Noah and The Whale has never been a band lacking in inspiration. Its name is a play on director Noah Baumbach’s 2005 film The Squid and The Whale. Its sophomore effort First Days of Spring was spurred on by a painful breakup, not only between songwriter Charlie Fink and back-up vocalist Laura Marling, but between Marling and the band as well. The album itself served as the inspiration for a Fink-directed film of the same name that runs the entire course of the album.
Now with its third LP Last Night on Earth, Noah and Whale are moving forward once again, exploring new territory. We recently spoke to Charlie Fink during the band’s tour to discuss the new album, inspiration and the end of the world.
Paste: You’re last album was a break-up record. So, certainly there was plenty of emotion and inspiration to draw from there. How did the theme for Last Night on Earth come about, and what did you draw from?
Charlie Fink: Well this one is definitely a much more outward-looking album and really character based.
Paste: This album has a noticeably more upbeat feel to it that First Days of Spring. What prompted that?
Fink: Many things. I never think when I make a record that I’m committing myself to that sound forever. I like to be investigative and don’t feel the need to repeat myself with my music.
Paste: Do you consider Last Night on Earth to be a concept album?
Fink: I think it has a thread to it. All the songs are in some way about change and often the nighttime. I think that’s important to a record, though, to at the very least have a consistent mood, lyrically and musically.
Paste: Does the way you envisioned the album affect the way you incorporate the
material into your live performances? Or do you just intersperse the individual songs throughout the set?
Fink: With a live show its more about the pace. So albums blend into one another a little. There’s also some thematic crossover between records.
Paste: Did you set out to write this album with the particular theme of the last night on Earth, or did they songs just start developing that way on their own?
Fink: The title was the last thing I had, which is a contrast to The First Days Of Spring where it was actually the first thing I had. I think I only realized what the themes of the album were after I’d written it. When I write, I have to be the prospector and the cook. You go out and find what’s out there, and then you bring it back and make sense of it, make it edible (or in this case audible).
Paste: In the description of the album on your website, it says, “It may be their last night on Earth. It may just feel that way.” What do you mean by that?
Fink: The title I guess is that immediacy of feeling like it’s the last night on Earth, I guess. And so, a lot of the stories of the characters, like I say, it’s the . . . these people and making it like it’s their [break] to freedom or living like it’s their last night on Earth.
Paste: Do you often think about what the last night on Earth might be like?
Fink: Do I think about it? I try not to do that too much.
Paste: What do you think about the 2012 theory?
Fink: 2012? Is that when the world is ending?
Paste: Yeah, according to some of the beliefs based on the Mayan calendar.
Fink: Well, I saw the film 2012, about the end of the world, and that was pretty boring. So, if that’s any indication of what 2012 is going to be like . . .
Paste: Are you planning on producing any film projects to accompany this album as you did with First Days of Spring?
Fink: Probably not in the same way. I directed a video for “Tonight’s the Kind of Night,” but no, there’s nothing attached to this one like there was with the last one, but there will be a little bit.
Paste: Are you planning any other film projects outside of the band?
Fink: Yeah, just really far beyond the Rhine. Sort of ideas and sketches and things. I guess they want to do more of it at some point. Absolutely.
Paste: Well, what’s up on the horizon for Noah and The Whale?
Fink: Well, I mean this year is just touring really. We’re out on the road, and basically kind of primed every day up until December with shows and everything. It’s cool. We’ve just done a few days in America. We did two nights at The Bowery. It’s nice to be on the road . . . We’re in Toronto till tomorrow. Then, we’re off to the U.K to do a U.K tour.