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From punk to piano

When young punk band Sit Down In Front take the stage to rock out their original songs, drummer Rikki Noble power-hammers the living daylights out of his skins.

So for many it will come as a surprise to learn the piano is his main instrument.

“I play punk and I play classical piano,” he says.

“It’s quite a contrast.”

Having built up a modest repertoire, and recently sat his Associate of the Trinity College of London (ATCL) exam, Rikki makes his solo piano debut for an audience of family and friends at arts patron Jack Richards’ Wainui home, Tiromoana, next month.

The piano is not normally heard in punk music but has Sit Down In Front ever tried introducing the instrument to Classical’s anarchic cousin?

“We considered it a year or so ago as a fun thing to include but it didn’t happen,” says Rikki.

His mother introduced him to piano when he was eight or nine years old and he has since taken private lessons. Right now, he is tutored by Gisborne piano teacher Coralie Hunter.

“I find piano interesting,” he says.

“The community, competitions and exams — there’s always a goal to work towards. Playing piano has helped me learn drum rhythm stuff and hand co-ordination.”

At home he practises on a Yamaha electric piano, a Kawai ES10 digital piano (which comes with a range of instrumental effects) and occasionally plays the grand piano at Tiromoana. Rikki also plays guitar and, of course, drums.

“We didn’t go into forming a band with a particular genre in mind,” he says of Sit Down In Front’s chosen path.

“It just happened to be punk.”

With three albums, two music videos and support performances for top rock acts already behind them, the genre has proved a good fit. While there is no piano in there, the experimentation continues.

“I’ve just started with jazz,” says Rikki.

“I’ve been teaching myself.

“Anthony Wright (Boys’ High music teacher) has been playing jazz his whole life. He’s a guitarist. Jackson and I sometimes play a little jazz guitar with Anthony.”

Jackson is Jackson Clarke, Sit Down In Front’s guitarist.

“I pick up some jazz chords and extensions and put them into piano,” says Rikki.

“It’s something I’m not used to. Classical is all about playing all the notes in a piece. Jazz is more about experimenting and doing your own thing. You improvise on what you’ve learned.”

Rikki sees himself pursuing his vocation and is open to possible pathways.

“I will definitely do something music related,” he says.

“There are a whole lot of new avenues towards jobs out there which is really exciting.”

OF PIANO AND PERCUSSION: Punk band Sit Down In Front’s drummer Rikki Noble tells the Guide about his first instrument, the piano, and his upcoming solo debut. File pictures