Interview: Noah And The Whale

It’s been quite the year for Noah And The Whale. The critical acclaim of of their third studio album, Last Night On Earth in January, has led to sold out shows both at home and in America. Meanwhile, a summer of high profile festival appearances has marked the London-based five piece – singer-songwriter Charlie Fink, violin player Tom Hobden, bassist Urby Whale, guitarist Fred Abbott and drummer Michael Petulla – as this autumn’s biggest live draw.

This October, they play their biggest UK tour to date, performing at 17 large scale shows across the UK. Fink admits success on this scale was never in his mind when he first started sketching the songs that would make up his band’s debut album.

“I never really anticipated playing venues that big, not at the beginning,” he says. “If someone had suggested that to me a long time ago, I would have laughed. What’s exciting is that we feel ready for this and it feels like it’s the right time for us to be doing these shows. We’ve got the songs to suit it and as performers we’re ready for it.”

“We’ve been on tour for the last four months,” says Fink, “but we’ve only had three days off, which isn’t many I know. We don’t really take breaks, we just get going because one record goes into the next. With the first record we were touring that while making the second. I don’t really know what it’s like to stop to be honest.”

Admitting that he’s overwhelmed at the warm reception that the latest Noah and the Whale album has enjoyed, Fink adds “This is the fastest that people have warmed to a new record of ours. When we put the second album out, it took a long while before people connected with it and we were saying the other day that it’s only now that people out and telling us that they liked it.”

“When I’m making a record I get tunnel vision about finishing it and finishing it to be the best it can be. By the time people judge an album, I’ve made peace with it. I do get quite protective.”

The band’s sound is deeply embedded in their childhood influences, an infectious quality that shines through the record. Charlie Fink once danced around to the Beach Boys and Buddy Holly, both of whom can be heard working distant magic on the music he writes himself. “I’ve always been a sucker for a great pop melody, and I’ve always strived to write good melodies.” Looking to the future, he adds, “as for the new record, I don’t really know yet.”

The highlight of the year for the band so far has probably been their show in Salt Lake City, which was unexpectedly and wildly sold out. Pinned back by the crowd in a room where they had to walk through the masses in order to leave the stage, Fink describes being confronted with “500 kids going nuts” as an “insane” experience.

Having been asked to appear on the TV and radio in America has had a huge impact on the band’s popularity in the States, which is constantly on a meteoric rise. “People are coming to the shows,” says Charlie, “And that’s happened because Last Night On Earth is a more accessible record than the previous ones. It’s the bouncing back album. That’s the thing, it’s a story people want to hear because it’s more positive.”

Of course, it helps that all the influences on the record were American. “I always used to find very America very romantic and the images I had of it were always in New York in the 1960s, that’s always been an influence on me.” Ascendency. Disappointing.

“A lot of themes on the album are about change, romance and the night time – I think America has that open road romance to it. I love that idea that you can get on a long dark road and drive for 12 hours into the night. If you do that in the UK, you’re in the sea.”