Backstage Pass Interview: Newton Faulkner

Even though it's still some time before the doors are opened, there's a crowd gathering outside the O2 ABC in Glasgow eagerly awaiting a night of music with Newton Faulkner.

The tour is in support of his album, Write it on your Skin. It's been three years since his last album but tonight's sold out gig is testament to his lasting popularity. As we make our way through the labyrinth of corridors to meet him, we pass by the usual paraphernalia associated with gigs: half unpacked touring boxes, a plethora of backstage staff and venue personnel being briefed for the night

Newton arrives looking relaxed, clutching a polystyrene cup of ginger tea to soothe his throat and help chase off the tail end of a chest infection - definitely not what you want at the start of a fourteen date tour of the UK & Ireland.

How are you feeling about the tour? How's it all coming along?
Wicked, it's all coming together. The response to the new stuff is great. I toured it quite a lot before it was out and now obviously people have had it for a little while and they know all the words which makes it so much more fun. It's really nice.

It must be a great feeling when the crowd's singing along.
It's amazing. When you open with a track from the new album and everyone's singing along you're like "Sh*t! This is awesome!" It's pretty fun.

We did a search on social media before we came along today and the title track 'Write it on your skin' is a particular favourite. Have you felt that?
Yeah, it's going to be a single. I think we might make another video, there is a video made but I think we could do a more ridiculous one.

More ridiculous?
It's pretty ridiculous anyway but I think we could do something stupider, always. Videos are not for television anymore which means you can make them much cheaper.

Do you enjoy connecting with your fans through social media?
Absolutely love it. I mean the Internet [on tour] has been pretty rubbish the last few days so I haven't been online but I take photos on stage of the crowd and upload the pictures of the crowd to Twitter and Facebook. I've got a Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram that I use. They're used for slightly different things. Instagram's all on on my phone, Tumblr's my proper camera as I've really got into photography. Partly since having a kid, I think because you want to document it. I actually got offered a photography gig which was weird. Someone offered to pay me to go to festivals and take photos. I was like, I can't, I'm BUSY when I'm at festivals [laughs]. It's a real compliment though, it's amazing. 

Do the fans like connecting with you that way?
Definitely. Twitter's great for just bouncing stuff back and forth. I thought of a really good tweet the day before the tour started but I didn't have 3G and now I have to wait until the next tour to say it because it's not applicable at any other time than the night before a tour. I need to write it down!
Are there any venues on the tour that you're particularly looking forward to or that are a favourite of yours?
Do you know I haven't actually had a proper look through them. I remember picking them but I can't remember what they are now. There's quite a few good ones. Shepherd's Bush is lovely and here [Glasgow] is awesome.

How has your life changed since having your son?
It changes everything dramatically but in nothing but positive ways. It's just an amazing thing, it's lovely.

Has it influenced your writing?
Definitely. I'm much harder on myself now. It's kinda stretched the life span of the songs out into eternity because before it ended when I ended, it's done so I don't care any more. Now, I know that it does go on forever because he's going to have to live with everything I commit to record so I was really hard on myself [when making] this record.

It's been 3 years since your last album came out and there's been a lot of shift in the music market with Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard breaking through. Do you feel that your success paved the way for some of that to happen?
Yeah, it's really weird. I think I kinda opened some doors for him [Ed Sheeran] and then he opened some doors for me to come back. It goes back to David Grey that opened all the doors for me. Nothing acoustic was going on at all then he came out which meant a couple of years later that I could come out.

White ladder changed music a lot didn't it?
Yeah, it really did. Everything went back to playing and writing and that really worked well for me. Then I think everything was starting to go very poppy / dancey again and Ed Sheeran came out and a lots of other things and I felt 'Wow I can actually release a record again'. If the dancey thing had kept going then I thought that they would start mixing a bit more songs in with it but no one's really done it. Not in a way that I've noticed, there's maybe people doing it.

Is there a track on the new album that you particularly look forward to playing on the tour?
My favourite one's Sugar in the Snow. It's quite hard to recreate live but it's definitely my favourite track. It's why it's the last track [on the album], it sums up the whole album. Looping's come up a lot in interviews recently and one guy was like 'So obviously looping is a large part of what you do?' and I've never, ever done that in my life but loads of people think I do. I think it's partly because of Ed Sheeran, they think that's what I do which is weird. My style gives me a lot more freedom.

Is there a song of yours that gets requested the most when you're on tour?
No, it's generally pretty random. The night before last was really strange because a lot of the requests were things that aren't on any album which means it's just on YouTube and stuff. I wouldn't play something that wasn't on any album without some kind of reason.

We have to ask you about your Spongebob Squarepants theme tune cover, is that the oddest request you've had?
[Laughs] God yeah, that got so out of control! I had to put a massive full stop on that, I'm not doing that any more. There was a review in a paper that had a picture of me and 'Spongebob, Spongebob, Spongebob' written next to it. It was very strange. It still comes up but not half as much as it used to.

How do you feel about the fact that concerts aren't just one moment now, they're filmed on cameras and it turns up on YouTube the next day?
Oh we're actually recording tonight. We're printing CDs as I come off and you can pick them up on the way out. It's going to be awesome. I've never done it before. It's pretty full on. They're getting the desk recording so it's going to be cool.

Is piracy an issue for you?
This album was number 1 in the record store charts for the physical sales, I think it did like 2 or 3 weeks which is kind of unheard of. The other things in the chart were really random, not a lot of pop. It tends to be the more left stuff that people go out and by. I must admit, If I was working at the other end of the music industry, at the business end, I would push vinyl more than anything else. It's a product that people actually want to buy and spend real money on. People don't want to spend that much on CDs but vinyl is such a tangible product. For me, it's the only product they can sell for real money but they're just not interested.

What's the one thing that you would like the audience to take away at the end of your concert?
All my favourite gigs I've walked out of, like the Flaming Lips - I smiled for like a month - and you definitely want to leave people with that. There's enough depressing things around. 

You can see Newton Faulkner on tour this month visit for the dates.