Metallica's James Hetfield recently stated that the band was in the final process…
- Posted on Sep 3rd 2009 5:00AM by Stephen Dowling
Charlie Fink, however, has. The leader of folk popsters Noah and the Whale went through a break-up with ex-bandmate and now solo star Laura Marling last year and wrote the band's second album 'The First Days of Spring' about the emotional turmoil that ensued.
A break-up album it most certainly is, though one that manages to end with the realisation that one day things won't feel this bad -- and along the way recognises the love we feel for the songs that mean something to us on the song 'I'm in Love With an Orchestra'. Coming a little over a year after the band's debut, it's surprised critics with its imagination, ambition and maturity.
Meanwhile, he film -- Fink won't be drawn too much on specifics -- charts the story of one man's confused lovelife, with the album providing a soundtrack to the action, broken up with occasional snatches of dialogue.
When Spinner catches up with Fink, he's holed up in his rehearsal space in north-west London, a stone's throw from the hustling, bustling Harrow Road. The end of the summer festival season is in sight, and with it both the release of the album and the movie.
Is it hard preparing to release and tour a record written in such a painful time?
"It was. It's weird because there are gaps between writing and recording music. You write something and then there's a gap before you record it, and then there's a big gap and you release it. Playing them when they were being written was harder than playing them now.
"I guess this record is a cathartic record, it felt good playing them. We started playing some of the album when we first went to America last year. But we've had a slight change of personnel, because the drummer, Doug, my brother, has left to become a doctor, and we got two new members changing it around to become a five-piece. Every tour we've done this year the instrumentation and the setlist has been completely different from tour to tour, one will be acoustic and the next electric instruments, one will have a horn section. Now it feels like we've settled on a live sound we're happy to do for at least the next year."
Has it been hard revisiting that period of your life -- constantly going back over a breakup?
It's funny. There's a vast difference between what a song feels like to record and what a song feels like to play live. Playing live is such a perverse and abstract thing -- the fact that you stand up in front of a bunch of strangers and talk about things you wouldn't even talk about to your best friends is ridiculous. Who does that? But because of that madness it separates you from the track. Your performance needs to be in touch with the song as well.
But when you're in the studio it's just you and the song and that's when it really sucks it out of you. But it's good to be in that position. There's nothing worse than being indifferent recording a song.
It must have been hard for the band too -- they know Laura too...
There were a few awkward moments but they were very understanding. You spend that much time with those people and you live through everything with them. It's funny. It was a quite an intense period, but the band were dedicated enough to the record to not question it or worry about it. No-one was ever at a rehearsal and go: "Oh, what about that one -- last night I slept with a stranger."
And 'I'm in Love With an Orchestra' seems to be a love letter to music itself?
That's one dimension of what the whole record is about, is that having this little world of music whoever possesses it and totally own its, and that's an amazing thing. It's quite a simple idea I think. The fact I have a capacity to write songs is something that I hold really precious -- I'll never be lonely because I've got songs in my blood. That's one of those things, that when you hit a real low, you've got your records.
What was it like making the film – and how close does the story fit to the lyrics of the album?
It's not the same narrative as the album, it's complimentary. It is about relationships as well, and it's about one man's life. I'm reluctant to give away too much narrative because one of the enjoyable things about watching it is the way it comes together, you don't know what you're watching. It's a totally unique prospect.
Noah and the Whale's 'The First Days of Spring' is out now in the U.K. and will be released in the U.S. on Oct. 6.