Noah And The Whale Interview

Clash's Best Newcomers of 2008 get their punk on...

After topping Clash’s Best Newcomers poll – see the current issue for more, or scroll for the list of ten – Noah and The Whale are now set to return with a slice of festive fun in the shape of new E.P., ‘The A Sides’.

With their debut album, ‘Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down’, certified gold and a summer that found them bouncing around the Top Ten like a wayward beach ball behind them, the future of the Charlie Fink-led outfit seems pretty rosy, to say the least.

Recorded over a matter of days by the four-piece and ushering in a spiky punk sound to the band, the new E.P. is something of a departure for the four-piece. Clash caught up with them to get the low-down on the ‘A Sides’ project, their favourite LPs of the year and more. Answers from frontman Charlie…

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Firstly, can you tell us a bit about ‘The A Sides’?

‘The A Sides’ came about after we were recording some b-sides, and were trying some punk versions of songs from the first album. Then we just decided to do an album – the whole thing took about ten hours to record and we had a two-take limit on recording. If it took longer than that then we didn’t pursue it.

And what inspired you to give the proceeds to the Age Concern charity?

I think we’re in a position now where we can do something like that. We wanted to release it and we’ve got no real need to pursue the profits from it. We were deciding what charity to donate to and had done the retirement home documentary, featuring somewhere we played once, so it fitted in with that. Its something we all believe in.

Musically, ‘The A Sides’ seems inspired by New Wave bands. Would you agree?

Yeah, it was really influenced by American punk bands, too: Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Jonathan Richman, people like that.

Would you say ‘The A Sides’ is an alter-ego to Noah And The Whale?

The A Sides is nothing to do with Noah and The Whale, really. But yeah, we almost planned to treat it like separate people. After making an album where you find yourself analysing everything you do, it was just an incredible way to record. Two takes, all the mistakes left in, rather than trying to make something formulaic.

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The A-Sides – ‘Punk Be Thy Name’


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Was there a reason you limited the release to 2,500 copies?

We wanted to keep it kinda special. Just doing it completely independently, putting it out ourselves, we don’t want to ever have to take it seriously; I don’t think The A-Sides will ever reform.

What songs are you covering on the E.P.?

We’re doing a Daniel Johnston track called ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Grievances’. Also there’s ‘Don’t Look Back’ by The Temptations, and a cover of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’ in a punk style. Daniel Johnston is a genius. I hear there may be another film made about him, too.

Are Noah and The Whale still big film fans?

Totally. We’re actually doing a tour in March, which will be a film and music tour. We’re gonna show projections of short films and scenes from our favourite movies while we play. It’s called ‘The Club Silencio Tour’, which is named after a scene from Mullholland Drive.

Is Laura Marling going to feature on the next Noah… record?

She isn’t. We wanted to do something different with the next record and the story of the album wouldn’t make sense to have a female voice in it with the narration. It’s just the four of us. We’ve got horns and some other weird instrumentation going on there too. We’re going to start recording the next album in January.

What have been your favourite albums of 2008?

The new Kanye West album’s amazing, just heard that the other day (read the Clash review HERE). The Mountain Goats’ album ‘Heretic Pride’ was really good, and the score for There Will Be Blood by Johnny Greenwood, that was great.

Do you have any tips for us, for next year?

There’s a band I really like called The Muslims, who I think actually recently changed their name (they’re now known as The Soft Pack). They’re brilliant, they sound like Jonathan Richman actually, that’s what I hear when I listen to them.

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‘The A Sides’ is available now via Young & Lost Records with a limited release of 2,500 copies. Find the band on MySpace HERE.

To win signed copies of the EP and more click HERE. To buy tickets for the 2009 Noah And The Whale UK tour click HERE.

Clash’s Best Newcomers of 2008 Top ten looked like this (check issue 33 of the magazine for interview content!):

10. Cage The Elephant

9. Duffy

8. Lykke Li

7. Frightened Rabbit

6. Fuck Buttons

5. Eugene McGuinness

4. The Week That Was

3. James Yuill

2. Crystal Castles

1. Noah & The Whale

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