As I enter backstage of the Leamington Spa Assembly I notice that this isn't your usual backstage. Yes there is a drinks machine, sofas, laptops everywhere but then I am stood next to a giant Smurf, a Dalek and in front of me is Tammy Wynettes old tour bus with white picket fences surrounding it which I am told is where I will interview Mr Faulkner. While he is finishing off his sound check, I make myself comfortable and nervously yet excitedly wait for him to walk through the door which he does. Do I shake his hand, do I give him a high five or do I go for the air kiss?! I go for the shake of a hand and a wonderfully bright eyed smile (if I do say so myself) which is delivered back straight away. Phew, nerves have gone!
Hello Newton, how are you today?
I'm very well thank you and yourself?
I am extremely well thanks! Are you looking forward to tonight then?
Yeah, hell yeah definitely!
It's quite a cool venue isn't it?
It's lovely. I think I did it a few years ago and yeah its awesome.
It's quite unique. Someone I know said it's a bit like a music box (Newton looks confused), like a jewellery box thing?
A musical box?! Oh I know, the little spinny thing! It does have that sort of vibe. It has the weird metal... yeah its quite a strange room. It sounds awesome!
So how's the tour been going for you so far?
It's been awesome, it's amazing. I just been completely blown away by the response to the new material because I put in loads, for the pop up tour I did, thinking that if I put in quite a few of the album that Id have to take it out and then I just didn't.
And people have loved it?
It's been absolutely fine. There are only a couple of songs on the album that I'm not doing. I'm obviously doing enough old stuff to balance it out. But its definitely, more than I thought would be acceptable. But people are having a really good time.
Yeah, I mean if you are throwing it out there and people are accepting it well...
And also people, even if it's not recorded, they can actually find everything on Youtube so there are people singing along.
That must be quite weird for you? Having songs that nobody has heard before and suddenly people are singing back to you?
Yeah its like the 5th time I've played it and people know every word although if I get the words wrong, then its not cool then you end up with a mild cross over.
So your new album is out the 9th July? What can we expect from it?
Its a slightly different beast. It has a slightly different vibe. I mean the first two were very close together, time wise and I hadn't, I didn't feel like I had mentally changed that much between the two of them but with this one, stuffs changed a lot. Like, my whole life has changed. I've got a son and all kinds of stuff. It's crazy. So, with the amount of time between them, I think I have much more of an idea about how I fit into the musical spectrum. And the second album I very much wrote to be recorded as I was following the success of the first one and then between the second one and now I've been gigging relentlessly and I have realised that live is my natural.
Leading on from that, obviously you can have albums which get recorded and sound completely different live. Do you prefer the live aspects of it?
The live thing is so much simpler. If you do a good gig, its completely undeniable because everyone is smiling and because it is a group experience because people go away going "Oooo that was really good!" and it is very different from making a recording because if you have a recording that you think is really good, that I really like and I send it to people and they are really picky about really random things like "I think its okay... I don't like the high hat in the second verse" and you get all of this weird scrutiny that you don't get live. It's either good or it's not, and its really simple to what that does.
I saw you last summer at Summer Sundae and it was without doubt one of the best live acts I have seen. I'm not just saying that either! Genuinely, because I saw you on the bill and I wanted to go and watch and get some snaps. And like you say, it's a group thing and we came away and everywhere you could hear people going "That was ridiculously amazing!"(laughter) and it wasn't just one person. It was everyone. You could hear people freaking out...so, this is going somewhere don't worry..do you prefer festivals or a smaller more intimating setting?
I kind of make everything feel relatively similar. I have no idea how. I mean its really weird and I remember when I was first starting out, doing relatively big gigs and I wasn't sure if the way that I conducted myself was going to translate because I was like, if there are 50 people in a room, It would be a chat and a gig and it would be 'intermingle'. And as things got bigger, I felt that I had to start, kind of, adopting rock poses and putting on a 'classic show' thing and its just never happened. The bigger the crowd, the more powerful it seems to be that it is just me on my own. Stuff like the Isle of Wight festival, I had a band for some songs but I did the set mostly on my own. It was the stuff on my own that impacted. Its hilarious for me looking at photographs taken at the back of festivals. There is a massive stage and loads of stage for loads of production and its just a mic and a guy with a guitar and a sea of people. It is bizarre. It does seem to translate.
