Needle Drop: On the Record with Andy Noble


Photo courtesy of MySpace
Photo courtesy of MySpace

Words by Erin Wolf

With those of the music-obsessed nature, it’s the music that chooses its lifers, not the other way around. Once caught up in the audio existence, it’s hard to go back; Milwaukee’s Andy Noble knows this well. Co-owner of Lotus Land Records, DJ extraordinaire and member of such bands as Kings Go Forth and De La Buena (current) and The Pacers (past), Noble, along with his brothers Tommy (The Thousandaires) and Davey created an enigmatically appealing energy for music and the arts while living in Milwaukee. They garnered enough attention in their hometown to have the title ‘The Super Noble Brothers’ adhered to their activities and arts-earnest lifestyles.

Tonight brings the screening of the Mark Escribano film, “The Super Noble Brothers” (2007) to the Oriental Theater, which documents the lives of the three brothers. Andy Noble talks to Fan-belt about the music that the film showcases, record hunting and about being able to give it all up.

The Super Noble Brothers film runs mostly on music, and it’s evident by the soundtrack. What’s your favorite song on it?
I like all of them — I mean, I picked them all. Actually, there’s one in the there that I didn’t pick, and I don’t like (Brooklyn something or other). Also, I didn’t pick the Roy Ayers track, which I think is a bit played-out. The best tunes are probably Little Beaver “Do Right Man” and Pharoah Sanders, “Creator Has a Master Plan”, but mostly it’s all nice.

How did you go about selecting the songs for the film with Mark Escribano and how much collaboration was going on to line the music up with the visuals? Was there a song or music that you really wanted in the film that just didn’t fit?
I just gave Mark a bunch of tracks I liked, and he did all the rest. He did everything as far as editing, etc. People always mistakenly think that I, or my brothers and I, made this movie. It’s Mark’s film. We are the subject, not the film makers! It’s not a like a bear edited Grizzly Man.

The film shows you and your brothers hunting for vinyl — were you apprehensive that your hunting spots would be discovered and dry up if you publicized them?
I don’t think it shows any spots that were open to the public besides our store. You’ve got to keep in mind that most people could give a rat’s ass about old records. Certainly not in Milwaukee, where the majority of the viewers of this film are from. I mean, come look at Lotus Land’s in-store sales figures sometime! You’ll see what I mean! Seriously, though, good spots are here and gone. This film took over six years to make. Everything you see us going through was long gone by the time Mark finished this movie.

Now that you’re a well-established DJ, record collector, record store owner, etc., do you find more people tipping you off to finds that they know you’ll dig and might sell or take out with you to spin?
Well, that’s more about having a reputation for paying people well, which I try to do. Most people have really bad records in bad shape, though. And it’s hard to convey to them that what they thought was this precious treasure in their basement is really just a bunch of Elton John records soaked in cat piss! If people have good stuff, I hook them up. That just doesn’t happen every day. Wish it did…

What’s one piece of vinyl you’ll take to the grave with you?
I’m not as materialistic about my records as people think. The collection as a whole is important to me as it represents (A) an ability to share what I consider to ‘great’ music with the outside world whenever and wherever, and (B) a journal of all the people and places my musical journeys have taken me. Since you can’t fit the whole thing in the casket, I’d say I’d probably be happier having it sold off one day. That way the records go to the people who appreciate them the most — the rich Japanese! And my family gets the proceeds from my lifelong obsession/passion/love.

The Super Noble Brothers film event takes place at 7 p.m. at The Oriental Theater (2230 N. Farwell Avenue). Catch Kings Go Forth at Stonefly (735 E. Center Street) this Saturday, 1/17/09.

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