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Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011

THOUGHTS ON FUJI

Noah & the Whale


By MIKE SUNDA
Special to The Japan Times

What have you done in Japan so far?

News photo
Noah & the Whale: Tom Hobden and Charlie Fink ALEXIS WUILLAUME PHOTO

Charlie Fink (vocals, guitar, ukulele): We just had three days in Tokyo, which was amazing. We had a really good time there.

Did you go anywhere in particular?

CF: I went to Nakameguro one day, and then Shimokitazawa. That was a lovely area. The other guys did loads of sightseeing — temples and stuff. We just wanted to stay in Tokyo, though.

Tom Hobden (fiddle, keys): We just ate lots of food!

CF: Yeah, we definitely had some meal plans that we saw through.

What was the weirdest thing you ate?

CF: This sort of weird, orange bogey thing. I don't know what it was — some sort of fish.

TH: And those sardines you start your meals with.

What are your impressions of Fuji Rock?

CF: The stage we played on was incredible — the view and the crowd. It's an amazing setting for a festival.

TH: We're very partial to beautiful festivals. It'd probably go in our Top 5 immediately.

CF: I'm also very impressed with how everyone's coping with the rain. If it rains like this at an English festival it's a nightmare, but no one seems to be particularly affected by it here.

Have you played any comparable festivals?

TH: I guess (Welsh festival) Green Man is quite similar, in the sense that you're in a forest by the mountains.

CF: There's this one we played in Switzerland, called Gurtenfestival, which was at the top of a mountain — but nothing quite like this. This is really unique.

You've mentioned previously that the whole Bruce Springsteen-esque idea of travel influenced your album.

CF: Yeah, big time. I remember I did some traveling when I was 18 or 19, driving across the United States. I think that's why that sort of imagery is so constant in American music — the idea of that dark, black of the night and the open road. In England, you drive two hours and you're in ... Birmingham or whatever. Whereas in America, you're in the middle of nowhere.

Hopefully not Birmingham, England!

TH: Birmingham, Alabama!

So are you done with traveling now?

CF: That's the thing — "traveling" and "touring" are quite different. We actually had pretty much our first week off this year and I thought, "Do I want to go away? ... Not particularly!"

The songs on the album also seem to be getting bigger in scale, will that grow and grow?

TH: We're very instinctive as a band, we're not going to do things by the book.

CF: We don't sit down strategically over a map of the world and discuss our plans — it's just instinctive, as Tom says. Maybe on the next album we will!

You were playing on the Field of Heaven stage. What would be in your own personal Field of Heaven?

CF: This doesn't answer your question at all, but we watched a film called "Days of Heaven" on the bus recently, and it was a brilliant film, so maybe I'd have a cinema screen projecting "Days of Heaven" and ... just me. No one else to ruin the ambience.

Tom, what would be in your Field of Heaven?

TH: The Vaccines, just chilling out.

[Just then, members of The Vaccines appear and start speaking with Noah & the Whale.]

Well, I guess we'll wrap up the interview there then ...


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