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Saturday 7 December 2019

Insider Interrogation: Bell X1 frontman Paul Noonan

The Bell X1 frontman faces the interrogation in order to chat about his new project.

Paul Noonan
Paul Noonan

In conversation with Eamon Sweeney

Profession: Singer

What are you promoting today, and why?

I'm promoting my new project Printer Clips. It's a bit of a midlife crisis really. Instead of a Porsche, I got myself a duets record. Bell X1 is just too much man and I had to temper it slightly. It was getting too testosterone-fuelled, so I've gone and made a more delicate affair. I've been lucky enough to play drums with Gemma Hayes and Cathy Davey and I've collaborated with Lisa Hannigan. I've always loved singing with girls. There's something about a duet that is much, much more than the sum of its parts.

What is most rewarding about your life?

I remember first falling for music when I was a kid and it having the most profound effect on me. We occasionally get letters from people from around a similar age for whom we are that band. That to me is the most rewarding thing about what we do.

Why do you do what you do for a living?

At this stage, I don't think I could do anything else. When I left college, my parents were a little freaked out by me diving headlong into the arms of music rather than my chosen academic field, which was computer engineering. When we did The Late Late Show for the first time they stopped worrying. That seemed to be the marker for them that it was all going to be OK from there on in. I've always rather facetiously wanted to be a lighthouse keeper. I stayed in one recently on the north coast of Antrim. It was amazing.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My unfortunate tendency to second guess and overthink things.

What's the rumour about you that's bothered you the most?

That I was somehow Damien Rice's bitch.

It's Sunday night, you're curling up to watch TV for the night. What's on your DVR?

I was mad into Enlightened with Lauren Dern for a while. I'm making my way through Game of Thrones and House of Cards, which is compelling viewing, but a little bit negative so a weekly dash of The Savage Eye tempers that a bit.

What's the most shamefully uncool album you own?

Most of them fall into the so-bad-it-might-be cool-again spectrum, but probably Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi.

Who is your best friend?

My wife Amy.

Do you like being well known?

I do because mostly when I do get stopped on the street, it is by people who love our music and it's done them some good. It's slightly surreal, but very positive and ultimately that can only be a good thing.

First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday’s Irish Independent

What drives you on a daily basis?

I don't feel like I've made it yet. I don't know if I ever will, but hunger is important. I get up every day and go to work and try to write good songs. I've a writing space in the National Concert Hall that I use with singer-songwriters Cathy Davey and James Vincent McMorrow as well as The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. I get in most days and put in the hours, even though I might just be staring out the window for a while.

Who is your hero?

I don't really have a hero as such, but there definitely are a lot of people I admire in music. There are also people we've worked with in Oxfam Ireland that I really admire.

What makes you emotional?

Since I've had kids, absolutely anything and everything! Most of it is emotional pornography, but even stuff like John Lewis ads at Christmas or Anne Doyle reading her last ever news bulletin. I actually wrote a song about what makes people cry on the last record called Motorcades. The Venezuelan national anthem gets me going for some reason.

What's your favourite day of the week?


Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I think it might be a bit early for the lighthouse, but I'd like to retire there at some point. I'd like to make a few more records. The most important thing would be if the thrill is still there. If the the thrill is there then everything will be fine.


1991 – Drummer for Juniper

1998 – Vocalist for the newly formed Bell X1

2006 – Third album Flock becomes the band's first number one

2014 – Releases a duets record Printer Clips

Printer Clips play the National Concert Hall on May 24. Bell X1 play Forbidden Fruit on May 31 and Westport Music Festival on June 29. Printer Clips is out now.

First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent

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