Norman Fisher-Jones

Norman Fisher-Jones
Birth name Norman Fisher-Jones
Also known as Noko, Noko 440
Origin Bootle, Lancashire, England
Genres New Wave, Indie rock, Gothic Rock, Post-punk, Electronica, Dubstep, Drum and bass, Film Soundtrack
Occupations Musician/Composer/Producer
Instruments Guitar, bass
Years active 1980–present
Associated acts Alvin The Aardvark & The Fuzzy Ants, The Cure, The Umbrella, Pete Shelley, Luxuria, Apollo 440, Stealth Sonic Soul, Fast (band), Maximum Roach, James Maker, Noko 440, Magazine
Website MySpace: Noko 440
Notable instruments
with Apollo 440 : Parker Fly Classic & Parker Fly Deluxe and 1962 Fender Stratocaster guitars
with Magazine : Yamaha SG 1500
with Luxuria : 1962 Fender Stratocaster, Ovation Breadwinner & 1967 Eko violin electric 12-string
with Maximum Roach : 1980 Gretsch White Falcon
with Raw Chimp : Tokai Talbo
with Frankenstein : Gibson Chet Atkins Country Gentleman
with The Umbrella : 1962 Fender Stratocaster & Ovation Breadwinner

Norman Fisher-Jones (born Bootle, Liverpool, England)[1] also known as Noko, is an English multi-instrumentalist musician, composer and producer, has formed and/or played with a number of bands primarily as a guitarist or bassist. In chronological order they were: Alvin The Aardvark And The Fuzzy Ants, The Umbrella, The Pete Shelley Group, The Cure, Luxuria, Apollo 440, Stealth Sonic Soul, Fast, Maximum Roach, James Maker and Noko 440 (also known as Frankenstein), Magazine and Raw Chimp. He continues to play with Apollo 440, Magazine and Raw Chimp.



In 1980, he formed his first band called Alvin The Aardvark & The Fuzzy Ants, who made their first gig on After All That…This, a Granada TV show. Despite the DJ John Peel being a fan of their music, they never released any material, recording only an unreleased single at Open Eye Studios, in Liverpool, in 1981, before disbanding the same year.

In 1983 he became involved with three bands. He joined The Cure as bassist, playing for some European and UK live–TV dates, and formed two bands, Dynamo Futurista and The Umbrella. The latter group, consisting of Noko (guitar and vocals), Simon Hoare (drums), Mark Sanderson (bass) and James Gardner, released a total of three songs before folding, which were released on an EP called Make Hell (For The Beautiful People).

In early 1984, he rejoined The Cure as bassist, that time as replacement of Phil Thornalley, who was not available. The same year, he was seen in Pete Shelley's The Pete Shelley Group, on bass, replacing Barry Adamson, who left to join Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, and then again in 1986 on guitar in a later line-up of the group until the association with the ex-Buzzcocks member got Noko the attention of Howard Devoto. There are many myths ranking around how exactly the first meeting took place, ranging from absurdly comical to realistic, most of which were distributed freely in interviews by the two themselves, but regardless which of these holds truth, the two came together to form the band Luxuria in 1986.[citation needed]

Founder Buzzcock and Magazine frontman, Howard Devoto, started writing with Noko in 1986 with a view to putting a band together to play Factory Records' Festival Of The 10th Summer at G-Mex stadium in Manchester that summer to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Punk. They played a short set as Adultery, borrowing backline from The Smiths. (Noko also played a set with Pete Shelley at the same gig in a line-up that also included ex Magazine drummer John Doyle).

