Ex-The Drones drummer Mike Noga returns with another fascinating solo album. Set in small town 1950s Australia, KING tells the sad and macabre story of couple Jack and Mary, and utilises the voice talents of actor Noah Taylor for narration.
Q1/ Your choices with the narration are really interesting. The Narrator’s voice starts off very separate, as an outsider to the story, but then he turns up in all kinds of places. What were your ideas behind this?
I wanted to use Noah [Taylor] in various different ways. Although he does play a lot of ‘characters’ on the album – Jack, Mary, the DJ on the radio – in a broad sense he is ‘the devil’ or ‘Jack’s demons’ if you like. He’s guiding us through the story and at the same time weaving in and out of it himself and popping up in various guises. I was certainly very influenced by certain immersive theatre productions I’ve seen recently and the one thing that struck me about those is that the ‘fourth wall’ is utterly destroyed. It’s not there. And so I wanted to incorporate that theory somehow into this album.
Q2/ You’ve done something odd to your voice on that main background melody in Mary (Reprise); is it a vocoder? It cracks very weirdly, it’s amazing.
My voice naturally cracks up at a certain register… years of not learning how to sing properly and smoking will do that. But I believe there’s a small amount of a distorted effect on the vocal in that song. That’s actually one of my favourites. It was really fun to weave together the four different vocal parts. We approached that song almost like a hip hop song. There’s a sly reference to Elvis at the end too. Another reason the album had to be called KING.
Q3/ Woyzeck [the play on which KING is based] was an unfinished script – did you tinker with a few ideas for how to conclude the narrative?
I have a very clear picture in my head of what happens to Jack and Mary… but I’m keeping it to myself! Ha-ha! Only I will know how the story really ends! I wanted to keep it open to the listeners’ own interpretation, rather than the ending being just plain ‘happy’ or ‘sad’. It’s purposefully quite surreal and yes, enigmatic at the end. Is the last song all in Jack’s head? Is Mary still alive? Or was the whole album in Jack’s head and the last song is the only ‘real’ moment on the whole thing? I leave that to you to decide. Good luck!
KING is out now via Cooking Vinyl.