Part Time Records has released Mike Noga's fourth album Open Fire. Open Fire was recorded in August 2019 at Sacred Heart Studios in Duluth, Minnesota with Alan Sparhawk (Low) in the producer's seat. Open Fire is an apocalyptic, synth-heavy, rock and roll record and follows on from Noga’s critically acclaimed concept album, King.
Mike Noga passed away on 26 August 2020. His death was accidental and attributed to a rare condition that caused a cerebral haemorrhage, a condition exacerbated by bouts of heavy drinking. Mike had a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression which became particularly difficult in the last three years of his life. His family are incredibly proud of this album, for its ambition, beauty and nuance. His passing has left his family and friends with a massive void that might be partly filled with his incredible body of music. A gift to us all.
Open Fire was written in Noga's hometown of Hobart. Writing to a friend during the recording process Mike reflected “Sonically and thematically there’s a healthy dose of impending doom about the state of the world running through the songs…I constantly have the Velvet Underground in mind when I'm writing for this album. Pop... but with a weird, dark twist.”
The album features the recently released lead single and centrepiece of the album 'Open Fire' - a big Springsteen-esque rocker. A little bit about revenge, a lot about the impending end of the world.
"I've spent the last two years writing this album and it's an absolute dream come true to get to work with one of my songwriting heroes, Alan Sparhawk. Alan's unique style and penchant for twisting music and words into beautiful and uncomfortable forms is the perfect fit for this batch of songs. It also doesn't hurt that he's one of my favourite vocalists, guitar players and lyricists in the world and has offered to lend his incredible voice to the album".
Noga and Low toured Europe, Australia and New Zealand together in 2016 and became friends, with Sparhawk offering to produce Noga's next album in his hometown of Duluth, Minnesota.
Reflecting on the experience Alan Sparhawk said, ”Mike reached out. When people say they are reaching out most of the time they’re really holding in and wanting something but, for Mike reaching out was a giving and vulnerable gesture. I had seen him play before but our first meeting was on a tour where that common shared timeline carves deep and eternal friendships grow quickly. Mike’s eye for style and the relentless heart he put into every song inspired us, while his generous friendship and vulnerability made us stronger people. Plans were made. Mike had all these songs figured out; how he wanted them to sound and what needed to be done to achieve that so, once he’d arrived in Duluth work went fast. He put in long hours, pushed through doubt, worked out glitches and found the transcendence he so desperately hungered for, all the while sharing and inviting us into the journey. I feel we were witness to magic and for a moment Mike found a way to unravel the message he had held so tightly clutched in his hand. A true talent, gentleman and champion.”
Mike Noga on Open Fire - “It was a long and at times difficult process this one. I’m actually just proud of myself for being able to write another album’s worth of material, even if it did take years! I’m super proud of this album. I think it’s the best I’ve ever done. My global warming, apocalyptic, mid-life crisis album. Wooo! I was surprised on listening back at how much I mention “when I was young” or reference being young. I didn’t realise it when writing it. It’s always interesting to me when the album reveals itself and even I realise what the over-arching theme is. The subconscious is a powerful thing. I totally love Alan’s production. His stamp is all over this album and it feels like the next logical step for me after King.”
“There was nothing quite like watching Mike unleash his talent and creativity, whether he was brandishing a pair of drumsticks or a guitar or a mic stand, he did it all with total abandon and it was always a total pleasure to get lost in the music with him. As a songwriter, Mike was every bit as bold and uncompromising and 'Open Fire' is the sound of an artist with no limits to his ambition or scope. It's a big widescreen album, full of darkness and full of light, and it's a beautiful thing to get lost in.” – Paul Dempsey, Something for Kate