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Stereoboard Catch Up With Newton Faulkner About His Time Away & New Album 'Write It On Your Skin'

Thursday, 14 June 2012 Written by Katie Territt
Stereoboard Catch Up With Newton Faulkner About His Time Away & New Album 'Write It On Your Skin'

It’s been a huge five years since Newton Faulkner burst onto the music scene and into our CD collections with his fantastic debut album ‘Hand Built by Robots’. The talented singer-songwriter became a household name with his single releases, particularly the wonderful ‘Dream Catch Me’. It’s now been almost three years since his second long-player, ‘Rebuilt by Humans’, and Newton is finally on the verge of releasing his third album, ‘Write It On Your Skin’. Stereoboard caught up with the gifted star to find out what he’s been up to during that time off.

Image“I never stopped. If I’d have known it would be three years, I’d have taken a year out and maybe slept a bit *laughs*. I was trying to release something last year and that didn’t happen. My new album’s gone through three regime changes at the label, so I was trying to get something out last year but it was pretty much the worst time to be trying to do that so it didn’t happen. I am glad in a way, because of what we’ve ended up with. It’s really special and it was kind of worth waiting for from my point of view. Obviously it’s incredibly frustrating trying to get something out and no one can do it.”

To whet the appetite of fans, a brand new EP, ‘Sketches’, was released in April, albeit a shortly-lived release, as it was swiftly taken offline, changed, and re-released. “The reason it came down and went back on, was because it was wrong in the first place *laughs*. It was always meant to have more stuff on it, but it got put up with just two new tracks, but the video was meant to be on it as well. So basically instead of being the ‘Sketches’ EP, because it had one less official track, it actually made it a single *laughs*. It was like “what, I haven’t put out a single!” So yeah, it was just put out wrong so we pulled it back. In order to try and, just, not feel too guilty, we put some more stuff on that we had left over. It was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of left over material because there was a lot. We had at least 50 tracks. It was a way of letting people know I was still around and seeing how it did really. I guess if the EP hadn’t done what it did, then the label may have had second thoughts about the album. I was amazed by the success of the EP; in terms of the promotion, it had nothing. It was just me, sat at my laptop, typing.”

The ‘Write It On Your Skin’ title veers away from the trend of Newton’s last two, which is the first hint of a change of direction. “It’s kind of, I guess, a change of everything. It’s been long enough between the last album and this one. Literally everything from birth to death has occurred in the last three years in terms of stuff that’s really affected me. I was sitting down with my brother and he basically asked me “Have you sat down and really thought about the last three years?” and I was like “No, not really”. He just took me through it chronologically and I was like, “Holy shit, that’s a lot of stuff”. A lot of really major things. It’s been crazy, but a huge amount to take away from it, definitely a huge amount of inspiration.”

A change of direction meant a change in approach to the writing and recording process. “Yeah there was a little bit of change. I don’t know how much of that was due to everything that happened, and how much of it was due to experience of recording two already. I guess I kind of knew how I wanted to do it a bit more. And this was different; this was by far the most relaxed recording process I’ve ever done. I actually done a huge amount of the album in my “panic room” here, and I done a bunch of stuff in someone’s garage in L.A. I still find that weird that it happened. If someone said after the second album that I would be recording anything in L.A. I’d have said, “No I won’t” *laughs*. That’s mainly due to my preconceptions that I would go there and it would be a super funky hotel, a producer and all super mega funky L.A. style, and it just wasn’t. I was in an Express by Holiday Inn and I was walking to the studio, it was so low key. There was definitely no bullshit recording, there were no egos with anyone. I think you can really feel on the tracks, the relaxedness of it. It’s got a very kind of friendly nature. I didn’t realise I was doing it at the time, but after maybe 5 or 6 songs, the recording vocals kind of highlighted it, but there are some themes running through the whole album. One of the ones I find most interesting to me was finding ways of being positive without there being any realism. It’s a strange time in the world at the moment, and I don’t think it’s a time that out and out positivity would go down very well, so I had to balance it with something. So the way it ended up coming together was that, there’s a couple of songs where it’s like, I know things aren’t great now, but it’s gonna’ get so much better. I’ve listened to the album all the way through a couple of times now, and it’s a bit like someone coming and sitting next to you and putting their arm around you. It’s definitely a driving album song, it’s got real driving vibes, one arm out the window *laughs*.”

