I find myself super sad about Jason Noble today. I only learned about his cancer maybe a month ago (through the amazing Gordon Withers, who got his start on Archenemy some 15 years ago). I had been wondering where his irrepressible indie rock live presence had gone for the last few years, and figured he was in another amazingly cool band, and I had just gotten too old and uncool to know about it.
There were about five years there where I think Jason was sort of my hero. Rodan, yes, who were awesome, but then Rachel’s, so obsessive and romantic and old printing presses and ink with blood in it, and this was in the mid 1990’s when everything was techno, britpop and grunge.
But it was really Jason in a live show. We (Craig, Annie and I - Rachel’s were a big influence on Rockets Burst from the Streetlamps, even if you can’t hear it) got to see Rachel’s three or four times at least. And of course the first thing you notice is Rachel Grimes at her piano, looking like she was scared to even leave the house but playing beautifully and inexplicably in a “rock” band, but the next thing you invariably noticed was Jason Noble. Maybe because he didn’t quite look the part. He was preposterously handsome, in a normal, sort of Christopher Reeves sort of way. He didn’t dress with any affectation or flair, just a nice, normal well dressed dude. And he was kind, and funny, and charming, and would say funny things, and you could tell he just really loved being in bands, really loved indie rock, loved DIY, loved helping his friends, loved helping the scene. He was in two impossibly cool bands (this was before his third, even more impossibly cool band, The Shipping News.) Him coming to Boston was always a treat. Rachel’s were a gift.
My whole life, in one way or another, has been sort of influenced by that DIY indie thing, getting your own thing together with your friends, turning it into something special. Annie and I with Involved Design, all my bands with Mike Anderson, Rockets with Craig and Annie and Aug, Sean, Jussi, Tony, and Aug in Archenemy, Ben, Keith & Robert in the Barbarian Group. It all sort of sprung from that scene. Bands like Rachel’s and Low that just kept going, touring all the time, wrote back to their fans, were irrepressible supporters of any endeavors people would attempt to further the scene.
It’s weird and sad to realize I’m 40 and still doing that, and without even me noticing, one of my main inspirations for even being this way had cancer for 3 years and I didn’t even notice. I feel sadness and a bit of shame, maybe, a bit too wrapped up in it? And so sad for his wife Kristen.
Feels appropriate to be in Portland today, one of our last bastian holdouts for indie. I’ll pour one out for you tonight, Jason. You are missed and loved. I often turn to listening to Rachel’s when I’m feeling down or a little romantic. It’s especially poignant today.