Frontman Charlie Fink on writer's block, film directing and the new album
Ashley Clements

11:21 15th April 2013

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After almost 18 months spent writing and recording their new album Heart of Nowhere, indie-folk quintet Noah and the Whale are back and better than ever. Not only have the ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’ returned with an accomplished new album about the importance of friendship, they return with a short film titled Teenland which has been directed by the band’s lead singer Charlie Fink.

We sat down with Charlie to discuss Noah and the Whale’s forthcoming album, festival experiences and the thinking behind releasing a feature film to run alongside Heart Of Nowhere...

Hi Charlie. What can fans expect from the album? How do you think this album differs from your previous records?
The new album was recorded live to tape and it’s roughly about the end of adolescent, young friendships and that kind of thing. I’m excited for people to hear it. This is our fourth record and the last three have all been pretty different. I think my main goal for this one was to find something that brought it all together and make something that incorporates everything we’ve done.

Would you say this album saw the whole band collaborate more than on previous records?
This is definitely our most collaborative record. In the past the way it’s worked is I’d come with a song and we’d develop the arrangement, but with this album I’d come with an idea and we’d turn that into a song together. Tom (violinist) had a verse that he brought to me and I had a chorus that went with it. It’s really exciting for me to be more collaborative and it’s a much more enjoyable experience.

Watch Noah and the Whale’s video for ‘There Will Come A Time’ below

You've stated previously that this was a tough album to write. What made it so tricky?
The rest of the band were very eager to make another record because they just love playing so much. Initially the songs weren’t there and I think it takes a while to put yourself in a mindset when you’re open to songs coming. I read that Brian Eno likes to clean his studio before he starts to write. I think it was the same thing for me. When we first started playing together I wasn’t ready to write a song. It was just a bit of playing together and searching for what it was that was worth expressing. I guess part of it was searching for what about my life is worth telling someone.

What was the thinking behind creating a film to go alongside the album?
I’ve done a couple of things like it before, but this is the first time its been such a narrative piece. It was more the idea of doing a film and record together, but once I’d broken into what the album was about It opened up ideas about where the film could go. I had a couple of songs before I started writing the film and the two just ended up as being written in parallel. They both really inform each other and when you get to dead end with a song you can go and work on the film for a bit.

Is 'Teenland' something you could ever see really happening?
The film is about friendship and I think all sci-fi that I really like are used to tell another, human story. ET is a story about divorce that has an alien in, Let The Right One In is a love story that happens to have a vampire in it. It’s that same kind of thing. It’s looking for an interesting environment to tell a coming of age story.

Did you feel separated from society as a teenager growing up?
I think you and your friends do feel like that. You feel like that world you’re in with your friends is the only one that matters. The song that inspired the film was a song called ‘Lifetime’ which is about my friends that I used to spend whole summers with got engaged recently and it’s the realisation that that world is over. News is something you don’t care about at that age and you don’t really know what else is happening.

Do you think people who struggled in their teens tend to grow into stronger adults?
I think that’s true. They are your formative years and even though you don’t know who you are as a person. The seeds are there and it’s when you start making your own decisions. You also start to form groups and in any age of life people assign themselves positions. Whether its friendships groups or in business, people adapt to fit certain roles. I don’t think you really pick the people you hang out with. You go to school and you have to find friends there, you’ve got nothing in common apart from the fact you’re in the same classroom.

What kind of character were you at school?
I kind of drifted around a lot. I never really maintained the same friends for a great deal of time. For me, it’s when I started playing guitar and being in bands that I started to have my own identity. I think one of the things that starts to define you is the music you listen to or the films you watch. I remember it was such a big deal to go to a show and where that bands next t-shirt the next day. It’s like your flag.

The album has a theme of friendship running through it. Who are your best friends in music? Is there anyone in the music industry you wish you could be friends with?
I’m really lucky that the band get on incredibly well. I know there’s a lot of bands that don’t get on so well and I don’t know how they do it. All that time on the road in such close proximity must be crazy. I feel fortunate that we’ve had quite a lot of good friends. The Vaccines are a band we hang out with quite a bit.

I’d love to be David Lynch’s best mate. He just seems like such an interesting guy. Our manager looks after Lykki Li and apparently they did a songwriting session together. He’s just such a cool dude. He’d be a good person to be pals whether.

Can we expect to see you at any festivals this summer?
We’re doing T in the Park. We’re headlining Wilderness which will be really cool because it’s like a mixed arts festival. Empire of the Sun and Rodriguez are doing the other days. I think we are going to show the film there and a few other bits.

We are doing a bunch of film screenings before then and we’ve got a residency in London’s Palace theatre. I guess we are in the position now where we can think about what we wanted to do with the shows. It seemed like a really cool idea and you get to stay at home, so we’re just being lazy basically. The idea of showing the film in a proper theatre seemed like a cool opportunity.

Apart from the release of the album, what's your main goal for the rest of 2013?
I guess I'm really excited about sharing the film with people. We want to take that to film festivals and music festivals. Touring is going to be exciting and I’d like to have enough time to dedicate to working on some more film ideas. I think we are in a really cool position in the moment with music. It’s really interesting and cool the way you can share music between you and your fanbase. The internet is great for connecting with your audience and we are being a bit more creative with the way we tour is a really cool position to be in.

Thanks Charlie. Heart Of Nowhere will be available from May 6, 2013.

Noah And The Whale make their live return with the following UK dates:

Sat 27 April Bournemouth, O2 Academy
Sun 28 London, Palace Theatre (Month of Sundays Residency)
Wed 1 May Bexhill, De La Warr Pavillion
Thu 2 Liverpool, Sound City (Headlining)
Sat 4 Warwick, Arts Centre
Sun 5 London, Palace Theatre (Month of Sundays Residency)
Sun 12 London, Palace Theatre (Month of Sundays Residency)
Mon 13 Manchester, Opera House
Sun 19 London, Palace Theatre (Month of Sundays Residency)
Thu 23 Hay, Hay-On-Wye Festival
Sun 11 August Wilderness Festival (Headlining)

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