• Preview
  • Feature
  • Interview

INTERVIEW: Get to Know - Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs

Photo Cred: Nikki A. Rae

Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs are a new band to Cincinnati and they are doing big things! Hailing from Denver, the band is ready to play out as much as possible and make new friends along the way! Luckily for you, you have several chances to check them out in the next few weeks!

 It was great to chat with Matt Rouch to get to know Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs!

Give us the background on Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs…
So I moved to Denver in 2015 and wanted to start a band. I started playing open mics and met a couple guys and started a trio. None of us had real practice space and we all lived in tiny studio apartments. My girlfriend at the time actually had the largest space - an actual one-bedroom apartment! So she let us start practicing in her living room. When we would go outside for a smoke break during rehearsal people would come out of the apartments below her and ask "what's that noise upstairs?", sometimes in an excited way, sometimes in a frustrated way. We took that as sort of a badge of honor, so when it came time to name the band we went with Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs. When I moved to Cincinnati in 2022 I was still on an extended hiatus from music, it wasn't until the fall of 2023 that I actually started exploring some open mics in the area. I fell in love with MOTR and The Southgate House Revival and go there religiously for open mics. Those places do a fantastic job of fostering a community of musicians and their open mics are very well-run. I had heard that Cincy can be pretty cliquey, so I wasn't sure how I would be accepted as an outsider, but they were very welcoming and made me feel right at home. From there I started meeting musicians and the urge to start another band started to creep up in me. When we formed the band we decided to keep the old name since all of the previous music was published under that name and we'd be playing a lot of that old material for a while. I guess you just can't get rid of that ol' noise upstairs!

What can we expect at a live show?
 Our live shows are pretty straightforward, no gimmicks or theatrics, but we definitely try our best to catch your attention. I've always been a big fan of acoustic/string instruments so our main instrumentation includes a violinist, cellist, and upright bassist and drummer. They all do such a fantastic job of writing these incredibly beautiful and moving arrangements, that might be something different for folks to see these days. We're also sort of genre-less, we've been described as indie-folk, country, folk, bluegrass, you name it. Actually someone came up with the great term "y'all-ternative" and I think that's what we're going with. The natural reaction of most people when you tell them you play country is something akin to them throwing up in their mouths a little bit, because they're thinking of radio country. We're different. I've always tried to write really honest, heartfelt songs with catchy melodies and memorable lyrics. Also, what a lot of people don't realize is that, at least for me, so much of how a live show goes depends on the audience, we feel their energy on stage and if they're into it and engaged it really pumps us up!

Coming from Denver, how does the music scene differ from there?
 Denver is like another world, a couple of big promoters, like AEG and Live Nation, run all the venues there so it's a very corporate, structured system. Almost all venues are ticketed. They all keep very detailed records of how bands perform as far as the numbers of people they bring out. Once you get their attention, they offer a pretty formal path forward to playing bigger venues and opening for national touring acts. And the competition is crazy, they are phenomenal bands in almost every genre you can think of, and Coloradans are used to big acts coming out of their state, whether it's natives like The Fray and Nathaniel Ratliffe, or transplants like the Lumineers. Cincinnati is completely different, it's a face and handshake town, which is great, it's just all about the personal connections here. So I've been trying my hardest to get into the scene and meet as many people as possible. I like building a community and lifting everyone up, everyone wins if we're all pulling the rope in the same direction. Although, I've never lived in a city where there are so many DIY venues where bands are expected to run their own sound, sometimes even provide it, every venue in Denver has a professional sound system with a dedicated sound guy, I guess I was spoiled! My advice for bars/venues is that it's worth the investment to upgrade your sound system and pay someone to run sound and not put that on the bands. The main benefit for them being you'll attract bigger and better bands, and if those bands sound good on your system, people are more likely to stick around, if they stick around longer they're more likely to eat and drink more. Makes sense to me. Everyone wins in that scenario. But I really do love Cincinnati so far, and love all the venues I've gone to, I just think we can make this scene really thrive! There are so many talented musicians here!

What is next for Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs?
 Well we finally have our full band lineup set, I'm grinding away trying to book us as many shows as I can in the area. I'm also trying to grow our presence online and build up our profile. I take the business side of music very seriously, I think every musician has to these days, but it's also about the pure joy of music, this is a side hobby for all of us, we don't need the money, but I've played some amazing venues and I try to explain to people the feeling of playing in front of a thousand people, opening for major national touring acts, it's indescribable, what you feel on the stage in those situations, the energy is unreal, it's addicting. So our goal is to play out as much as possible, establish ourselves, and then in the fall/winter record an EP and release some new music. I'm incredibly excited about the new songs we've worked on as a group and excited to see where it goes and keep exploring this wonderful city.