The London/Bristol Punk Band Noah and the Loners Discuss Being the Youngest Act Signed to Marshall Records, Their Debut EP “A DESOLATE WARNING,” and Politics

Some people realise that they want to be musicians at a young age, but few actually make that realisation such an immediate reality as the British musician Noah Lonergan, who fronted the successful punk band, Polarized Eyes, with his childhood friend Amber Welsh on bass, throughout his teens.

“Me and Amber were in Polarized Eyes from when we were 12 until 17,” Noah tells Post-Burnout. “And that kind of fell apart when everyone started talking about where they wanted to go for uni and what they wanted to do, and the other two who were in the band with us decided they wanted to go off and do proper jobs. So, they’re doing engineering and biochemistry, now! [Laughs]”

After the band broke up, Noah decided to study Songwriting at the BIMM Music School in London, where he enrolled in 2021. From the success of Polarized Eyes, Noah had caught the attention of representatives from Marshall Records, who were eager for him to start a new project for them to sign.

With Amber still on board, Noah still needed a guitarist and a drummer for this would-be project. He recalls the day when he planted the seeds for what would germinate into Noah and the Loners. “I kind of just stood up in class and was like, ‘I need a drummer and a guitarist!’” he says. “And Noah [Riley, their drummer] and Joseph [Boyle, their guitarist] were the only ones to stand up, so I kind of got stuck with them! [Laughs]”

This occurred in February 2022, when Noah was just 17 years old, and the band became the youngest act to sign with Marshall. For Noah, it was an easy transition between bands. “I think it was a natural progression, really,” he says. “Like, the bands sort of flowed into one another nicely. Like, we had a lot of written material for Polarized Eyes that was unreleased, that I then taught this lot the chords and how to play it, and they became their own different versions of the songs with the new band.”

The raucous and simple punk music which the band revelled in seemed antithetical to what its members were being taught at the Music School, but, for Joseph, that was part of the appeal. He tells us, “The environment we were in at BIMM was very much great musicians teaching us, but they were like, ‘You wanna be really clean, really tidy. You want it to sound perfect,’ and I feel like, naturally, we just went against it! We always have our education, but we wanted to embrace the edgy or rawness of just playing guitar.”

The newly formed band soon began writing music together. The additions of Joseph and Noah Riley added some new dimensions to the music, which was taken from their individual and contrasting interests. However, the members found that they had a lot of overlap in taste, such as when Noah and Joseph found out they had actually attended the same gig by the indie band The Amazons at the Brixton Academy, three years prior.

Noah and the Loners’ music embraces the original spirit of the initial Kings Road punk movement. With back-to-basics, punk-without-adjectives, laconic, in-your-face jams, they sound like a band you could easily hear one night at The Vortex or The Roxy in ’77. Yet this sound wasn’t necessarily a deliberate choice.

“I don’t think we ever really sat down and went, ‘This is the type of punk that we’re going to make’,” Noah says. “It was just the music that we made because that’s just the stuff that we came up with. I think we’re inspired by loads of different music, to be honest. We’re really into a lot of contemporary punk and listen to loads of Fontaines [D.C], Idles, Shame, all of that. So, I personally would say more of my influence comes from newer stuff, but, obviously, they’re influenced by older bands, as well, so I feel like you just get the influence through their music, you know what I mean?”

Joseph adds, “I think, naturally, if we had a great idea in rehearsal, we’d be bouncing off the walls with excitement, and then that kind of came across in our music through energy and urgency, as well.” “I think maybe what’s different about us to some other contemporary punk bands is just that we’re pretty forward with the messaging that we have, like ‘70s punk,” says Noah. “It’s just very in-your-face, whereas I know a lot of contemporary punk bands are a bit more metaphorical with their lyrics and stuff.”

Indeed, the band are known for mixing the personal with the political in an undeviating and no-bullshit manner, which directly challenges the listener to think about the topics being spat at them, be it climate change, trans rights, or the systems which govern them. We asked the band if they felt it was difficult to write politically influenced lyrics when causes and issues arise and squelch so rapidly.

