Noonday Morningstar on Getting Drive Like Jehu Tattoos, Opening For a Weezer Cover Band
Since playing 35 Denton this year, things have been picking up for Noonday Morningstar. The four-piece has plans to record an album towards the end of this month, so we sat down with the band at their rehearsal space and talked about what got them into music, why some got ink on their bodies and what they think of movies about bands.
What was the first instrument you learned to play?
Benjamin Painter (vocals, guitar): Piano.
Sean Dove (guitar): I played violin for about a week in fourth grade.
Painter: I kicked ass on saxophone after piano for about eight years.
Tex Sirisawat (drums, keyboard): I'm going to go with the recorder.
Matt Stewart (bass): I played trumpet for, like, one year in middle school. I wasn't any good at it, so they tried to move to the French horn and I was like, "I'm done. I'm not playing the French horn."
When you started playing in a rock band, do you remember the first show you played?
Painter: I was 13. It was at what's now J&J's Pizza, but was then Mr. Gatti's. It was terrible music. We were like a half-Nirvana cover band. What that means is that every song had the same rhythm as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" but it was always adapted to different chords. We had fliers with a dog on them, but it was like a ClipArt dog. There was a lot of people there.
Dove: My high school band played at a coffee shop in Orange County, California. We were terrible. We were basically a Weezer cover band, but didn't want to admit it. Same sort of thing, played to a lot of 15, 16-year-old girls mostly.
Sirisawat: You're from the O.C.?
Dove: Well, from San Diego, originally. They love it when you call it the O.C.
Sirisawat: Oak Cliff?
Stewart: I was probably 14 or 15. It was a birthday party. It was our first show and we were like, "Let's just get it over with." There was a lot of people there. It was god-awful. We messed up so many times.
Sirisawat: I really don't remember. I know it was with Wes [Todd Solem of Here Holy Spain]. We started playing in seventh grade, so whatever that is, 13 or 14. It was probably in a park or something.
Stewart: You just set up in some park?
Sirisawat: No, serious! We probably ran an extension chord from the bathroom outlet or something. I don't remember.
First band that you obsessed over?
Painter: I already explained mine: Nirvana. No, The Drifters was my first when I was a kid. I was so into them and Elton John.
Dove: Smashing Pumpkins was mine. I was obsessed with that band for most of my high school years until I discovered punk rock.
I've found that band is a good gateway for emo. Songs like "Disarm" and "Soma" can whet the appetite for building dynamics and whiny vocals.
Painter, to Dove: That pretty much explains all of your musical tastes.
Dove: Yeah! If it's whining, I'm in.
Stewart: Probably the first band I was obsessed was The Descendents. I got Everything Sucks and I got three copies because wore every one of them out. I was constantly listening to that album.
Sirisawat: I really don't know. It's a hard question. All I really remember is being a kid and having Green Day and Oasis and Salt-N-Pepa cassettes.
Painter: Salt-N-Pepa, huh?
Dove: I think my first tapes were Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and Ace of Base.
My first tape was Starship's No Protection.
Are you fans of movies that feature a band or bands? Documentary or not, like This Is Spinal Tap?
Painter: Only Spinal Tap.
Dove: There are some: It Might Get Loud is really good. There are few others that are really interesting. For the most part, bands tend to come off pretty bad. I still have a bad taste in my mouth with Wilco because they came off as the saddest, most pathetic band, completely uninterested in what they were doing.
Stewart: I really like documentaries like Dig!, which was wonderful because they were trying to be serious and their actions just made them look totally ridiculous. I really like the Roky Erickson one, You're Gonna Miss Me. The Townes Van Zandt one is really good.
Dove: The Murder City Devils have a good one too. It's a month of their tour.
Sirisawat: I haven't really seen any of those. I've never seen Spinal Tap.
Dove: That's what we're doing after practice.
Sirisawat: I've seen a little of the Wilco one, but I have been told that I need to see 24 Hour Party People.
Dove: That's an awesome movie.
I'm going to ask this, even though it only pertains to three of you, what was the first tattoo you got?
Painter: No comment.
Dove: My one and only tattoo is the ink bottle from the cover of Drive Like Jehu's Yank Crime.
Stewart: I don't really have any good stories with my first one because I waited until I was after 18. I kinda gave it some time and thought about it.
Any fond memories of the pain you had to experience?
Dove: It really wasn't that bad. It was just on my arm.
Painter: I was like, tense. It wasn't because the tattoo was painful. It was probably because I was kinda scared.
Stewart: I remember expecting it to be way worse than it actually was.
Sirisawat: Sounds like the description of everyone's first time.
Dove, to Sirisawat: So, after this you're going to watch Spinal Tap and get a tattoo.
You don't have any tats you regret?
Painter: No comment.
Dove: Not yet. There's still time.
Painter: The only ones I ever regret, they're all covered, and that was because it was such a damn foolish thing.
The band has been around for a while, but this lineup has been in place to six months. How did you feel the first time you played together, in practice and live?
Painter: Pretty good.
Dove: Yes. It was a little daunting for me.
Painter: He had a really hard job because I suck at guitar. I'm kinda all over the place and he's very technical. So he's doing all this intricate crap and he's got to mesh and mold to what I'm doing. I don't play the same thing twice.
Dove: I had a deadline for learning 12 songs and writing parts. It wasn't stressful; it was a fun challenge.
Painter: There were even days when I got an acoustic guitar because it was hard to reconfigure everything. We just had to be thoughtful.
Dove: After a few practices, it clicked. Our first show, we opened for a Weezer cover band, interestingly enough.
What were they called?
Dove: Geezer. And they all dressed like old men.