Noah and the Whale

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Noah and the Whale


When we speak, Noah and the Whale have been on the road for about four months to promote their third album, Last Night on Earth, and at least another six months of touring stretch out ahead of them. Their frontman is taking it all in stride. “The week we’re coming over for Splendour in the Grass, we’re doing Canada, the US, Japan and Australia, all in ten days. Our manager just hates us, obviously. He’s trying to kill us,” Charlie smiles, “And we all totally hate each other, of course, but we just get on with it.” He pauses for a second and laughs to himself. “You tell a joke like that and it always comes back to bite you in the ass,” he chuckles.

The band is actually in high spirits and having a great time, looking forward to the UK summer festival circuit where they can escape “the wilderness” of the US and catch up with old friends and new from the world of Brit rock. Part of their enthusiasm can probably be traced to the general success of the new album, which has already outsold their debut (Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down, 2008) and their critically-acclaimed sophomore record (The First Days of Spring, 2008). Last Night on Earth is a Gold Record in the UK, and it has taken the band into the Top 200 in America for the very first time. “It’s very rare that bands get to the third record and find that things are still building,” says Charlie, “In America, we’re revisiting venues that last time we came to were half full and now they’re completely sold out.”

The most satisfying thing, from Charlie’s point of view, is that he decided to shake things up after The First Days of Spring, and that decision has panned out beautifully. The last Noah And The Whale album was devoted, thematically, to Charlie’s break up with folk songstress Laura Marling, and touring it was a “living hell”. When it came time to start writing new songs, Charlie found he had a feverish appetite to try something different.

“I wrote the first song on this train ride, on New Year’s Day 2010. We had just finished touring First Days of Spring, which was a really tough record to tour, and I personally was looking for a change in my life and in what we were doing. That’s what the record is about, set against the romantic backdrop of the night time. It’s about people going into it and finding themselves, finding a place for themselves, finding something that’s right for you,” he explains.

When the band hit the studio, they were interested in expanding their sound and they found they had the confidence to experiment a little.

“We wanted to create something that had the energy and urgency of the lyrics, and I really wanted to test myself. It was new ground – synths, drum machine, things we hadn’t used before that I was really curious about,” says Charlie, “And we really just went for it. Your first record is your first record, and you’re a bit wide-eyed about it. We escaped a lot of the trauma that other bands go through with their second album, because there was something we urgently wanted to write about so I didn’t have to worry about coming up with material. By the time it came to writing this last album, we were comfortable being in the studio. When you’re a band and you come to make your third album you have a bit more time and maybe a bit more money to record, so you can be a bit more ambitious with it.”

When pressed, Charlie laughs and admits they didn’t actually have more money, but they decided to take their time anyway, and they’re very pleased with the results. Their earned a warm critical reception for their efforts and their second-highest charting UK single with L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N., plus a newly swollen fan base in Australia where Noah And The Whale are about to have their debut tour. “Our drummer at the moment is Australian and all he ever talks about is how great Australia is, so you’ve got a lot to look up to,” Charlie grins.

The band’s Splendour performance follows an appearance at Fuji Rock and is followed by a trip to Lollapalooza in the States – just a few more dates on a touring schedule that stretches out to October. Now seasoned world travellers, they’ve learned that a little bit of discipline goes a long way on the road, and makes things far more enjoyable in the long run, or so Charlie insists.

“I’ve got a much more positive attitude towards touring now. Like we say in the band, ‘Less grumble more crumble.’ Like apple crumble, you know. It’s a metaphorical idea of a reward. It’s not literal – we don’t have a massive crumble on the rider that we’re going to cut up and hand out depending on everyone’s attitudes,” he pauses, “Although come to think of it, maybe we should.”