The video for Noah And The Whale’s plaintive indie pop track ‘There Will Come A Time’ is a striking thing, a story of tearaway teens sent to live on an island in the dystopian near future. If you think it looks like a mini-movie, you’re right – the video clip actually serves as a trailer for the upcoming short film by Noah And The Whale singer Charlie Fink.
“I’ve always liked to involve film in what we do,” Fink says. “I’m interested in investigating that marriage of film and music. I thought it would be really great to make a short film and tie it in to this new album.”
The songs on Noah And The Whale’s Heart Of Nowhere deal with friendship and coming-of-age, themes that resonate strongly in the film. “The film is really about friendship,” Fink says. “It’s about these four friends who live in a dystopian environment where teenagers are separated from society until they’re deemed mature enough to return. When we started filming, I gave the actors a DVD bundle of films that were influential on the story. There were two in particular – a pair of ‘80s teen films called Over The Edge and Breaking Away.”
When the band was thinking about which of their songs to pair with the trailer, they decided that ‘There Will Come A Time’, with its themes of friendship and romance, was the perfect fit. “The film itself is a half-hour short that has a couple of songs from the record and a specially-written score, but ‘There Will Come A Time’ was the ideal song for the trailer.”
If the songs on Heart Of Nowhere seem to have a greater sense of immediacy and urgency than on previous albums, that’s because the album was recorded live. “We toured our last album for 18 months straight,” Fink says. “When you play live so often, you develop an intuition as performers, and we really wanted to capture something like that in the recording studio.”
As well as recording live, the songs were also conceived in a much more collaborative way. “In the past, I’d bring in a mostly-finished song and we’d work on the arrangement together,” Fink says, “but this time, there were a few where I’d bring in an idea and we’d turn it into a song together. It’s a much more enjoyable process to do it that way.”
Recording live does, of course, come with its own unique set of challenges. “When you make music that way, you trade technical perfection for emotional intensity and energy,” Fink says. “You embrace the flaws and mistakes that you get from that as signifiers of unchecked feeling and emotion. They often talk about the magic of recording music live – you get moments that you can never recreate. That’s what a great take is.”
Picking the best take isn’t always easy. “It’s funny, because there’s no such thing as a perfect take,” Fink says. “Each one offers you something different. It’s about learning to listen, learning to feel a song. When you’re playing, you might think one take is the best, but when you listen back a while later, it will often be a completely different one that gets the best reaction.”
While Fink sees Noah And The Whale continuing for the foreseeable future, he would love to try his hand at making a full-length feature film. “You need to do something like that at the right time,” he says. “I need a story that I want to tell enough. I feel like I learn so much every time I work in film, about the medium, that I’m accumulating enough knowledge to eventually make a feature.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Heart Of Nowhere is out now on Universal.