Interview: Noughts and Exes

 

Local legends Noughts and Exes are calling it a day. Ahead of their final show, Douglas Parkes talks to frontman Joshua Wong to discuss the band's six-year career and why they're calling it quits 

When Noughts and Exes suddenly announced they were playing their final show on June 6 at The Vine, their Facebook page was inundated with messages from disappointed fans. Few local bands have had either the longevity of Noughts and Exes or their success, so the disappointment came as no surprise to anyone except, perhaps, the band themselves. With their last gig just days away, we sit down with vocalist and co-founder Joshua Wong to hear about the good times and why they’re calling it a day now.

How has the music scene changed since Noughts and Exes started six years ago?
I think the scene has got better. The level of musicianship has steadily gone up, and there are definitely some great bands now. The scene is exciting because it’s still growing. People aren’t playing to make a career out of music, and that’s fresh. People are doing it because they need to make music.

Why has the band chosen now to break up?
It can’t be a full time thing anymore. It gets to a point where it’s not exactly make or break... But you start considering your priorities. I got married 18 months ago and I was getting busier and busier. I decided if I wanted to have a family, something would have to give. Basically, a fair few of us don’t want to be a full time band anymore and no one wants to force things. It’s a very tough life. And it’s better to finish strong rather than fade away. 

What are the moments you’re most proud of?
There’re lots, but the best thing is we’ve had an excuse to come together. For me that’s the highlight. The good times are less the massive shows and more the good times we had together. That stuff I’ll miss.

How simple or difficult was the flashmob video for Hearts?
It was the least simple thing we’ve done. It was the most complicated five-minute gig we could conceive, but it was awesome. 

Did you just rock up at Times Square and that was it?
There was no arrangement with the property, and there was extra security that day. It reached a point where we were about to pack up and leave. At the last minute, I think Winnie said, “Look, if we’re gonna move on, let’s at least get kicked out and move.” So we went for it.

Is this a definitive final show or will you be back in 12 months?
Definitely not 12 months! I don’t doubt we’ll make music together again, just not in this incarnation.

The journey has been a worthwhile one though, right?
For sure. We got featured in Time magazine, we’ve flown all over the world playing music – and we were just messing around in our spare time. It’s been incredibly rewarding and a real blessing. 

What can fans expect of the band’s final show?

We’ll be doing a lot of stuff we’ve never done before. Songs none of us have ever played live before, stuff from every single album. We’ve got a lot of guests. It’ll be really cool and special. I hope it’s going to be an unforgettable night.

Do you think Noughts and Exes has a legacy?
That’s a big word! We’re not our own audience, it’s impossible to perceive how other people think of us. A ‘legacy’ is not why we play music. It’ll be a surprise to us if we have one.

Where do you go from here?
It’ll be nice to do stuff that doesn’t have a purpose. We didn’t start Noughts and Exes to accomplish anything. In fact we first started recording because of a competition we wanted to enter for fun. It was a Time Out competition! Time Out had a competition where if you submitted demos and won they’d pay for the recording of your album. So we just thought it was cool and decided to enter. It’s come full circle! But that’s why the idea of a legacy doesn’t register, because there was never an end game.

Noughts and Exes Sat Jun 6, The Vine Centre. Tickets: $180 (adv), $220; ticketflap.com.

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