“I’d kind of looked identical since I was about 16; also, musically and the stage I’m at in my career, it was time for a change across the board,” explains Newton Faulkner when I ask him if shedding his trademark dreadlocks was, in part, a statement about a new chapter in his music.
Human Love is the Brit nominee’s fifth studio album, and was released in November last year. Hailed as one of the nicest guys in pop, Faulkner always attempts to give his albums a different flavour each time, while still staying true to his folky roots.
With Human Love, he says that he wanted something a little more menacing than before. “You have core principles, which appear really early, so with this one it was just drums. Drums were the main focus because with stuff we’ve done in the past, we’ve been quite ‘polite’ with drums. When it came down to record company input towards the end of the process, they tended to make everything a bit nicer than I wanted it to be.”
This new release failed to set the charts alight unlike his previous albums, charting quite modestly just outside of the Top 40, but Faulkner says that he never feels pressurised by success or potential failure when he makes a record. “I think you feel as much pressure as you kind of allow yourself to,” he begins. “I think you just have to do what you do, I mean I’ve always kind of occupied my own, strange little corner of the music industry, where no one else is. I have a nice time, though,” he laughs.
Although chart success was not on his mind, Faulkner was definitely thinking about how his new songs would transfer to live gigs. “I didn’t think about it at all last time, but I definitely was this time. I’m constantly experimenting with different methods of doing things, one thing I’ve always avoided is any kind of formula. I love just testing myself and pushing my own limits.”
This spring sees him undertaking a UK tour in support of Human Love. With four Top 10 albums already in his discography, Faulkner’s crowds will certainly be expecting to hear some old favourites. How does he balance the oldies with the new material? “Honestly, we’ll get in as much as we possibly can of everything. I’m not enough of a b****** to cut out the stuff that people like just because I’m bored of playing it – it seems like a really cruel thing to do!”
Newton Faulkner plays at O2 Academy Leeds on March 31. For details visit http://newtonfaulkner.com/