Noise 292 was the short-lived but influential creation of young San Diegans attending UCSD. In its tumultuous 18-month gigging life, the band connected the North County and downtown alternative scenes, created a venue for underground music at UCSD, and influenced later musical innovators such as Crash Worship.
The core songwriters for the group — Kristin Martin, David Rives and Matthew Rothenberg — met during their freshman year. Matthew and Dave had attended San Dieguito High School in Encinitas and played in cover bands together. Kristin was down in the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego; she had played in Lemons Are Yellow with future Answers guitarist Dave Fleminger.
The group's sound was inspired by a combustible mix of influences, including the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, and Joy Division.
To add a postindustrial edge, the founders took the then-novel step of introducing trash percussion: a 40-gallon oil drum, steel pipes, even a barbeque grill. The role of percussionist was filled in quick succession by two successive San Dieguito students: first Hobie Hodge, who was quickly replaced by his friend Wendell Kling.
The definitive Noise 292 lineup was completed by drummer Joanne Norris (formerly Madame Gargoyle of the Injections). Joanne's insistent tribal beats (she played without cymbals) proved the ideal complement to Wendell's trash percussion.
Noise 292 fell in early with the Answers and played its first show at the Che Cafe in May 1983 with that band. In quick succession, the bands encountered Carlsbad's Hair Theatre as well as SD's Wallflowers and Poway’s Rockin' Dogs; these “Che Underground” bands went on to play many gigs at the Che as well as other venues.
The Noise 292 shows of 1983 and 1984 broke important ground. The mixed-gender, transgressive band (Joanne wore bondage gear and Wendell, a dress, to the group's gig with Paisley Undergrounders the Three O'Clock!) alternately entertained and horrified North County and downtown, straight and gay, mod and punk audiences.
Kristin's departure in early 1984 cost the band an important source of focus and songwriting talent; it inaugurated a gradual dissolution, and Noise 292 played its last show on Halloween night, 1984.