January 4, 2016

AOTM: January – Belle Noire


Belle Noire after performing at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, CA.

San Jose’s Belle Noire have spent 2 years battling setbacks and quietly putting together their debut full-length album. We met with the guys before a show with Armor For Sleep to get an update on their release and talk about their DIY attitude.

CPF: How did you guys get started? I’ve heard there’s a story about Craigslist.

(Mike- Guitar) It all started in Sal’s parents garage. He and I started jamming without any major expectations.

(Joey – Vocals/Guitar) They were an instrumental band when I found their Craigslist ad. Talks were good and they sent me these really rough demos.

(Mike) They were home recordings.

(Joey) In my mind I was like “I dunno man..”

(Mike) So then we went to Castle Ultimate with Aaron Hellam.

(Joey) 6 months later I responded to a new Craigslist ad. Same guys.

What happened next?

(Joey) At the first practice I didn’t even do anything. I had nothing. I just kinda sat there. I wanted to hear them play. I didn’t want to invest anything yet. They had Sergio and Mike both playing guitar already, but I’ve never been comfortable being just a freestanding vocalist. I almost hide behind guitar a little bit.

(Mike) Originally we were just looking for a singer though.

(Joey) Yeah, so we all really liked this band called O’Brother that has 3 guitar players so I said “Hey, how would you guys feel if I played guitar too?” I think we all agreed that a third guitar could work. It started out with songs they had already written and I was trying to piece in tiny things. Just noodling really. When we finally started writing together it just evolved so well.

So working with an extra guitarist wasn’t so bad?

(Joey) It’s been a little bit of an adjustment in writing for all of us. We have to try not to step on each others toes and ignore the urge to dress up our own parts. We don’t care about that. The real question is: “Is the song good?” We try to use the 3 guitars to build a bigger sound. I hold down more of the rhythm and Mike and Sergio just go off around it.

In the past you’ve mentioned your DIY philosophy and how you don’t believe in paying for things like Facebook Likes. Can you explain why that is important to you guys?

(Joey) If we succeed or fail, I want it to be organic. I want to do it our way. If you see us onstage, that is who we are. We don’t want to portray some image or any bullshit.

(Mike) Exactly we don’t have an image. We started this to be ourselves and we want it to stay that way.

(Joey) If a label believes in us is gonna be because of who we are and how we are.

Speaking of labels, what’s going on there? Have you had any conversations with labels at this point?

(Sal – Drums) People seem to be interested!

(Joey) We’re trying to talk to labels. There are some actual talks going on with this record, and there’s actually fair amount of “hype,” if you will. It’s surprising and flattering to hear that we have interested parties. If a label wants to back us, that’s cool, but we’re also prepared to do it ourselves.

(Dan – Bass) I’m mostly worried about a label giving us a time constraint on what we do. Because we’re not very fast at it apparently.


That’s great news! What’s the status on the album that is reportedly taking forever?

(Joey) We’re onto mixing and mastering now. I’m pretty excited to say that I’ll have all the finals by the end of the year. That’s huge for us because the record has taken a lot of time. There’s been a lot of scheduling issues as well as hardships among our members.

(Mike) Financial issues, personal issues, the list goes on and on. It’s been a long recording process.

(Joey) We’ve gone through a lot of shit. A ton of personal obstacles. So yes, it’s taken forever, but it’s finally close.

Are you targeting a release date yet?

(Joey) The release date really depends on how label talks go. If they go well, I’m sure they’re gonna want a couple of things to help the release. If we go DIY it’ll be a little sooner.

What is the record called and who are you working with?

(Joey) The record is called What It Means To Be. I feel like it represents where we all are in our lives and the struggles we’ve all seen. Everything we’ve been through has brought us to this point. Lyrically, I’m putting a lot of the bad things behind me, meaning these will be the last songs I ever write about some of those topics. The album essentially says: “Here we are.” We’re also really proud to be working with Dryw Owens on this record. Aside from being probably one of the most talented producers ever, he’s become almost the sixth member of our band.

Dryw is definitely someone I keep hearing about. I’m really fond of a few albums that he’s worked on.

(Joey) Us too. He has been amazing to work with. Before he was a producer I was a huge fan of his band called Consider The Thief.

I really like what I’ve heard from What It Means To Be. Can’t wait to hear the rest!

(All) Thanks!


Listen to Belle Noire’s “Sleep” off of their upcoming record What It Means to Be.

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