Noah and the Whale Interview

Noah and the Whale are coming to Australia this month for the Splendour in the Grass Festival and will be playing sideshows in both Sydney and Melbourne. I was lucky enough to talk to the band’s lead singer Charlie Fink about their latest album The Last Night on Earth, Filmmaking and a possible upcoming tour.

This interview was brought to you from a shitty Sydney hostel, $8 an hour wi-fi and a ridiculous amount of swooning.

You guys are coming here for Splendour in the Grass. What can we expect from your Australian shows?

Charlie Fink: I think you’re getting us at a very good time, actually. We’ve just been on the road for 16 weeks so we’re a pretty well oiled machine now.

Will we get to hear stuff from your back catalogue as well as your new album?

CF: We try and play a pretty diverse set from all albums. I guess the old songs get re-imagined to sound more like the new record.

 Your new album sounds quite different to your previous work. Did you consciously decided to create a different sounding album, or did it just happen?

CF: I wanted to make a record that tested us as a band. I didn’t want to rely on what I’d previously done and try and discover new ground.

The Last Night On Earth sounds like a complete album, something that is beginning to get lost in the age of mp3s. Was it a conscious decision?

CF: With all of our records I try and make the record coherent where the songs are improved by being together. You know, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I think that’s really important. Pop songs have a lot more weight in that context.

I know you’re a big fan of film and even named your band after one (Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale). You also made a short film for The First Day of Spring. Do you have any plans for more  filmmaking?

CF: Yeah, I really want to do more film. I’m actually writing a short film at the moment that I’m hopefully going to shoot next summer. But yeah, I’d really love to do more film.

Bit of a random question, but how come you’re only doing shows in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, rather than in other states?

CF: We’re going to come back in February to do more shows because we’ve got the Fuji Rock Festival a few days before Splendour and then we’ve got to do Lollapalooza in Chicago the week after so we’ve got a limited time. But we’re planning to come back.

Do you ever freak out about the big names you play with at festivals? At Splendour alone you’ve got bands like Pulp and Coldplay.

CF: You just have to focus on the time that you’ve got, you’re 40 minutes or whatever the best that you can. I always make a list of all the bands I want to see at the festivals we’re playing at and I never end up going to any of them. Lollapalooza has one of the best line-ups.

Are there any bands you’re hoping to catch at Splendour?

CF: Well, there’s an English band that we’re friends with called The Vaccines and if we’re not playing when they are I’d like to go and watch them.

You guys seem to tour a lot. Do you ever feel like you need a break?

CF: I guess so at some point. But right now I’m enjoying the shows.

Is there anything you’re looking forward to doing in Australia?

We have a new drummer who’s from Australia, near Griffith and he’s always telling everyone that Australia’s the best place in the world. So Australia’s got a lot to live up to. So I’m quite excited.

Do you think your next album is going to be a different sound altogether from The Last Night On Earth?

CF: Um, I don’t know really. I’m not against trying new things but I generally just go with my gut.

Thanks so much for talking to me.

CF: No worries. Take care.

Noah and the Whale are playing:

Tuesday 2nd August – Factory Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday 3rd August – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Thursday Covers 08/04/10

This post is dedicated to my friend Jackson. The other week we were talking about music we can’t stand.  He mentioned that he absolutley hates Mumford & Sons and Vampire Weekend, who I am rather fond of. Because I’m a wonderful friend, I’ve decided to post some cover songs that I’m sure he will enjoy.

Mumford & Sons covering Vampire Weekend! Hell Yes! Admittedly it sounds just like you would expect it to (yes, it has a banjo solo) but they actually sound unrestrained which is brilliant. This how they should sound ALL the time. You can’t have polite banjo solos for god’s sake.

Mumford & Sons- Cousins (Vampire Weekend Cover).mp3

For us folks living in Australia, there really only seem to be three folk bands in the UK: Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale and of course, Mumford & Sons. Laura Marling has done an acoustic cover of  Roll Away Your Stone by Mumford & Sons and it’s nice to hear a female spin on the track. It loses something without the banjo and the full band behind her but it’s defently worth a listen.

Laura Marling- Roll Away Your Stone (Mumford & Sons Cover).mp3

Christmas Songs That Don’t (Completely) Suck, Part 2

Christmas. Two more sleeps and it will all be over. Thank god.

Christmas is stressful in general and for us folks working in retail it is even worse. In the words of one of my colleagues “At Christmas everyone turns into grumpy pricks.”

So to celebrate this wonderful time of year I think we need another dose of half-decent christmas songs.

Bah, Humbug.

First-Aid Kit- Blue Christmas.mp3

Why it doesn’t suck: I posted the Bright Eyes version of this song a few days ago but this one is much better because they actually sound blue, rather than mildly depressed.

Noah and the Whale- To Cyril At Crunkmas.mp3

Why it doesn’t suck: While it may not be the coolest genre, I am sucker for a good folk song. And there seems to a be a bit of a shortage of good Christmas folks songs. This track from Noah and the Whale has a bit of a demo-ey feel about it which adds to it I think.  I’m willing to forgive the annoying bells in the background of  because it is one of those Christmas songs that can be enjoyed at other times of the year, mainly because it doesn’t mention Santa or reindeer.

Camera Obscura- The Blizzard.mp3

Why it doesn’t suck: One of the problems with Christmas songs is that they are almost always happy and after spending three hours battling the crowds at Chadstone, having an argument with your family and witnessing your cousin block the upstairs toilet causing poo-water to drip into your living room(true story) the last thing you will feel is happy. Camera Obscura’s cover of  The Blizzard, a tale of a man and a horse being found dead in the snow, is as far from a happy Christmas song as you will get.  So when it all goes wrong, open up a bottle of gin, sit on the couch and listen to this marvelously depressing track. Thanks to Aaron Underground for sharing this one.

Fun.-Believe in me.mp3

Why it doesn’t suck: Remember The Format? Well they broke up last year, but luckily one of the members has formed a new band called fun. who make indie-pop music that suit Disney movies. And I say that with the utmost respect. Belive In Me is written from the perspective of Santa. Kind of like Santa Claus is Coming To Town for people with taste. They even manage to incorporate Jingle Bells without making you want to kill someone, which is an achievement in itself.