I think its quite nice though that it can just be you and it doesn't need to be filled up with all these other bodies on the stage and you can do it all as well.
I do little bits with my feet. I use my feet probably more sparingly than before. The second album, because it was written to be recorded was quite a challenge to play all of it live which went to trigger samples with my feet and trigger visuals with my feet as well. I took on the challenge of recreating the second album live which was intense and stuff like 'Wont let Go' I had to put the strings on a cassette, I think I played that at Summer Sundae? And the cello part with my feet. It was mental but this album is again, rather technically challenging for me but in a different kind of way because its been written to be played live. I can pretty much infiltrate the entire album to be played live. It seems to flow really well into the old material as well and stuff with the first album.
Are you by yourself tonight then as well?
So it'll be a really good gig then. I'm really looking forward to it! So you're at Cornbury as well this year?
Yup, and V Festival. And I think more stuff floating around...
So how is 2012 going for you so far then?
Really good. Labels had its ups and downs and they've just settling in now. I mean its been insane. I haven't actually manically stopped working for a year and a half, 2 years? Because I got an album together last year, like it was my plan. I felt that It would be too long for people to wait and so I was desperate to get some stuff out and then label wise it wouldn't have worked out. So I have done two albums recently. (laughs)
Is that because you also had an EP that was going to be released?
Yeah that's only been put back a few weeks. It was moved back because it was put up wrong in the first place. They just uploaded it without checking and stuff... yeah. It was a proper clinical error. So we moved it back and are doing it again properly. It just got randomly put up and I was told afterwards. "Oh we've put your thing up" - the first piece of music, even on pre order, in 3 years and they just chucked it up and put it up wrong. It also got labelled as 'single' as well, because it didn't have the tracks it was supposed to have on it , it didn't fit iTunes requirements for an EP. It was 'Sketches' - the new single and I was like, this is so wrong. It is really weird! So we started again.
Obviously the internet plays such a massive part now..
Oh yeah more so than ever before and also contact with fans!
Do you feel that things like Twitter and Facebook can massively bring you closer to the fans and in a way find out what they want from you as an artist?
Oh yeah, definitely. There is definitely a huge amount of that to be taken advantage of. We are actually talking about, there are 3 tracks, none of which are singles but I'm really tempted to leak the demos of all three and be like "Guys, what do you want? You can have 2 out of the 3".
I see, I think that's a really good way of doing it!
We could definitely do that. We are just mixing them at the moment and if we can't make a decision. I'll do it on Facebook. The Facebook thing has been really weird. I only got into it a couple of years ago. It was when the volcano went off in Iceland and I was in Hong Kong and I think my first message was "I AM SO SORRY I DIDN'T KNOW YOU GUYS WERE HERE...errr hi?!" There were about 30,000 people just sat there waiting for something to happen and I suddenly appeared and since then, because its been made official now and the Twitter is the same. I think I'm up to 175,000 followers?! Its just putting in a lot of time and answering questions. Answering questions is the weird one. Few people seem to actually do it. Its one of the easiest things to do.
Like a Q&A session?
Not even a session, just like people put up questions and it takes two seconds to be like "Yeah, its this tuning.. annnnd yup bye!"
A lot of 'celebrities' have twitter and obviously fans follow them and they can't take the time to connect with them.
I spend a lot of time. I think it's a lot of fun. Twitter is much sillier than Facebook. Facebook is I'm trying to figure out of the divide. Someone said do you want to link the two so that everything I put on Twitter will go straight on Facebook and I said no because I was like, I'm sure there is a different discipline. There are actually difference types of people that do both and you can just get up in the morning and type "Morning" on Twitter... you can't really do that on Facebook.
It's great having a new way to communicate.
Its amazing for me. I have really got into it and also because its just face book and a massive database of people and it's a way like, on the first album I could only tell a small group of people. Most of which didn't actually believe that it was me to begin with!
Do you have any 'fakers' on Twitter?
I think they've all gone. There were loads! A couple of Facebooks. One guy who put in a LOT of time. He was dedicated to pretending to be me.
That's a little scary?
A little bit... he will probably kill me one day. That'll be his plan!
Thank you for taking your time to speak to us at eGigs. I'm really looking forward to tonight!
Thank you. Yeah it should be a fun one!