By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Grafton – Noel Heroux, a 2000 Grafton High School (GHS) alum, now lives and works as a musician in New York City. He credits GHS music director Steve Trombley as a supportive mentor.
“At that point there were about 10 rock bands in the school,” he recalled. “Steve Trombley was always really cool about letting us do whatever we wanted. He was still very supportive even if our music was loud and crazy.”
Heroux’s musical interests began as a toddler growing up in South Grafton.
“I started playing songs that I heard on TV on the piano, so my parents got me a little keyboard,” he relayed.
Soon after, he found his father’s old guitar in the basement and attempted playing it. As a fifth-grader, he shared his musical interests with a classmate, Brian Warwick.
“We didn’t know how to play music yet, but we were going to start a band,” Heroux said. “Within the next year, Brian got a drum set and I started playing guitar more. We practiced in his basement and my garage.”
Their band performed at Worcester venues including Ralph’s Rock Diner and the now-defunct Espresso Bar. Heroux’s father drove him to some of those bookings. Other band members relied upon older friends with a driver’s license.
In between those city gigs, their band performed periodically at dances in the Grafton Middle School cafeteria.
“That was fun, playing in front of everyone in school when we were in the sixth grade,” he recalled.
Warwick now lives and works as an audio engineer in Los Angeles. He won a Grammy Award this year for his work on the “Weird Al” Yankovic album “Mandatory Fun.”
When Heroux was a GHS freshman, he joined a rock band led by then-senior Christopher Principe.
“I wanted to be in the hippest band in Grafton,” Heroux said. “I learned all their songs really quickly and played with that band through high school.”
After graduating from GHS, he moved to Boston and recorded music for which he played all the instruments. He also continued playing in bands with Principe including Hooray for Earth beginning in in 2005. Another band member was Gary Benacquista, who now lives in Shrewsbury.
Hooray for Earth performed in and around Boston.
“When we were in Boston we played at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, which seats about 500 people,” Heroux said. “That was exciting to be able to sell out a show there. It felt like we did what we could in Boston.”
The band ultimately commuted to NYC and back. Another reason for the commute was because Heroux’s longtime girlfriend and band member, Jessica Zambri, lives in NYC.
“One night we drove down to New York to play a show and when everybody went back up to Boston, I just stayed in New York with my girlfriend,” he explained. “We’re married now, so that worked out well.”
Though Hooray for Earth disbanded this past October, its Facebook page remains active.
“We didn’t make a big deal of it; we just played a final show and let it be,” Heroux said. “I just wanted to do things completely on my own.”
This past February, he performed with George Lewis Jr., better known by his stage name Twin Shadow, on “Late Night with David Letterman.”
“It was fun to talk with Paul Schafer and his band,” he said. “He complimented me on my weird homemade guitar, and Letterman was very pleasant.”
Heroux is currently recording an album.
“I wouldn’t call it solo because I’ll be hiring friends to play live,” he noted. “I’ve got good friends doing similar stuff.”