Despite being a newcomer to town, Hayes Noble is already one of Spokane's most exciting rock voices

click to enlarge Despite being a newcomer to town, Hayes Noble is already one of Spokane's most exciting rock voices
Corrina Noble photo
Hayes Noble shredding out his feelings.

There's an unfortunate reality for fans of rock music who live in non-metropolises — if you have a local favorite band that's truly great, odds are they're probably gonna move to a bigger city to try to make it big. Spokane has long seen thriving local acts packing up for Seattle to give it a go. Heck, even when I was in Seattle some of the best bands moved to LA because they felt like the Emerald City wasn't big enough.

But you know something that almost never happens?

Seeing a top-flight musician move to Spokane.

Thankfully for us, Hayes Noble is an outlier... in more ways than one.

When Hayes Noble's 2023 album Head Cleaner first popped up on my radar, it was an extremely "Wait, where did this come from?" moment. The album is a fantastic blast of loud and fuzzy noise rock that called to mind everything from Dinosaur Jr. to Cloud Nothing to Bleach-era Nirvana. The album was the type of polished and lively noise rock that was worthy of national acclaim. "How did this come out of Spokane without me noticing at all?"

The answer to my internal query was simple — it didn't exactly come out of Spokane. In fact, it was crafted in Illinois, and Noble had only just moved to the Lilac City...

...along with the rest of his family...

...because he's a teenager.

Hayes Noble grew up in the small town of Galena, Illinois (close to the Iowa border) in a musical family, but with more edge than is often associated with that descriptor. His dad, Brett Noble, played in Midwest hardcore and screamo bands, and young Hayes recalls even going on the road as a little kid while his father was touring with his noise project, Gryphyns.

When Head Cleaner dropped in February 2023, Hayes was still finishing his senior year in high school. When his mom got a job out in Spokane and the rest of the family followed, the fresh graduate could have stuck to his initial plan to go to community college outside Chicago, but instead decided to join the rest of the Noble clan.

"I was about three and a half hours from Chicago on the Mississippi. Galena's a small rural town," Hayes says. "But just in terms of the way the town feels, I found Spokane to be very similar to the bigger towns in the Midwest, like the Quad Cities, where my parents are from. The neighborhoods have a very, very Midwestern feeling."

While he's still continuing his studies in audio engineering at Spokane Falls Community College, part of the calculus for the now-19-year-old musician moving out here was keeping the band together. While the act may bear his name, it's really a family band. The indie rock trio consists of Hayes singing and playing guitar, his 16-year-old brother, Everett, on bass, and their father, Brett, manning the drums.

As expected for a rock soul of his ilk, Brett helped shape his boys' musical tastes, with the young'uns being drawn to obvious noisy guitar-rock influences like Dinosaur Jr., Built to Spill and Hüsker Dü, but also to the hardcore sounds of Black Flag and Minor Threat, and mainstream favs like David Bowie and Hall & Oates. Everett took up bass to play with his big bro, but dad — who put aside his musical pursuits for family life — was always gonna be a jam partner, too.

"Once we got old enough, he saw that he could do stuff with us now," Everett says with a laugh.

"When I started playing, it started off with showing these parts to my dad. We just would just jam it out," says Hayes. "It just made sense to play with each other — we had 17 years of chemistry."

click to enlarge Despite being a newcomer to town, Hayes Noble is already one of Spokane's most exciting rock voices
Brett Noble photo
Noble has found his way in Spokane.

Now fully entrenched in Spokane and barely a year since the release of Head Cleaner, Hayes Noble is already entering his next chapter with the release of the new album As It Was, As We Were. From the opening blistering burst of frenetic sound on "Escape" (which calls to mind early Japandroids), the album finds Hayes exploring the always-messy feelings of coming of age in what seems like the middle of nowhere.

"A consistent theme throughout the record — hence the title, As It Was, As We Were — is growing up, moving on, moving out and stuff," Hayes says. "I was going through a lot of changes. All this shit started happening in the spring with my mom moving out here, my relationship that was falling apart, finishing high school, and all this stuff just sort of came to me. I definitely felt really inspired and kind of wrote a lot of that stuff in a short time period."

While tracks like "Nothing Else" and "Got Over It" touch on young love crashing and burning, there's a simple maturity to Hayes' songwriting that doesn't fall into the melodramatic traps many teenage rock lyricists struggle to escape. Because of that, his wall of guitar noise should translate just as well to grungy Gen Xers as it does to his fellow Gen Zers.

Recorded mostly live with a Steve Albini-esque ethos, the album doesn't lose the sense of clamorous rock energy that made Head Cleaner stand out. A track like "Comets" captures a sense of youthful confusion both lyrically and through a spiraling wall of heavy atmospheric tumult. "Nothing Else" stands out as one of Hayes' personal favs because of the way he blends together '80s college guitar rock sound with a '90s screamo-esque breakdown.

"I've always found loud music very emotional. It helps me release emotionally," Hayes says. "I think Head Cleaner was a little bit more abrasive punky noise stuff. I think my songwriting has definitely matured. I think it's cohesive... rather than just noisy."

Hayes has also quickly integrated himself as a driving force in the Spokane music scene. Before even arriving in town, he reached out to local acts like Puddy Knife, Pit, and Psychic Death to try to get a sense of the scene, and he was playing his first local gig at Neato Burrito soon after.

The only real downside for Hayes so far has been that so much of the Spokane musical infrastructure is cut off from him since he's still not 21 years old (many other states are more relaxed about all-ages shows happening at venues where alcohol is sold). Outside of the Big Dipper and Neato Burrito, there just aren't many consistent stages for teens to play.

"When I first got out here, it was tough because Washington's laws regarding all-ages shows are a lot more strict compared to the Midwest. But we've been able to get some cool shit going," he says.

As a result, Hayes and Everett have been trying to help build up a stronger all-ages scene (including Everett fervently passing out flyers in his classes at Lewis & Clark High School). As It Was, As We Were's album release show is an all-ages affair at nYne Bar & Bistro on Friday, June 21, with killer local support from Itchy Kitty and Loomer. It's also a tour kickoff show, as the Noble family is touring the new album through late July.

"When I'm back in Spokane, cool things are happening. We're really looking forward to expanding the scene," Noble says. "Lots of cool young bands are popping up. We've been able to do a lot of cool all-ages shows. And I think it's really important for us as a community to definitely keep pushing that. With Washington's restrictive all-ages show laws compared to where I grew up, it's a bummer that the youth aren't more involved."

For Hayes, bringing blissful noise to as many folks as possible is quite literally a Noble cause. ♦

Hayes Noble: As It Was, As We Were Album Release Show with Itchy Kitty, Loomer • Fri, June 21 at 6:30 pm • $10 • All ages • nYne Bar & Bistro • 232 W. Sprague Ave. •

Bachman-Turner Overdrive @ Northern Quest Resort & Casino

Wed., July 24, 8 p.m.
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Seth Sommerfeld

Seth Sommerfeld is the Music Editor for The Inlander, and an alumnus of Gonzaga University and Syracuse University. He has written for The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Fox Sports, SPIN, Collider, and many other outlets. He also hosts the podcast, Everyone is Wrong...