On a follow up note in the 'more on Tom Noble' department...
The first time I met Tom Noble I was buying 45's from the trunk of his car outside 'Funkmosphere' in L.A. The record I was getting was his 45 release of the Wynd Chymes 'Baby You're the one'. I caught up with Tom to ask about collecting, his label Superior Elevation, and his newest project 'In Liger Vision' for Clone Records.
So, how's things since you've moved back to L.A. ?Great. I left town 1 year ago, came back to a boogie infused scene of new blood, talent and about 1,500 new weed retail storefronts.
What cities have you lived in and what projects have you developed in those towns ?I was born in Milwaukee, and did a 28 year stint there. While growing up I was in garage bands, sk8 rock, metal, what have you. It all changed when I started a ska band at age 15. After stealing my friends Mom's mix tape that a local soul DJ made for her, I got a nice introduction to rare soul music. From there on out it was a constant goal to write soulful music, keeping up with standards set by Curtis Mayfield & all of those he influenced. My longest stints in bands were the pop act The Thousandaires, and the live dub sect The Super Powers. Not to mention a good 8 year run of DJ'n with my brother as The Super Noble Bros. We had many nights, including a Brazilian party, jazz party, a 6 year Mod/Soul/Latin weekly & the still running Get Down which focuses on rare soul funk & modern.
Tell us a little about Lotus Land ?
Lotus Land was a record store started by my brother Andy, long time friend John Kuester & myself. Founded in 2000/2001 we set out to be a cool boutique record store. Part used vinyl, but we mainly wanted to order all of the cool reissues coming out with a major highlight on Jamaican & French music. Being located in the Heart (aka hood) of Milwaukee (nothing nice folks), we kind of started to specialize in rare and obscure soul and funk music. It made more money than $3 on top of a $25 Soul Jazz compilation. After a while I started hunting down local soul artists. My mom had managed Harvey Scales for a while in the 80's and the idea of finding music made by local forgotten soul heroes became like an Indiana Jones ghetto safari obsession for me.
I soon was driving through the hood every Sat morning looking for local wax in rummage sales. The hood is ruff in Milwaukee, but at 8:00 AM on Sat morning all the hardened life threatening gangsters are still sleeping for a good 4 more hours, so it was safe. Anyway, all of this lead me to start hunting down the records I really loved and the idea of re-issuing them came into focus. We started with Chicago's own Pamoja & Jewel, who happened to be the same group, and had two killer tunes, "ooh baby" & "paradise". That is how the store turned into a label.
How many total releases do you have on that label? and, what was the first ?Jewel Pamoja was first. We ended up doing 11 releases in total. Jewel/Pamoja - Ramsey & Co. - Family of Eve - Crystal - Wynd Chymes - LaRom Baker - Darwin's Theory - Cojo - Halo 7" & 12" & finally the Darwin's Theory LP/CD.
What are your favorites that you've put out on Lotus Land ?The Wynd Chymes is pretty unfuckwithable. Also the Ramsey & Co has saved my ass (as well as gotten plenty of people laid) in nightclubs around the world. But the ultimate master stroke for our label was discovering and salvaging the Darwin's Theory LP/CD. That was a divine intervention right there. Darwin's band hadn't even heard the material until we released it 30 years after they laid down the tracks. They were just young hungry kids trying to live the fast LA life when they recorded this material, by the time they heard playback they were grown men having lived full lives. Beautiful soulful music of the highest order, and to my delight they all knew their 4 part harmony parts upon first listen.
Recently your edits have come out on PPU...How did you get involved in PPU ?Andrew Morgan (owner of PPU) had been running his eBay store like a mini distributor for years when he started ordering tons of Lotus Land product. We had similar, yet different interests, so we started sharing info and ideas about reissue fodder and stuff like that. He loved what we were doing and wanted to do it his way so he asked me if I could sort him out with a label name. That I did, and I also threw him a logo for this label, grafted from a certain bay area picture sleeve. He liked the edits I was doing, and eventually got me to hand them over to him for release. Love that label. He did it right, well he still does it right. Just got the heads up that he started making PPU shot glasses with the logo on them! Cheers! He's eventually going to release some of my original material as well.
Let's get into this newest project of yours...the Liger Vision release....
Tell us a bit more about how 'In Liger Vision' came about ?
Liger Vision was a concept that originally started between PBWolf and Matt Rowland at the Stones Throw office. Matt lived close to me, and we started collabbing on material that Matt would release on his Liger Vision label. Real world moves took over in the middle and left me alone in LA to finish this project by myself. Clone had bid successfully on the project and I began working on material for that. Originally I was going to write vocals for the tunes and make it more of a soul/pop/boogie affair. But since Clone didn't really care about vocals too much, and we were falling behind schedule, I basically submitted all the tunes as instrumentals. Working on a lot of music during those 3 years, I was planning on dropping a full blown disco LP first, but the boogie beats were just easier to finish, so this material came out first. I still have a disco LP I'm trying to complete. Real session musicians, vocalists & strings. It's proving to be quite a beast to finish that one off! Lots of time and money gone into that one!
Did Liger Vision evolve somewhat from the Wizards project ?The Wizardz project is totally non related actually. Wizardz is this hard core boogie freak from OC named Funk Trip. He is a home made engineer who has been selling his records to buy the equipment to make more records like the ones he sold. He came up with the Wizardz concept, made some beats, and asked me to finish them with my guitar licks and keys. Don't know what will happen with that project. Kind of on hiatus for the moment.
