20 Questions: Bell X1

Paul Noonan, the lead singer for Ireland's Bell X1, drops by 20 Questions and tells us why the Beatles killed music.

Bell X1

Blue Lights on the Runway

Label: Yep Roc
US Release Date: 2009-03-03
UK Release Date: 2009-03-02

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

I tend to be moved to tears by movies or TV shows a lot more easily in the last couple of years than I used to. I’ve only recently watched The West Wing, at which I cried a lot at the moving speeches -– it was practice for the real thing I suppose. I cried at a recent movie about the hunger strikes in northern Ireland called Hunger. And I cried at The Wrestler.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Oh man, I dunno... maybe a little Ignatius J. Reilly, mostly because I love his name.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Is not Sgt. Pepper’s... In fact, this record killed music. Before this, bands knew what they were doing before going into the studio, and laid it down quick, bish bash bosh. These upstarts decided “to use the studio as an instrument” and spawned decades of bands fluting around, sticking microphones in toilets…and no songs. Ergo, the Beatles killed music.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

My only interest in Star Trek is for those armpit-hugging tops. I enjoyed Star Wars pre ’84, as they were an integral part of my early cinema going and all the joy that this has brought. I had an audio tape of The Empire Strikes back, as it was apparently “too scary” for me to see.

5. Your ideal brain food?

My brain seems most happy with full-on New York breakfast fare at 3:00 in the morning. Twenty-four hours diners. God Bless America.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I remember being 14 and listening to R.E.M. or the Sundays on my Walkman in bed. Those first flushes of wonder, I don’t think I’ve felt as in love with music since. We’ve had people say that we were that band for them, and for me there is no higher accolade.

7. You want to be remembered for...?

I want to be remembered for teaching people to fly, but that’s not going to happen. It’s mad to think of our records being played in 100 years time, I’d like that idea –- people putting on some “oldies” and thinking them so quaint.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

The ones who lived through insane hardship to soften the land for their children.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

I’d love to have been in Bill Wither’s band for the Live at Carnegie Hall record. Maybe Marvin, the quiet bass player –- “he said four words last year, and two of them were airport."

10. Your hidden talents...?

I make a mean risotto, and I’m good at going up into the attic and finding things. Well, I’m just happy I haven’t put my foot through the plaster yet as I am tall and awkward and gangly.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Pants first, then shoes.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

For the title of our second record, Music in Mouth, we stole a line from a poem by Austin Clarke called "The Planter’s Daughter": "When night stirred at sea / An the fire brought a crowd in / They say that her beauty / Was music in mouth."

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

I feel best in Alexander McQueen. No, that sounds too wanky. I feel best as I am now, morning bleary in my apartment with classical music on, in my stolen bathrobe, staring into the ditch (computer).

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

My girl. Or if she couldn’t make it, the girl that Al Pacino tangos with in Scent of a Woman.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Paris, 1913, for the premiere of Stravinsky’s "The Rite of Spring". There were fistfights in the audience between people who hated it and those who didn’t. All these people in tuxedos and dresses, in the Theatre des Champs Elysees, so fired up and enraged about this ballet…

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Em, turning off the computer.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?

I am a machine. If anything gets too important, I cut it out.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

I like the city at the moment. Dublin for friends, Amsterdam for a city that works, New York for... those pancakes at 3am.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Learn some grace.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Working on trying to get this snow that’s falling in Dublin at the moment to stick. We haven’t had proper snow in many years, and we’re hanging by the window, willing it to build so that we might rediscover our inner child.

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