Man I dig these cats! I’ve been going on about them for a few years and one of my favorite shirts is the one they gave me at Bonnaroo a few years ago, even though I spilled bleach on it, I still sport it proud!
We’ve run a couple interviews with Chris and the Nocona gang and a few features over the years, but figured it was time to give youz guys a new introduction to one of my favorite West Coast rock bands…
Let’s get to know Chris Isom and Nocona’s music a little better. What attracted you to this western outlaw rock?
I started out just wanting to be a lead guitarist, my idols were Jimmy Page, Jimmie Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. I grew up in New York and my mom used to take us to broadway musicals all the time, I remember being around 10 years old when we went to go see little shop of horrors, it was off broadway and they had the drums in the pit close to the audience, that was the first time I’d ever heard live drums that loud and I was kind of obsessed with the sound the crash cymbals made. My cousins in Houston had a profound impact on my musical tastes as a kid, around the same time we visited them and they were into bands like The 13th Floor Elevators, R.E.M, The Who, Can, Kraftwerk, The Minutemen, Black Flag they seemed like gods to me and changed my musical universe forever.
Both my mom and dad are from Lubbock Texas and my dad listened to a bunch of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, the first concert I ever saw was Johnny Cash at Radio City Music Hall, I think I was around 13 or 14 and might’ve been more into Motley Crue at the time, but seeing that music played live really rocked my world and made trying to play music in a band a categorical imperative for me. When I was old enough to start going to shows the only logical choice for an underage new yorker was CBGB’s sunday hardcore matinee’s and “all ages” shows and places like ABC No Rio, Club Anthrax in Connecticut and various and sundry other rec centers and venues for budding new york hard core/underground bands (this is before “alternative” was a valid musical phrase). I basically spent my early adolescents worshiping bands on revelation records and dischord and was always a big thrash and death metal head, slayer, venom, exodus, metallica, celtic frost, kreator, possessed and on and on all of these bands were big deals for me but I also always listened to The Butthole Surfers, classic rock, “good” country like hank sr and blues, I also loved everything off of SST at the time.
I got burned out on playing in NY hardcore and underground bands and moved to texas during college. There I basically lived on records from Antone’s and ordered from Norton Records in new york, was also a big fan of the bands on In The Red and Bloodshot among others. My whole family is in Texas and I’ve always loved Texas music, Buddy Holly, Freddie King, Doug Sahm, Bob Wills, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt have always been huge heroes of mine and when I moved to Austin that stuff really kinda sank into my bones. I keep on evolving and listening to new stuff but I’m basically steeped in a lot of incongruous influences ranging from Locust Abortion to The Carter Family, I try not to deny any influence but just let it all in and see what comes out of it and accept it. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy but that’s the way it goes.
How long have you been making music? Have you been performing or sharing it with the public all that time?
I started playing guitar at around 14, I started writing my own songs almost immediately but they were terrible. I played my first show at 15 at a now closed place in New Rochelle called “Streets” opening up for a New York Hardcore band called Sucker Punch and a thrash band called “Aftermath”, My band was called “Spuyten Dyvill”.. We basically got boo-d off the stage.
Who or what influences your writing and performance?
Everything? Everyone? That’s a hard question, it depends what i’m going through or who I’m listening too, right now I’m kind of rediscovering some indian raga stuff that I haven’t listened to in a while, I’m really enjoying that so something will probably come out of it.
It seems all creative people go through rough patches or writer’s block of some sort. What motivates you to keep going?
I just recently heard a quote of some advice that bob seeger allegedly gave to joe walsh before he joined eagles when he was about to set out on his own. Walsh supposedly said to seeger “What if I start writing songs and their bad.” and bob said, “Well, their gonna be bad, you just have to keep on writing them.” That about sums up a lot of my attitude about writing, that and a quote from Bukowski where he said, “Unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it.” I’ve never had a doubt about that.
Were you trying to accomplish something different or specific with this project – creatively or otherwise?
I think I was trying to not go insane or at least try to take my insanity by the reigns and not let it destroy my soul.
What was the last song you listened to?
hmm.. actually, it was “Backseat” by Darker My Love off of “Alive as you are”
Do you prefer a certain medium for listening – vinyl, CDs, mp3, reel-to-reel, Pono,(lol sort of)?
I prefer listening to Vinyl but I listen to everything.
If you had to choose one place to host your music, would you prefer Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, or … ?
If i could just have our records put out on Vinyl and it be viable I’d do it but you have to exist in the digital world nowadays.
Do you ever feel as if your tunes are lost in a sea of music? What are one or two of the biggest challenges you face when trying to attract new listeners?
Yes, sometimes, music is basically free now, it’s hard to sell music in whatever medium, part of promoting your music on these mediums is a lot of payola and I think it always has been, yeah in someways the ubiquity of things like spotify and apple music and how they curate music helps some but I think it buries a lot of originality or primacy that used to seem to exist in new or “underground” artists.
Are you playing on live stages, clubs, bars, the local town picnic, festivals?
Yes, we have a bunch of shows planned, currently most are in the State of California you can see our schedule at http://noconamusic/tour
Do you ever stream your performances over the net? Where can music lovers see you perform?
We haven’t done that, we should probably start, usually in Los Angeles.
Can you share an anecdote or tale of woe or inspiration like a story about an out-of-touch club manager, your favorite fan interaction, broken busses, or you know… just some experience in your musical journey you’ll never forget?
We had the opportunity of playing the Roky Erickson Ice Cream social during south by southwest last year, it was a dream come true to be on the same bill as Roky, he’s always been a huge hero of mine.
What’s your favorite ice cream?
a 1979 volvo station wagon
Sailing yacht, catamaran, bass boat, or kayak?
Place on Earth you must visit some day
the marshall islands
Batman or Spiderman?
James Bond or Jason Borne?
Bugs Bunny or Anime?
Favorite beer or beverage of pleasure?
Pappy Van Winkles
Movie or book quote you are liable to drop at the wrong moment?
“You get nothing! You lose! Good day sir!” Gene Wilder
Left with a choice of one instrument, which would you keep?
Any last thoughts? Shout outs? Words of wisdom?
That shit that Sturgill Simpson said about the Merle Haggard award was righteous. Good on Sturgill.