“I think, obviously for us, we’d really like to get music out there as soon as we write it because it then feels relevant at the time, but that’s just not the way that it works,” says Noah. “I think it’s very important to keep writing about what’s happening at the time, even if it then comes out way later. I think, with ‘Crash Landing,’ we wrote that, like, what, over a year-and-a-half ago, now? And it’s still as relevant today as it was now.

“That’s why I think sometimes having a really, really specific song is actually almost damaging for the band themselves, in a way, because, yes, you’re talking about something that’s ridiculously important, but is that actually going to be relevant to the music industry in six months’ time and are people going to relate to it when you can actually put the song out, do you know what I mean?”

“Also, I think it’s important to pick and choose what you want to write about,” adds Joseph. “To write a song about everything is really hard, so I think it’s important to just pick and choose.” Adding to that, Noah says, “Yeah, I feel like you’ve got to pick your battles wisely, to be honest. Like, I don’t think we can write stuff about things that we’re not fully educated on, do you know what I mean? That’s why I tend to write things about trans rights all the time because that’s something I’m very well-versed in. But I also think it’s important that you don’t keep writing the same song, do you know what I mean? Obviously, if you’re writing about the same thing, politically, it can come across in the same way.”

Despite being known as a London band, the members now live in Brighton. When we asked if they felt that today’s youth are leaning more leftwards or rightwards, Noah admits that it’s a hard thing for him to gauge, as he now lives predominately within the Brighton art scene, which tends to lean left, but he also notes that in his lifetime, he has never lived under a non-Tory Government.

“I don’t think they [young people] know what to believe anymore, because everyone in power are just liars,” says Joseph. “I mean, all of them, liars. And now there’s a fear that we’re all going to die too young, by getting bombs dropped on our heads. So, it’s just a crazy situation.” “I think, also – as I was saying before – most people our age would never remember having a liberal Government in power,” says Noah.

“And I think when you’ve grown up with that, there’s two ways of going about it: You either absolutely hate the Government and want change, or you’re so used to it that you start agreeing with them because you don’t know any different. And I think that’s the case with people our age; they’re going one way or the other.” “I strongly believe that everyone’s going to be voting, as well,” says Joseph. “I really do. Like, younger people.”

The cover to the band’s debut EP, A DESOLATE WARNING
Courtesy of Marshall Records

Last week, the band released their debut EP, which they recorded in the summer of 2022, titled A DESOLATE WARNING. “For us, they’re still as relevant as they were then because they’re the songs that made us, as a band,” says Noah of the EP’s five tracks. “They were really the first songs that we wrote together that just made sense and sounded like us, in a way that maybe some other songs hadn’t before. I think the EP is, for us, the perfect mixture of all the things that we talk about in the band, whether that be political, or about mental health, or just about a shit day, like ‘Hell Of A Day.’ Like, the kind of tongue-in-cheek lyrics in that are very, very us. [Laughs]

“I think, for us, all of these five songs just work together, and they tell the story of who we are and us growing up, and the way that our brains have developed within that time and the things that we’ve gone through within that time.” Joseph and Noah went on to discuss the songs in detail, with Noah finishing by saying, “I think every single song has a brilliant story. Like, ‘Just Kids’ is an ancient song for this band. Me and Amber wrote that in, I want to say, 2019, 2020, Like, that’s an old song, but it just felt right to have it on this EP, because we are still 19. [Laughs] We’re never going to be able to release that song again, and it still be relevant!”

Noah and the Loners’ debut EP, A DESOLATE WARNING, is out now to stream or buy. You can keep up to date with the band’s music, tour dates and social media accounts on their website. This interview broadcasts in full on today’s episode of POSTBURNOUT.COM Interviews… at 16:00 (IST). You can check it out on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music Podcasts.

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