The Noise Who Runs is the project of songwriter and performer Ian Pickering, who is perhaps best known as a member of and songwriter for 90s British trip hop outfit Sneaker Pimps, having co-written such hits as ‘Spin Spin Sugar’, ‘6 Underground’ and ‘Tesko Suicide’. He has also been keeping busy working on the new Sneaker Pimps album throughout 2020 and 2021.
Hailing from the North of England, Pickering launched this project in 2019, three years after he relocated to Lille in northern France. Today, The Noise Who Runs is essentially a duo of Pickering with Brazilian-born French guitarist Felipe Goes.
The Noise Who Runs is a direct, literal translation of ‘O bruit qui cour’, a French phrase used to mean ‘gossip’. It was also the name of Pickering’s favourite restaurant and exactly where he says all his ideas fell into place, the first time, which closed after struggling through Covid lockdowns.
With live performance plans shelved due to 2020 Covid restrictions, they instead released two EPs that year (‘The First of Two Sides of a Double-headed Coin’ and ‘The Other Side of the Same Double-headed Coin’).
The Noise Who Runs’ essence chiefly lays in the shared principles and approach to making music of punk/new wave and early hip-hop – in terms of the mentality and the message. Musically, TNWR’s indie rock is heavily shaped by the 1970’s experimental electronic scene in Sheffield, the 1990’s guitar-house mix of the Manchester scene, Primal Scream’s guitar-electronic sound after 1997’s ‘Vanishing Point’, and 2000’s XTRMNTR.
“These four songs work perfectly in sequence – a perfect little trip, a 20-minute vacation from your day. ‘How U R’ is a noise-guitar fest with the guitars turned off, ‘Cows Come Home’ feels like an upbeat guitar-pop lullaby of sorts, ‘Gods’ would make a good scary soundtrack and ‘Little Black Cloud’ is two separate songs with the same chorus. It stuck together early and refused to be prised apart,” says Ian Pickering.
“It’s neither melancholy or angry. The truth of things makes people sad or angry or both, for whatever reason, and so they confront, or turn away, and things remain the same. How’s that working out for us really? So essentially, the EP says this is how it is, everyone knows it, why? If everyone knows it, how can it be this? Don’t get angrier, don’t get sadder, get smarter and join the dots…all the way to consumer capitalism, the embodiment of ‘gold is the root of all evil. It does it very beautifully and poetically, so that sweetens it all up.”
Opening track ‘How U R’ is fast-paced and rough, blasting off with the warning siren tested monthly in Lille. Inspired by ‘The Last Word’ by 19th Century English poet Matthew Arnold, it throws questions at the fairness of the deal in humanity, that things should be on a higher level than they are now and this current trajectory of all-out consumer capitalism.
‘Cows Come Home’ blends guitar pop and psychedelia without the feel-good lyrics. This is a call for solidarity if not harmony to try and create an existence that is less numbing and relentless for the majority of people. Title track ‘These Will Be Your Gods’ goes dark into the dangers of cults of personality, of populist leaders, petulant tech billionaires and desperately cloying celebrities, set against a sense of powerlessness.
Finally, the 8-minute indulgence of ‘Little Black Cloud’ is like something to wake up to on the last day of a festival. Tender and almost sweet in its melancholy, this take on aspirations and the force-feeding of perfection and how isolated and singular and angry things have become.
The ‘These Will Be Your Gods’ EP is out now, available via Spotify, Apple Music and elsewhere. Music lovers can also expect the next single from The Noise Who Runs single to be released on February 14.
01 How U R
02 Cows Come Home
03 These Will Be Your Gods
04 Little Black Cloud
All songs written by Ian Pickering
Produced by The Noise Who Runs
Electric Guitars and keyboards by Felipe Goes
Vocals, electric guitar and keyboards by Ian Pickering
Drums and additional production courtesy of Julien Guyot
All songs mixed and mastered, with additional production, by Colin Cameron at The Cell Studios
Artist photos by Théo Vandeluc