"I don't think I have a specific 'thing' anymore. The record has so many different things on it, that I could kind of go down a tunnel with any of them. That's really liberating," Noah Gundersen told us when he stopped by the Baeble Studio. And clearly the old phrase "actions speak louder than words" rings true, because the Seattle-based artist displayed the range of his sound when he played a few songs for us. When listening to his latest album WHITE NOISE, he goes from "THE SOUND," a rock anthem backed by synths and samples, to "FEAR & LOATHING," a folk tune stripped down to a simple acoustic guitar and piano.
When in our studio, he performed all of his songs like the latter -- stripped down to let the excellent songwriting shine. In addition to the two aforementioned songs, he also played "NEW RELIGION" and his single "BAD DESIRE," and, on a more personal note, I have to say that this was one of the most pleasant, enjoyable sessions we've had this year. Between the harmonies shared with his piano-playing counterpart Abby Gundersen, who is also his sister, and the sublime emotionality behind each song, there's no way you won't find some peace when watching.
In between songs, Gundersen opened up about growing up, his family life, the meaning behind the title of his latest album, and you might even hear some beautiful improvisation on the piano.
about music. I think it's an abstraction and that's why we're drawn to it because it goes beyond what we can describe and what words mean. Yeah, my name is Noah Gundersen. I'm a singer, songwriter from Seattle, Washington. Woman I can't please you I will only leave you Sure as the night follows day If you start to wonder If you spell Amanda Honey, you should run the other way Hold on, I'm coming home You're giving me a bad desire You're giving me a burning fire, in my bones And I wanna see you tonight one last time I'll go home and turn off the lights And leave you alone, leave you alone Woman, I've got nothing To give you and something Else is always on my mind Little love drug needle You always make me feel Like for a minute, nothing here is wrong So hold on, I'm coming home You're giving me a bad desire You're giving me a burning fire In my bones And I wanna see you tonight one last time I'll go home and turn off the lights, And leave you alone Leave you alone. Hold on, I'm coming home You're giving me a bad desire in my bones Honey, hold on, I'm coming home You're giving me a bad desire You're giving me a burning fire You're giving me a bad Desire in my bones And I wanna see you tonight One last time Some of my earliest memories of music were with my dad who would write and record his own songs in the garage. And he taught me how to use the tape machine. This like 8-track tape machine I would record my songs and I was like 11, like, 12, 13 years old, I learned how to play guitar and recorded them on tape. Just a really supportive musical environment. I don't think I would be…probably, I doubt I would be doing music if it hadn't been for my mom and dad. That was my sister who played with me. Yeah, she's been playing with me for over 10 years now. There was a moment that I still remember. I was playing a song, you know, writing a song or like playing guitar, something, in my room and my dad came in and he was like, "You know, your sister is learning how to play violin. Maybe you should have her play with you. " And I was like, "Okay. I mean, I'll take anything I can get. " And we did our first show together when I was 16 and she was 13 at this little coffee shop... - and ever since, she's been… she's put up with a lot of bull… Nothing ever comes like it did when you were in it Just a memory of a kid just a washed out finish Just a pain-in-the-ass Johnny Cash middle finger No shooting up drugs, no quitter is a winner, Nothing ever comes like it did when you were in it Keeping nothing for yourself just a stone-cold killer Now you're passing your people like a ship in the night Looking to every stranger for a fight Nothing ever comes, ever comes if you call it Choking like a dog, like a dog on a collar Open up your mouth, your mouth if you want it And listen for the sound, The sound, the sound is coming down Hoping that you like, that you like how you're living Relying on the kindness of strangers you will be forgiven How many times, how many times, will you shit on what you're given? How many times, how many times, 'til you shut up and listen? Nothing ever comes, ever comes if you call it Choking like a dog, like a dog on a collar Open up your mouth, your mouth if you want it And listen for the sound, the sound, the sound is coming down Nothing ever comes, ever comes Choking like a dog, like a dog Open up your mouth And listen for the sound, the sound, the sound The sound is coming Nothing ever comes, ever comes if you call it Choking like a dog, like a dog on a collar Open up your mouth if you want it Listen for the sound, the sound, the sound is coming down - Cut. - My new record is called "White Noise. " And it came out some time in September. I called it "White Noise" for a few reasons, primarily because that the time I was writing it, I was feeling this kind of overwhelming sense of just like I'm being flooded by data and content and just stuff all the time. And then there's that all like the anxiety and fear that has kind of been a part of the cultural conversation for the last year or two. There was a couple of reasons but mostly just this kind of overwhelming sense of everything all the time. I don't think I have a specific thing anymore. Like, the record has so many different things on it that I could kind of go down a tunnel with any of them. That's really liberating. I'm excited to just keep kind of spreading out and doing different things. It's nice not being in a box anymore. Daddy's got a gun He's gonna hurt someone Trying to overcome In fear and loathing He got fall down drunk Trying to