What happens when musicians meet and meld together influences of Afro-Cuban percussion, metal, folk and hard rock, plus a psychedelic tinge and a deep appreciation for New Orleans-style funk? You get a funk-rock instrumental band with a bit of metal named Noisewater.
This is what happened when three musician friends from Metro New Orleans and the region teamed up with two other musicians from elsewhere and combined their youthful influences of Led Zeppelin and the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a homage to the funk of The Meters, adding their own unique little twists to the presentation. Baton Rouge musician Garrett Fleming once described Noisewater in the most flattering way: “Like the Meters, if they had listened to what we grew up on,” referring to the Rock & Roll of the 1980s through the present.
Noisewater’s saxophonist Ole Anders Oddlokken added this observation: “Nothing feels better than when fans really get the essence” [of their fused-together style], even if the way a few fans express that is by a “little headbanging in front of the stage.” Noisewater came together as a band about two and a half years ago. Three old friends, who once played music together while attending Destrehan High School, joined forces to aim in a new direction. Diluted now were the early musical influences. Drummer Cody Fahnestock came as a veteran of rock bands Shattered Display, The Stratus Project and, most recently, the indie-math rock band, Meta the Man.
Bass player Kyle Donegan brought his experience with the Houma rock band, The Difference. Guitarist Brandon Hotard came home from his service with the U.S. Coast Guard having previously played in the rock band, The Program.
The band’s new direction leaped forward when these three core members linked up with Oddlokken, a Norwegian-born New Orleans area resident. Oddlokken (whose first name is pronounced “Ooh-La”) had played with blues and big band
groups in Norway and had already ended his long-time collaboration with the New Orleans folk-rock band, ZamaPara. In Lillehammer, Norway his first childhood sax lesson included the tune, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of his destiny to marry his art school classmate from New Orleans and build a life and musical career here. Then along came two more band members, keyboardist Chad Carlile and percussionist Chad Toups. Carlile, a Tuscaloosa native, played previously with the blues bands of Troy Turner and Paul Cutler and the Coverups, The Alabama Blues Project and Remedy Krewe. Toups, whose percussive skills strengthened Noisewater’s rhythm section, performed with local ska band Hopetoun, rock/blues band The Bayou Chieftains and ZamaPara. With the additions of Oddlokken, Carlile and Toups, the band neatly morphed into the funk idiom that has become its signature. However, Noisewater’s style is more than just an imitation of New Orleans funk. Their sound has a hard-rocking grit to it, “unafraid
of a distorted guitar” or giving into their “heavier and more metallic roots,” explains Oddlokken. This fusion of genres and cultural influences couldn’t have happened anywhere else except here in New Orleans. The result is a band with each member contributing their own interpretations to each song in expertly crafted layers of structure and orchestration. Solos include the smoky keyboards, screaming guitar licks and soaring sax. Largely an instrumental band, Noisewater replaces vocals with the saxophone’s lyrical and melodic phrasing. The sound and style could alternately be described as funky with a rock attitude, frenetic and punchy, lighthearted feel-good music for dancing or relaxing yet sophisticated and progressive. Also, introspective but chilled; a vibe with a power behind it. Wherever and whatever their origins are, geographically or musically, Noisewater’s members are prone to say, “All of our soul birth certificates say New Orleans.” Starting with their first gig at the 2013 Rock & Roll Mardi Gras Marathon, Noisewater
has been building a following and they are now commanding attention at venues and festivals across the state and region. They’ve been on some notable stages and played with such bands as Gravity A, The Quickening, Remedy Krewe, MadFro and Jamie Lynn Vessels’ Band. Noisewater has already made a featured appearance on WWOZ radio, which they see as a big step along their musical journey. They’ve also been named “A Band to Watch in 2014” by Gumbo Pages in Houma. Asked whether Noisewater has a particular message or attitude or whether they operate more on instinct, Carlile says, “Our sound is what happens when you mix psychedelic classic rock guitar, a tight bass line, funk drums with metalhead precision, zonky percussion and sound effects, a soaring Norwegian saxophone style and soul/ragtime keyboard. The result is an amalgamation of styles that seem to conflict when considered individually, but all culminate into pieces with a funky flair grounded on a solid rhythmic foundation. I’ve even imagined our sets in juxtaposition with Tarantino scripts.” Oddlokken adds, “The message is pretty much about having a good time and getting lost in the groove while providing a way to express ourselves individually and as a group.”
The band continues to evolve while keeping the music they write fresh, marketable and funky enough to belong to the city of its origin. So, what’s next for Noisewater? An upcoming CD of all original music. Keep
your eyes and ears open for it. In the meantime, visit their new website, www.noisewatermusic.com.
You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp, BandPage, Reverbnation, Soundcloud and Grooveshark.