The line-up for that one Adultery gig was: Howard Devoto - Voice, Noko - Guitar/Viola, Leroy James - keyboards/Guitar, Simon Hoare - drums, Pete Kinski - bass. Signing to Beggars Banquet in 1987 and deciding on the name Luxuria, Devoto and Noko released two LPs: Unanswerable Lust (1988) and Beastbox (1990) and toured Europe and USA throughout 1988 with a line-up of Devoto and Noko on voice/guitars and viola as usual and Karl Leiker - bass, Mark Rowlett - Drums/Sequential Studio 440, James Gardner - Keyboards, Frog - guitar and keyboards. The final Luxuria gig at The Town & Country Club (now the London Forum) in London featured cameo appearances by Barry Adamson (bass) on a rendition of Magazine's "The Light Pours Out Of Me" for an encore, and Morrissey, who read a passage of Marcel Proust's "A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu" over the intro of "Mademoiselle" before throwing the tattered book into the crowd as the band kicked into the song. (There is a bootleg recording of the gig in circulation).

When Luxuria folded in 1990, Noko got together with school friends, brothers Trevor Gray and Howard Gray, and James Gardner and formed Apollo 440.

The band released a number of singles and EPs on their own StealthSonic Recordings label: "Lolita" (1990), "Destiny" (1991), "Blackout" (1992) and "Lolita/Destiny '92" (1992).

Apollo 440 made four albums: Millennium Fever (1995), ElectroGlide In Blue (1997), Gettin' High On Your Own Supply (1999), and Dude Descending A Staircase (2003) on Sony Records. The band have been playing live in one form or another since their inception in 1990 to the present day and chronologically the touring line-ups are as follows: 1990–1992: The band featured all founding members on keyboards, sequencers and drum machines and MCs Stevie Hyper-D and Tigga-Max guesting from time to time on vocals.

1993-1995: James Gardner left for New Zealand where he has since established himself as a prominent composer writing music for his ensemble 175 East. Noko moved over to electric guitar and lead vocals, Trevor Gray on keyboards, Howard Gray on bass, and ex-Modern Eon drummer Cliff Hewitt was added to the line-up first on electronic, then onto acoustic drums. (Kenny Cougar briefly replaced Rej on bass during 1999).

1996-2000: Noko - guitar, Trevor Gray - keyboards, Howard Gray - vibe controller/live-mix, Cliff Hewitt - DDrums, Paul Kodish - drums, Reinallt Ap Gwynnedd - bass, Mary Byker (ex-Gaye Bykers on Acid) - lead vocals, Harry-K - DJ/vocals. Simeon Bowring from A1 People replaced Rej on bass for a number of European festivals in 2000.

2007–2008: Noko - guitar, Trevor Gray - keyboards, Howard Gray - vibe controller/live-mix. Cliff Hewitt - drums, Reinallt Ap Gwynnedd - bass, Ewan MacFarlane - lead vocals, Ashley Krajewski - MPC/keyboards.

2008–present: Chuck Sabo briefly replaced Cliff Hewitt on drums in 2008 (and again in 2009) as Cliff had touring commitments with German artist Schiller; Steve Barney did the same in early 2010 and Mikey Cusick (who had previously played with Noko in Maximum Roach from 2004–2005) replaced Rej on bass in 2008 and remains the current Apollo 440 bassman.

The current 2010 Apollo 440 touring line-up: Noko - guitar, Trevor Gray - keyboards, Howard Gray - vibe controller/live-mix. Cliff Hewitt - drums, Mikey Cusick - bass/vocals, Ewan MacFarlane - lead vocals, Ashley Krajewski - MPC/keyboards/vocals.

2004 saw Noko in a two-man band with James Maker which was at first called Frankenstein, but was later renamed to James Maker and Noko 440. The band released only one EP via Morrissey's Attack imprint (I'm Unbearable/Born That Way) and the two musicians parted early 2005 after touring with a full band line-up on Morrissey's European and UK dates including his Meltdown at the Royal Festival Hall supporting the newly reformed New York Dolls. That line-up included Paul Kodish on drums, Simeon Bowring on bass, and Ashley Krajewski on keyboards.

In November 2008, Noko was announced as the guitarist of the reformed Magazine, joining his former collaborators Howard Devoto, Barry Adamson, John Doyle and Dave Formula.[2]

In February 2009 the band played a handful of concerts across the UK. It was the first time Magazine had played live together since 1980. The "Real Life & Thereafter" shows sold out quickly and received widespread critical acclaim.[citation needed]

In Summer 2009, Magazine played "The Soap Show: Episode 2009" at the Royal Festival Hall. It was shown in two halves, the first of which was The Correct Use Of Soap LP in its original running order followed by the B-sides and the song "Upside Down" which had never been performed live before. They also played selected European festivals with a set culled from the "Real Life & Thereafter" tour.

