Premiere: NOCON – ‘AGAG’

Words: James Frostick

Introducing NOCON – the new art-punk project from Jamie Timony and Jake O’Brien. As an introductory statement, the duo are releasing ‘AGAG’ today through Dinosaur City Records – a twisted and driving number showcasing the tandem’s knack for crafting engaging and purposefully unpolished noise.

Spontaneity is a tricky thing. On one hand, it’s great to be able to capture a lightning-in-a-bottle moment where everything clicks on the first go. Other times, latching on to an impulse sometimes precludes an idea from reaching its full potential. I’m always a big fan of tracks that don’t sound overwrought – I relish the risky immediacy of something created in a spur-of-the-moment frenzy, but I concede that it doesn’t always make for a great song, and it’s not something one is likely to pull off time and again. Thankfully, NOCON’s debut single ‘AGAG’ (that’s Any Goal’s A Gaol, for the acronym fans amongst you), captures the exciting feeling of a lightbulb moment, while also coming across as a fully realised idea –and a great song.

NOCON is the brainchild of Jamie Timony (These New South Whales and Mossy) and Jake O’Brien. The name – inspired by an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm in which Jerry Seinfeld calls Larry David a ‘nocon’ – means a non-icon, the opposite of a figure held in high regard. Perhaps they chose the name as a way of lowering our expectations, or maybe as a critique on the idolisation of artists and musicians, or maybe to reflect their own status as composers of outsider noise. Regardless, the two have crafted a slab of snazzy scuzzy punk that’s about as humble in its origins as any off-the-cuff bedroom recording, but with a sharper edge. ‘AGAG’ (which has been mixed and mastered by Party Dozen’s Jonathan Boulet) kicks off with a disjointed and distorted slink – a drawn-out guitar mewl and simple drum-machine snap that breaks out fully into a meaty and gritty sonic churn. Distorted YouTube samples and staunch vocals from the pair are added into the mix, creating a caustic blend of sound – as if disparate parts are rubbed together in order to get the friction scrape on tape. Although barely two minutes long, Jamie and Jake pack a lot of interesting ideas in. If there is more to come, I hope that it’s as immediate and as impressive as this debut.

Before having a listen, have a read of the chat I had with NOCON’s Jamie Timony to help get a sense of the duo’s initial spark of inspiration …

Let’s start at the beginning – where did the two of you first cross paths and what was the creative common ground that you connected on?
We first crossed paths on the Gold Coast growing up. We played in the same baseball team together when we were kids. Somewhere along the line my Mum was dating Jake’s Dad, so for a short time we were almost half brothers. I remember Jake showing me Late of the Pier as a teenager and it blew my mind. I think I showed him Idioteque by Radiohead for the first time.

At what point did the two of you first start discussing teaming up for a collaborative project, and what were some of the early ideas/sounds/energies you were both interested in capturing on tape?
We work in a storeroom together in Melbourne and listen to music all day. Jake tends to listen to a lot of trap and black metal at the moment and I’ve been listening to a lot of experimental pop and cloud rap. Where our interests really intersect is the hip hop stuff I’d say, but we both really connected over our love of The Garden a few years back, particularly their haha album and the u want the scoop? EP.
‘Art punk’ is the broad categorisation used to describe NOCON‘s aesthetic, but how would you break down the project’s current sonic palette further?
It’s pretty raw, DIY and minimal. We have a Roland TR-505 through a guitar amp which is our drum sound. As far as drum machines go, it’s pretty plain, doesn’t have a heap of character, but we wanted to work with the equipment we already have and keep it simple. We’re both on vocals. I’ve never played guitar before in a band and own no guitar pedals, but I run the guitar through a vocal processing pedal which I think sounds pretty cool.
How long was it from initial experimentation to something you were both happy with? Are the songs a product of spontaneous expression or was there a more considered tinkering process involved to get the sound you desired?
‘AGAG’ was very much a product of spontaneous expression. It came about very quickly. It was the first song we wrote in a rehearsal room and we recorded it the following week in Jake’s lounge room. It had another section initially but it sounded a little too tongue-in-cheek and made the song too long, so we deleted it and kept it simple.
Let’s talk ‘AGAG’ (Any Goal’s A Gaol) – what can you reveal about the lyrical inspiration behind this track? To me it seems to touch on the restrictive nature having a singular, all-encompassing focus. Am I close to the mark?
The lyrics again were a product of spontaneous expression. But I guess, upon reflection, the song is speaking to the idea of striving toward goals and questioning the value of the things we regard as important …
Where do you hope to take NOCON from here?

Hopefully we’ll put out an EP this year and play some shows once this virus disappears!

Wrap your ears around ‘AGAG’ – the first track from NOCON – out now through Dinosaur City Records: