"We're still attracted to the darker side of life..." - hmv.com talks to Finch
Nine years is a long time to leave it between your second and third albums, but then California post-hardcore types Finch have never been a band to do anything the conventional way.
Formed in 2001, the band arrived at a time when emo and post-hardcore was very big business indeed, with bands like The Used, Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical Romance selling millions of records. Their 2002 debut album What It Is To Burn is a perfect encapsulation of what fans loved about emo and post-hardcore, coated with a shiny radio sheen and packed to the gills with massive choruses. It took them around the world and ended up selling over 500,000 copies, but, when it came time for the follow-up, the band seemed in no mood to capitalise on that success.
When their second LP Say Hello To Sunshine emerged in 2005, it seemed to turn its back on everything that had made its predecessor a success; gone were the big choruses, the polished radio riffs and the lovelorn lyrics, in their place came dark, angular alternative rock and lyrics cloaked in metaphor and oddity. Needless to say, it didn’t deliver the same commercial success.
The tour in support of the record didn’t last long, with the band announcing just eight months after the release of their second album that they were now on indefinite hiatus.
As it turned out the break-up wouldn’t last long and the band reformed in early 2007 and begun touring again in earnest. They released a self-titled EP the following year and headed to the studio to record a new record, a new record that it turned out would never come out, after months in the studio the band scrapped the sessions and announced that the band was, once again, no more.
All the band members moved on, some formed others bands, one member went to culinary school, another focused on making apps, bassist Derek Doherty (who’d been with the group until 2006) even got involved in real estate, and was actually jailed last year for being involved in mortgage fraud…
Either way, it looked like the end for Finch, that was until the end of 2012, when the band’s old manager emailed the group to see if they fancied hooking up again, this time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of What It Is To Burn with a one-off show. Some were keen straightaway, some took convincing, but in the end they reunited and, of the back of the shows, decided to try again, touring throughout 2013 and recording once again.
So, at long last, the third Finch album arrives on Monday (September 29th), it’s titled Back To Oblivion and we called up singer Nate Barcalow to find out all about it…
This is the first new Finch album since 2005’s Say Hello To Sunshine. Is it a bit weird to be sat here talking about a new album?
“The concept is a little strange isn’t it? We’re a band, we’re supposed to make records, looking back and releasing how long it’s been between records, it make you realise just how long some people must have been waiting for this, it’s exciting.”
Did it take you a long time to record the album?
“It took about a month to make in the studio, but also with a month of pre-production, so I guess two months in all.”
You tried to record an album back in 2008 and ended up scrapping it, what felt different this time?
“We had better material and a much clearer head space, when we were trying to write a third album last time the songs just weren’t there. This time we were much more relaxed and we just thought ‘Let’s sit back and see what happens. If we get good material from these sessions, then that’s great’, so that’s what we did.”
Given you scrapped the album last time, were you perfectly prepared to do the same thing this time if the songs hadn’t been there?
“I don’t know. Probably. It would have been the same thing, we’d have worked on it and if the songs weren’t there we’d have just said to each other ‘We gave it a try, but it’s not meant to be’. That’s why we didn’t announce that we were writing, we didn’t want to let anybody down. It took us a while before we were ready to tell people.”
How different did writing feel this time compared to the early days of the band?
“We’re older now, so maybe it’s a little more considered, but as far as getting in a room and writing songs, it’s like riding a bike, you pick it up quickly again.”
You worked with Brian Virtue on the album, why did you decide to work with him?
“Me and Daniel (Wonnacott, bass) used to be in a band called Cosmonaut, which we started the first time Finch broke up. He did a couple tracks with us then and we knew he was a nice guy and his roster wasn’t too bad either. So we mentioned him to the other guys and called him up and asked if he wanted to work with us.”
What kind of producer was he? Laid back? Demanding?
“He was a little more demanding during pre-production, he pushed us and got us out of our comfort zone, which was appreciated, because we arrived thinking ‘These are our songs, they’re all awesome’ and he quickly was like ‘You could probably tweak a few things’. Once we were in the studio, he was quiet and focused, he was exactly what we needed.”
It’s been almost a decade since your last album, so does that mean you’re all bringing vastly different influences to the writing of songs?
“Music’s changed a lot and we have changed collectively. Our tastes aren’t the same and we want to keep it fresh, so it’ll be interesting to see where we go now.”
Tell us about the album’s lyrics…
“Writing lyrics this time around was actually kind of hard. For a 33-year old dude it’s hard to get what you feel down on paper, back then you don’t really care, it’s just getting whatever done on paper, simple songs, simple things. Now I know there’s all kinds of issues and things to talk about, but it’s hard to make them work within a song. It took some time for me to get my lyrical flow together.”
What kind of things were you writing about?
“I’m attracted to the darker side of life. There’s a lot of civilisation crumbling and things falling apart, but with hope at the end. There’s always the opportunity for things to fall apart, but there’s always hope that things will get better. As a band, I think we're still attracting to the darker side of life and always will be.”
Did you go back and listen to your old albums to get yourself back in the Finch headspace?
“Not really. I wanted to work from scratch and start again. New lyrics, new ideas, I listen to our old records every once in a while, but I don’t need to get back in any headspace.”
What’s the camaraderie like within the band? Is it the same? Presumably the way you live your lives are quite different now…
“It’s fair to say that the communication between us is a lot better than it used to be. We’re very open now, everything’s on the table, we talk everything out.”
So what’s already lined up for you guys in terms of touring?
“We’re touring across America and we’re in the process of setting a lot more touring up.”
Do you have the same appetite for touring as you did back in the day?
“Yeah, we’ve been loving playing the songs live, I’m excited to take it out to people.”
Finch’s new album Back To Oblivion will be released on September 29th. You can pre-order it now in hmv stores across the UK. You can download 'Two Guns To The Temple' for free from our download store now.