The band rounded off the year's activities with appearances on BBC TV's "Later - with Jools Holland" and The BBC Electric Proms.

Magazine have released a brand new live DVD and CD, Real Life & Thereafter: Live at Manchester Academy 17.02.09.

2009 also saw the completion and release of Noko's first full movie score. Une Affaire D'etat, a French-language political thriller based on best-selling novel Nos Fantastiques Années Fric by Dominique Manotti was directed by Éric Valette and stars André Dussollier, Thierry Frémont and Rachida Brakni. European cinema release was in October of that year. A soundtrack CD is available on Milan Musique. Noko is currently working on the score to Éric Valette's new movie "La Proie" which will be in cinemas in early 2011.

2010 also saw the formation of Raw Chimp with Noko (guitar/vocals), his wife Deborah Fisher-Jones (bass), and Constance Kaler (lead vocals). Raw Chimp played their live debut that same year at the Download Festival.

Other appearances

The nature of the Apollo 440 remix and production process means Noko has played on too many records by other artists to list usefully here.

StealthSonicSoul was an alter-ego spin-off project by the three members of Apollo 440. One release "StealthSonicSoul" came out in 1992 on Scottish 23rd Precinct affiliated Limbo label. A further track "StealthSonic Sun In Her Hair" appeared on a Limbo compilation the following year.

The EZ Drum & Bass Orchestra consisted of Noko and Frederick Pasquan and made one commercially available EP "Beat Girl" b/w "EZ Beat Girl" and "Slow Beat Girl" on the Sliced label in 1996.

The Duo also remixed a number of other artists e.g. "Carrerra Rapida -EZ Drum&Bass Orchestra Remix" by Apollo 440 on Sony in 1997.

Noko played bass in 1991 on the Total Abandon EP and "Jubilee Twist" LP in 1992 by The Heart Throbs, a group from Reading who folded in 1993.

In the same year he played abstract guitar on the song Ventriloquists and Dolls from Momus's album Hippopotamomus.

In 1992 Noko collaborated with Stuart Crichton as Johnny Potatohead, releasing a single, "Johnny Potatohead" on Reverb Records.

From 2002-2004 Noko was involved as Producer/Musical Director for The Prada Meinhof Gang, an all-female Art-Terrorist troupe active between 2002–2004, whose activities included performance/installations at the Venice Biennalle, Tate Britain, ICA etc. Their track "Want Is Your Master" was included on the free CD compilation that accompanied the 'Music' issue of Modern Painters magazine.

Noko made his feature-film debut with a brief cameo appearance as an accordion-playing Parisian street musician in Éric Valette's "Une Affaire D'Etat" movie in 2009.


For Apollo 440 live, throughout the late '90s Noko used the following guitars: a green Parker Fly Classic, a blue Parker Fly Deluxe and a pink Fender 1962 reissue Stratocaster through a pair of Digitech 2112 rack FX units, an '80s Roland GP-8 and Fender Twins, but whilst the guitars remain the same,the preamps have been upgraded to Digitech GSP 1101 units with Control 2 foot controller through either a Marshall JCM2000 TSL through a Marshall 1960AX 4x12" cab or a Marshall EL34 50/50 power-amp and a pair of 4x12"s [3]

While he was touring with Magazine in 2009, Noko used a pair of green Yamaha SG1500 guitars with an MXR dyna comp, MXR flanger, Boss DM-3 and Boss PS-5. The flanger was stand-mounted as per John McGeoch and Robin Simon's setup with the band in the late '70s.[4] For amplification, Noko used two late '70s Marshall JMP 2x12" combos with Marshall 4x12'cabinets and a Fender Twin. A Variax 700 Acoustic was used for the intro of "I Want To Burn Again" through another late '70s MXR flanger.


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