Tell us about your recording process and what kind of multi tracking you did ?The Liger EP was all done in my house, recorded straight to the computer. I mainly was working with either sampled drum beats, sometimes I even jacked beats from eBay samples and reprogrammed them into sequencers. Then I'd come up with bass, guitar & keys for all the tunes and record them in Pro Tools & Live. The music sounds greasy because I don't listen to electronic music and I have a special fondness for lo fidelity janky ass shit in general. I don't do any of the clean ups, micro tasking & other stuff that many other producers waste their precious time on. The goal is to hit it, quit it & not baby sit it. Too much thought is just that, too much thought.
How much of this project is samples and how much is old school synths and drum machines, etc. etc.?The drums are half samples, half programmed. But on the sampled tracks I always play additional percussion on. Everything else is all me playing live.
What instruments do you play and what instruments did you play on this LP ?I play guitar as a first instrument. Dabble in bass, drums & keys. On this EP I played Juno 6, Slap bass, a fucked up guitar I found at an estate sale 12 years ago (never changed the strings yet), and various percussion instruments. Maybe one tune has a Prophet 5 on it.
You're on the same page and possibly inspired by Dam Funk and artists like Nite Jewel...What other 'new' artists are inspiring you ?
Dam Funk is definitely a big inspiration. He played a lot of the records I had been selling over the years. It's like when you're young and you eat broccoli and don't like it, then 5 years later all you want to eat is broccoli. That was boogie for me. I liked some stuff, but as a seller I had to make the call on what to keep and what to sell off. After hearing Dam play Aaron Broomfield Polyphase, I almost cried. I had sold, about 3 years earlier about 75-100 copies of that 12" single and failed to keep one. It blew me away. Dam taught me to keep the boogie around the house a little longer. Nite Jewel I had known nothing about until the Liger EP was finished. Other wise I would've tried to hit her up to do a vocal! But yeah, she is rad and she and her hubby Cole MGN are, if not on the same page, maybe a different page in the same chapter of the book. Love their sounds they come up with.
Talk a bit about Darwin's Theory and how that record came about ?I had found a single on the John Manship "rarest of the rare" page, and upon squinting at the scan I noticed it was from Tulsa OK. A big thing to me, because I had spent many summers there as a tot, and never heard of any tunes from Tulsa. Long story short, I tracked down Darwin and when I asked him if he recorded any other material than the 45, he informed me that he had a whole LP worth of material that he recorded at Sly Stone's home studio in Santa Monica from 78'. Even more amazing than that was the fact that he had the tapes, and he went out of his way to transfer them and send them to me. It took a long time, but we finally remastered all the material to the best of our abilities and I sat down and laid out the tracks for the LP and CD, designed the artwork (with help from Matt Rowland) and we managed to 30 years later finally release the complete fruits of that session at Sly's. The stories Darwin has of those days are enough to publish a coffee table book alone. Maybe that is next?
What's the rarest record you've found ?Rarest? hard to say, probably the "smelly finger polka" by Robin Yankovich, 1 of 5 copies made and distributed at the Smelt House Lanes bowling alley in Cudahy, WI. No seriously, rare? Who knows. Rare and good? I'd have to say that a couple of weeks ago I entered a crack home in south central and bought a mint copy of Halo on Marshall, as well as a mint copy of Karvin Johnson (the lead singer of Halo - and Gemini on M&M) on Marshall as well. The lady who sold me the records claimed to have won the house she found them in, in a card game.
Your two brothers are musicians and collectors as well... you were all featured in a documentary...what'd you think about it ? Where can people see it ?A bit weird being the subject of a documentary. Especially us, because we don't really have a tragic story or amazing story to tell. We are just an off kilter family from the rust belt of the USA. Our film will make a lot more sense in the future perhaps. It is kind of hard to watch footage of your ex girlfriends talking shit about you in front of strangers. Know what I mean? "This is your life" IFC style. You can hunt down the director Mark Escribano, he has a website. Google him.
By the way, I love the Liger Vison 45 label artwork...What's in the works for the future ?Go to Ligervisionmedia.com - The label is still going, though Matt & I haven't really done anything since Liger Music Vol. 1, Matt is always cooking up stuff over there in Nashville, TN. He's been doing tons of amazing artwork for Stones Throw artists. He just recently did a Nite Jewel 12" sleeve that tore me apart. He also just redid the Stones Throw logo. Come to think of it, we do have a project coming out shortly. It is an adaption of the "funk mystikz" tune from the EP. Wolf heard that song and wanted to have Franklin Thompson do a vocal on it. The result is a Stones Throw 7" pic sleeve entitled FRANKLIN THOMPSON 'Anniversary". It is scheduled to drop before valentines day, and it has a heart warming pic sleeve jacket. Look out for that! Buy it and play it for your significant other on that special day.
Liger Vision is one of the better 'new' records I've heard lately....Tom seems to constantly stay busy doing quality shit. With stuff like the Cojo 45 and the OG Twilight LP... check out other rare records he's got for sale at http://liptonwhitaker.bigcartel.com/
Also peep his blog at http://superiorelevation.blogspot.com
You can get 'In Liger Vision' via digital download at: http://clone.nl/digital/item190838.html
Or, on vinyl thru Earcave.
Here's 'Funk Mystikz' and 'Look' from the 'In Liger Vision' EP