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