December 12, 2006

Music Xtra: Ex-VHS or Beta guitarist makes People Noise

Zeke Buck, left, and Matt Johnson of People Noise.Here’s why you haven’t seen Zeke Buck in a while:Every day, the singer and guitarist for People Noise wakes up, turns on his computer, maybe plugs in an instrument and a microphone, and writes.He writes heavy songs, he writes light songs. He doesn’t get out much, but when he does, it’s usually to drop off recordings to his buddy, Matt Johnson.Johnson’s kind of a hermit, too. He was ready to dive into the home improvement business when Buck called.Now Johnson’s hooked. “I’ve never been this obsessed or enthusiastic about anything before,” he said.He drums forever on a farm out in rural Kentucky, not quite the middle of nowhere, but damn close. No Internet. No cell phone service. It’s very Unabomber.He studies Buck’s songs, learns the schemes, the twists, the changes. Then he sits down on a drum stool and begins laying the foundation, like a builder trying to make sure the house doesn’t collapse.When he’s done, Johnson returns the songs to Buck, who plays, edits, nips and tucks. “Matt’s been kind enough to let me steer the bus,” Buck said.He’s talking about songwriting, but sooner or later, these guys want to ride in a bus, not just steer one.Full blast“There’s so much lost time to cover,” Buck said. “Basically, I’m trying to start anew.”Hence the obsession. The preparation for what would become the songs People Noise started almost immediately after Buck parted ways with VHS or Beta, a group he played in for 10 years.Buck knew he wanted a sound — “not ’80s” — and he knew he wanted to sing. He had sung opera in his early teens, but he didn’t sing at all in VHS or Beta, and he missed it.Turley Richards was going to change that.Richards is a blind Louisville musician whose vocal range is practically limitless. But his real talent is enhancing the person, as well as the voice. It’s a good thing, too, because Buck was terrified, so he hired Turley to teach him how to sing all over again.“I really felt exposed,” Buck said. “(Turley) coached confidence. He was there to support me.”Later this month, People Noise starts recording its first album, Ordinary Ghosts. The songs cover everything from reincarnation to Buck’s thoughts about his former band.On stage, Johnson and Buck will be joined by Rahman McGinnis (guitar), Woody Woodmansee (keyboards) and Mike DuFresne (bass).Some labels have expressed an interest in the band by contacting the group via its MySpace page, and Johnson said the group is actively looking for a manager, and a booking agent, too.People Noise will probably start playing out locally in the spring, Johnson said. For those gigs, Buck said the band will basically “draw a perimeter around Louisville.” The shows won’t be anything elaborate, mostly smaller venues so the band can work out any kinks that might come up. “I miss the road so much,” Buck said. “It removes you from objects of desire, and you’re only left with yourself and your friends.”That’s ideal company. “I don’t know what to expect,” Buck said. “We’re gonna do it, and we’re gonna do it any way capable.” Contact the writer at mherron@leoweekly.com