Musician Natalie Noone hopes she's into something good
It can be intense to try to live up to your parents' example. Now imagine your dad is world famous pop star.
That's the life of fledgling country/Americana musician Natalie Noone, whose father is none other than legendary Herman's Hermits front man Peter Noone. But that didn't scare Natalie off from following in her father's footsteps and heading into the music industry, albeit with a different brand of music.
She'll be bringing that brand – along with her band, The Maybes – to Milwaukee for a variety of shows starting Wednesday night with a two-hour solo set at The Bay in Whitefish Bay. She and The Maybes will then open for – you guessed it – Herman's Hermits at their two shows at Potawatomi's Northern Lights Theater before closing out the week with a gig at Racine's Route 20 Outhouse.
"I'm like hitting all of the bases," Noone said. "It's like my entire career can be summed up in this four-day experience. We're covering all of the types of venues, aside from the stadium, but maybe that will take a while."
OnMilwaukee caught up with Noone before her mini-Milwaukee tour to talk about growing up with a famous dad, as well as her own musical inspirations and aspirations.
OnMilwaukee.com: When did you get into music? I'm assuming you lived in a pretty musical household considering your roots?
Natalie Noone: (laughs) Yes, that was the case. Oh gosh, I don't know. I grew up backstage, and there was always music playing in my household. My parents used to play me music through my mother's stomach. I got a classical music education in the womb, which is very odd. (laughs)
I grew up backstage, and my dad played a lot of music in the house. I must have seen somebody play the violin somewhere because I asked to play the violin when I was four years old, so I played that for about ten years. I got tired of the classical music, so my dad started introducing me to '50s and '60s music and showed me how to play "For No One" on the piano because he told me it was "For Noone." So thus my love of chords and sort of more pop songwriting was born. I eventually picked up a guitar and this sort of country music fell out of me. (laughs)
OMC: What was it like growing up as Peter Noone's daughter?
NN: You know, I didn't really know that was different. It's that classic answer; I wish I had a more interesting answer. But I didn't really know what was up. I didn't know that was different. I was an only child, so my parents took me everywhere so I was sort of treated like an adult. I knew my dad was special, but don't all little girls think their dad is heavenly? (laughs) I idolized him just like the fans did, but it didn't seem too unusual to me.
People will ask me if I struggle with opening for my father, is that weird, and I say, first of all, the exposure is incredible and the opportunity. But also I have so much in common with my dad's fans. I mean, I grew up listening to his music; my first concert was a Herman's Hermits concert. I love all the songs too. It's nostalgic for me. That's my childhood, as well. That's what it was like growing up with him.
OMC: Do you ever feel worried about being compared to your dad?
NN: I guess I'm not too worried about it because Carole King hasn't given me any of songs to do for her. When she calls me up and gives me a song like "I'm Into Something Good," then I'll start worrying. (laughs) I'm so lucky to have had the upbringing I did with my dad and everything I've learned from him. I mean, he's a road warrior. Any questions I have about the road are right there if I need them. We're so different; I mean, I'm this little girl singer, and he's this British icon. So I got quite the education.
Any comparison between me and my father hopefully would be a positive one. He works harder than anyone I've ever seen. So if anyone tells me I'm like my father, I'll take it as a compliment, even if it's not. "Why thank you, you think I could sell millions of records, as well? Thank you very much!"
OMC: You eventually moved from California out to Nashville. What did you really want to hone and take from being in that Nashville climate?
NN: I sort of woke up one day and said, "I'm moving to Nashville" and made it happen. As a part of my musical education, of course I came across the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton – all these people who came through Nashville and recorded here. I just fell in with that and the romance and the simplicity in the face of such complex things, like romance.
This is a songwriting Mecca, as far as I'm concerned, for the kind of music I was inspired by. The appreciation and the musicianship that happens in Nashville is unlike anywhere else. I'm a real sensitive type, and I needed to go someplace that would help me get in touch with my soul in a safe place. New York was too scary for me; I grew up in Los Angeles, and I knew I didn't want to live in these places. Nashville was such an obvious decision for me based on what was coming out of me in my songwriting. All the Nashville greats, I wanted to know how to be so brilliant and so simple all at the same time.
OMC: Who are some more of your inspirations for your music?
NN: Well, I love Nick Lowe, but you can't hear it in any of my music. I suppose you can if you're very familiar with Nick Lowe; you'll hear similarities because I just love him. I grew up on Elvis and the Everly Brothers, and then, as I went on my own path, I found Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. Dolly Parton is one of the greatest writers ever; I just love her. I guess I have sort of an old school sensibility. You can't blame me with who my dad is.
OMC: The country music genre is … I don't want to say it's over-saturated, but it's a crowded field to get into. Does it ever concern you, and what do you hope to do or bring to the genre?
NN: You used to always hear this phrase, "Be in the right place at the right time." I think that's totally wrong. I think it's, "Be everywhere all the time." That's my business model. I'm not just going to quit. If I end up 60 years old playing in a bar in Nashville, that's fine with me. I mean, I hope that doesn't happen, but I'll still be doing it. Ever since I was a kid, there's not really another option for me. I'm not any good at anything. I definitely can't do any math, and I was a lousy waitress. So music it is.
OMC: Is it nerve-wracking to be coming out of Nashville and bringing your music to a different market?
NN: I'm just getting started, so it's all scary. You're just like standing out there naked basically, like "This is what I do; I hope you like it." It's a vulnerable position to be in because you're like, "Please like me." And it hurts when they don't, but you have to tell yourself, like, that's why there's a menu in the restaurant. Not everybody is going to like the kind of thing I do, and that's okay, but if I can find a couple people who do, that's enough to keep me going for another couple of weeks.
OMC: What's next for you and the Maybes?
NN: We're recording in February hopefully or maybe March. It's definitely product time. Hit the road as best we can, but we need something to sell while out there. It's definitely album time. Or another EP. I listen to vinyl and albums, but it's really intimidating to tackle eight songs in the studio. I think if there are three that I like and put them out as singles, that's fine. It's just a matter of getting stuff out there already.
It's time. I'm a late bloomer. I always have been. I pulled all my baby teeth out when I was in fifth grade and bled everywhere because I was sick of being behind. That's sort of the story of my life. Luckily, I haven't done that with my music, and I've just sort of let that happen and develop. I could've pushed it, and I could've pushed stuff out and let my dad help me when I was 15 put out a pop record and just disappeared and be embarrassed. That could've easily happened to me, but thankfully no. Hopefully, I'll be one of the celebrity kids who has a good career.
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