fill his cup Ma goes down and up In fear and loathing No one gets a break in this town They're closing all the local joints down There's nothing left for us here now In fear and loathing Mama got knocked up 17 years young Said she fell in love In fear and loathing No one gets a break in this town They're closing all the local joints down There's nothing left for us here now In fear and loathing Nothing changes much Quarterback's a drunk The prom queen just gave up In fear and loathing Whoa Whoa Whoa In fear and loathing In fear and loathing And then "Fear and Loathing," I wrote about partially about the town I grew up in and just other small towns around America that have lost their identity. Like, there's a huge divide between urban and rural America. And it's sad, because these places that used to have an identity, like a cultural identity, are now just kind of gutted and replaced with strip malls and fast food restaurants. They're closing all the local joints they had You can see why people would be afraid of change or, you know, vote out of fear and all these things because, like, the identity of their town and of themselves is being replaced or kind of washed away. I drew the line then crossed it I wanted a promise of a nicer view With everything shiny, nice, and new And I drew the line then crossed it I measured the frame, I cut the glass, true But shadows in motion rearranged you All I want is something to love All I want is someone to love me All I want is someone, to love me like I do We're building a new religion A shiny and new religion Building a new religion So get on your knees, salvation ain't free I'll take a modern optic The right to be free from Is a freedom, too The freedom to dream, the freedom to use And I'll take what I've got coming The customized option Red, white and blue I just hope it does what I expect it to All I want is something to love All I want is someone to love me All I want is someone to love me Like I do Like I do Like I do We're building a new religion A shiny and new religion I'm building a new religion So get on your fucking knees Salvation ain't free
Noah Gundersen (born May 31, 1989) is an American indie folk singer-songwriter from Seattle, Washington, and founder of the band The Courage.
In 2008 Gundersen produced his first EP, Brand New World (album). Early in his career, he began to perform in Seattle and became recognized for his long dreadlocks, which many believed to be an homage to frontman Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, who served as a musical inspiration to Gundersen. Gundersen is also said to be influenced by Ryan Adams, Dashboard Confessional, and Neil Young.
In 2008, Gundersen collaborated with friends and his then-16-year-old sister to form the band The Courage. The group served as his backing band as he performed songs from Brand New World at clubs and cafes around Washington state. The group later recorded a live album, Live at The Triple Door (The Courage album), under the name Noah Gundersen & The Courage in 2008. The band performed at the Sisters Folk Festival in both 2008 and 2010 and evolved further, recording their debut album, Fearful Bones, under the name The Courage in 2010.
While also performing and recording with The Courage, Gundersen remained focused on his solo career. His second EP, Saints & Liars, was released in 2009. A rough recording of the EP originally circulated, landing on the desk of producer Daniel Mendez, who mixed the EP for a full release. Mendez then worked with Gundersen to release a follow-up EP, Family (Noah Gundersen album) in 2011.
Launching his career further into the mainstream, Gundersen's tile song "Family" was hand-selected by producer Kurt Sutter for the hit FX (TV channel) TV show, Sons of Anarchy. Sutter again looked to Gundersen and The Forest Rangers (band) to create an original song for the show in 2014, and the song "Day Is Gone" was later nominated for an Emmy Award for Original Music and Lyrics. The song "Family" also appeared on The Vampire Diaries on the CW. The track "David" was also later used in a 2015 episode of the Fox TV series The Following.
In 2014, Gundersen self-produced his debut album, Ledges (album), at Seattles Studio Litho, owned by Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard. The album addressed themes like faith, death, and past relationships. The debut album propelled Gundersen's career further into indie folk stardom, with his song "Poor Man's Son" - which was originally recorded for the Live at the Triple Door album with The Courage - receiving a feature on The Originals. While touring his debut album, Gundersen also exclusively sold a five-song EP titled "Twenty-Something" to concertgoers. Tracks from the EP were later available online through the deluxe edition release of Ledges.
Following up his breakthrough album Ledges, Gundersen returned to the studio to record his second LP, Carry the Ghost, which was released in 2015. The album deals with the challenges of success, failed relationships, religion, and sexuality. Gundersen has said he took inspiration from Neil Young's album Tonight's the Night (Neil Young album). Later in 2015, Gundersen helped to produce the David Ramirez album Fables, which released on August 28.
Returning to his hometown during a lull in his tour schedule, Gundersen reunited with friends from his high school band, Beneath Oceans. Originally reuniting as a joke, the group began to play old songs from their early days. Gundersen said of the reunion, "we reconnected to see if the old songs were still any good. They werent, so we started writing new ones. On December 1, 2015 the group released their first album, an eponymous EP titled Young in the City. The release was then followed up with live performances in the Seattle area and a second EP titled II on October 7, 2016.
In July 2017, Gundersen announced the forthcoming release of a new solo LP, White Noise.