The new musical project from Pop Will Eat Itself & Gaye Bykers On Acid frontman, Mary Byker, and Apollo 440 founder-member, Magazine guitarist & long-time collaborator, Noko.
The soundscape is wide-screen retro-cinematic. The mood is distinctly glass-half-empty, with songs lamenting the failure of technology to save us from ourselves.
For the first time, Mary sings over a lush David Lynchian laptop orchestra, replete with the sweet vocal harmonies and the sumptuous twang of Noko’s vintage Gretsch ‘White Falcon’, buried deep in a canyon of spring reverb. Like you’ve never quite heard them before…
When Mary met Noko :
Last century, Mary joined Noko’s band, Apollo 440, as frontman and they went chart-bound with, amongst others, their genre-busting, ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Dub’. Their collaboration, ‘Stop The Rock’, hit world-wide and nearly 20 years after its release, the film and advertising synchronisations show no sign of slowing down. The track recently flew into a stadium near you on Budweiser’s global FIFA World Cup commercial.
To date over 50 Apollo 440 tracks have appeared in Hollywood film & TV blockbusters (‘Gone In 60 Seconds’, ‘Driven, ‘Resident Evil’, ‘The Sopranos’ etc), and the band were also commissioned to record the themes for the ‘Lost In Space’ & ‘Charlie’s Angels 2000’ movies, and the mega-selling video games, ‘Gran Turismo’, ’FIFA 2000’, ’Forza Motorsport’ & ’Spider Man’, alike. Noko’s non-Apollo 440 previous includes work-outs with The Cure (bass), Pete ‘Buzzcocks’ Shelley (bass & guitar), with Howard Devoto in Luxuria & Magazine (guitar), and bass with Japanese superstar guitarist Tomoyasu ‘Kill Bill’ Hotei. Noko has also scored a number of feature films, notably French-language noir thrillers, ‘Une Affaire D’Etat’ and ‘La Proie’.
Mary’s previous includes vocalising for psychedelic-grebo giants, Gaye Bykers On Acid, industrial monsters, Pigface, and Black Country indie perennials, Pop Will Eat Itself. He even delivered on ‘Nervous’ with DJ Fresh and took it to #1 in the BBC Radio 1 dance chart. To this day, Mary fronts the Gaye Bykers & The Poppies, and like Noko, composes film scores & TV documentary soundtracks.
Mary & Noko on ‘Am I Dead Yet?’ inspirations & instrumentations :
Mary : ‘For me it’s pretty much all Leonard Cohen at the end of the day, with some residual David Bowie, Abba, Nick Cave, Scott Walker and Chico Buraque. Basically any important musician who’s recently dead. I’ve brought my new found voice and some basic piano playing and programming, Noko then transforms my crude doodling into something beautiful sounding with added bongos…’
Noko : ‘I never got over John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Serge Gainsbourg, Hank Marvin, Brian Wilson, the post-punk dystopia of Magazine, Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire and an awful lot of ‘70s progressive rock : King Crimson, Yes and Goblin. All of this stuff has a huge bearing on my contribution to our sound.’
‘As a 2-piece, I play pretty much all the instruments. Inevitably the computer forms the centre of our sonic universe, though guitar is at the core of it all. I do have a primal love for the bottom-end of a harpsichord though. What I’ve enjoyed playing most on our stuff is the bongos – I got an amazing pair for my birthday last year and haven’t looked back…’
2019 sees the international release of the album on CD and digital formats, on the Wire-Sound label (distributed worldwide via Cargo) plus live shows that reflect the sonic universe Noko & Mary have created. Like you’ve never quite heard them before…
Then eventually, apparently, we’ll all die…