the new album going to be called?

Jim Noir. I decided it last minute. It comes out around late March.

I love the Mancunian, Northern vibe I get from you and your music.

Really?! I just write what comes out. I’ve never written anything about Manchester!

You’re so nonchalant about everything, I love it.

I don’t get out that much really.

Why?

Agoraphobic! [laughs]

[laughs] So what do you do then?

A lot. Watch telly.

And then once in a while you make some music! You choose interesting instruments- what were the main ones used on this album?

Usual stuff. I’ve got a bedroom full of wires and machinery that randomly spurt out noises.

[laughs] What comes first, the lyrics or the beat?

I make like a drum beat, then lay it up ‘til it sounds finished.

Then you throw in some lyrics?

I think that’s the hardest bit. I’m not particularly interested in telling anyone anything. I haven’t got any messages to tell the world.

I like the track “Turn the Music Down.”

Well that’s why I don’t go out anymore. It’s about not being able to hear yourself think.

So it’s kind of a declaration of you giving the nightlife up and going into the house? [laughs]

Well the chorus is ‘don’t turn the music down’. The inner me is saying it’s alright to be that loud, but you can’t have a conversation in a club. I think it’s just me getting old.

How old are you?

25.

That’s so young!

Give me a few more pints and I’ll get younger!

–Andrea D’Alessandro

http://www.jimnoir.com/