It appears that the typical Newton Faulkner sound is evident in the new album, with some small changes thrown in for good measure. “There’s a real variety on the album, there aren’t two tracks that sound the same. I hate albums that are all just the same song. I had to get kind of reigned in quite a lot. I mean I write real random stuff that never gets to see the light of day. I play it to people and they’re like “Dude, that’s really weird, do not do that”. And I’m like, “What, I like that one” *laughs*. I’ll keep the core to what I do, definitely, but there are some places which I’ve been not allowed to go, that I’d like to go to sometime.” Fans who buy the deluxe version of the album will also be treated to some bonus acoustic tracks. “The album’s pretty acoustic, it’s not massively layered. But I do like taking the most produced tracks, which are generally the singles, and strip them right back. It’s interesting; I think you kind of hear the song in a different way.”

‘Clouds’ is the new single from ‘Write It On Your Skin’ and is a great advertisement for the new album. “That was kind of a group decision on that. It’s been around for a while. We were talking about singles and about other tracks, and I was like, “What about this, this is really good”. And it won the race, which I’m really happy about. I’m really happy with the recording as well. It definitely sums up maybe two dimensions of the album – I’m not sure how many dimensions there are in total, but there are two things in there which appear in other places.”

A whole new album brings with it a whole new collection of songs to choose a favourite from, and Newton certainly has his. “Ahh ‘Longshot’, it’s really bizarre. There’s a track called ‘Longshot’ that’s probably taken more abuse than any other track on the album, like stuff that people have said about it in it’s earlier form. There was always a good song in there, but the way that it’s ended up is so kind of haunting and creepy. It’s a really interesting one for me, and part of that is because of the way it goes down live. It’s one of those tracks where everyone stops talking when it starts. I can’t wait to play it at festivals.”

Talking of festivals, Newton is booked in for a few this summer. “Festivals were part of my inspiration when writing a lot of the album tracks. In my head I’ve kind of gone back to all those festival moments and thinking, okay why did that work so well. It’s kind of going back and trying to use all the best bits of what I do. I’ll be cropping up all over the place; we’ve got V confirmed, there are a few others. I’ll be playing quite a lot. I’m really excited about Cornbury actually; I’m on just after Hugh Laurie which is amazing. At the very least, I’ll get like a handshake *laughs*.”

You’d think that having an impressive back catalogue of three studio albums would make choosing a set list easy, but it’s not really always the case. “It’s actually quite painful. Essentially I’d like to do 4 hour shows, but I’m not really allowed. I was doing around 2 hours on the last tour, I really like that. The way I do things, there’s a reason more people don’t do it the way I do it. It’s completely and utterly exhausting *laughs*. Doing two hours completely on your own, while playing things with both feet, it’s very physical. I don’t make any aspect of it easy for myself. I’m using the top notes in my vocal range every night.”

With the excitement of the new album building, Newton is still looking forward to the future. “I’ve already got a clear vision in my head of what I want the next album to be. It’s really solidified in my head, I know exactly how I want it to sound and feel. I’ve got songs left over which I think are right for the vibe I want to go for. There are things in the wings I can dip into, but I’ll keep writing. The more you do it, the better you get. One of the things I find more reassuring than anything else is that I’ve reached a point now where I could probably tour for the rest of my life even if I didn’t release anything, which I find so reassuring, it’s ridiculous. I lie in bed with a little smile on my face going, “Ahhh” *laughs*. I want to take things as far as I can go.”

It certainly sounds like Newton Faulkner is full of ambition, drive, and a passion to keep making brilliant music. His energy for playing live and doing what he loves is really clear, and with his fantastic new album coming soon, and a full headline tour in October, there is plenty for old and new fans to look forward to. A very welcome return to one of Britain’s best, and most talented, singer-songwriters.

‘Write It On Your Skin’ is released on 9th July 2012. The EP, ‘Sketches’, is available to buy and download now.

Newton Faulkner UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri June 29th 2012 - The Great Tew Park, Chipping Norton
Mon October 1st 2012 - The Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
Wed October 3rd 2012 - ABC, Glasgow
Thu October 4th 2012 - The Ironworks Inverness, Inverness
Tue October 9th 2012 - O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle
Wed October 10th 2012 - O2 Apollo, Manchester
Thu October 11th 2012 - O2 Academy Liverpool, Liverpool
Fri October 12th 2012 - Barbican Centre, York
Sun October 14th 2012 - O2 Academy Leeds, Leeds
Mon October 15th 2012 - New Theatre, Oxford
Tue October 16th 2012 - O2 Academy Leicester, Leicester
Thu October 18th 2012 - O2 Academy Birmingham, Birmingham
Fri October 19th 2012 - O2 Academy Bournemouth, Bournemouth
Sat October 20th 2012 - Great Hall, Exeter
Mon October 22nd 2012 - O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London

Click Here to Compare & Buy Newton Faulkner Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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