The idea of "noise" as a form of audio art can be traced to the early-twentieth-century avant-garde. In the larger realm of music, the aesthetic of noise and its sound can be heard in the work of bands like Sonic Youth and newer acts like HEALTH. In Denver, noise is outside the realm and experience of even most underground musicians. It's something you still have to actively seek out; it's rare to experience it at a more conventional music venue.
John Gross has been one of the main collaborators in the noise group Page 27 for well over a decade. Todd Novosad, his partner in putting together the Denver Noise Fest, has been performing as Novasak since the dawn of the last decade. We spoke with the two about the inspiration for the fest, as well as the nature of "noise."
Westword: What inspired the Denver Noise Fest, or least an event like that, on this scale?
Denver Noise Fest, 6 p.m. Friday, April 30, 3 p.m. Saturday, May 1, Old Curtis St. Bar, 2100 Curtis Street, over 21 $10-$15/under 21 $15-$20, 303-292-2083.
Todd Novosad: I'd say No Fun Fest.
John Gross: It's a festival in New York City. It started in Brooklyn. We're really lucky that Carlos Giffoni, the organizer of No Fun Fest, is playing this festival. It's the event that's sort of the template for what we're trying to do. I don't think it's going to be exactly like that, but it, and other noise fests throughout the country, are an inspiration, too.
The last time I can think of something like this happening here in Denver would have been the Atonal Festival that J. Frede put on several years ago, and that was a great event. If we can make it an annual thing — we want it to be a destination, even, so people can plan ahead and wonder what's happening next year and get stoked.
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What is "noise"?
JL: That's like opening a can of worms; that's almost a whole other interview. There isn't going to be any guitar, bass and drums, 4/4 predictable music. It's not for everyone. The thing that I can't stress enough is that there are going to be a lot of people who aren't going to like it. We know that and embrace it.
That's kind of what this is about. There's a certain person who's going to hate this or won't understand it. We're not trying to be exclusive and tell certain people not to come; we want people to come who are curious or haven't been to this sort of thing before. As much as this "genre" or "style" is getting more popular, it's never going to be something that they play on the radio.
TN: It's nothing you can ever really describe, either, because it's always changing.