By Jason Noonan
Having spent the past three years working on a new album, touring the UK and becoming a father, some may consider Newton Faulkner’s life utterly exhausting. He, however, sums it up in one word: “amazing”.
With his third studio album shooting straight to the top of the UK charts in July this year, Newton retains his chilled out persona as he recalls the moment her heard he had made number one.
“I found out during a gig, when someone behind me stood up and whispered it to me, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone,” he says. “It was really hard not to with a crowd of thousands right there. Eventually I got to go out and celebrate after the performance.”
Speaking about how this album’s release was different from his last, Newton explains that faster technology can make it hard to keep up with how quickly you’re climbing the charts. “It was amazing but strange this time around,” he says. “I don’t remember anywhere near as much information being available [before]. I remember when you would get information about your album on the midweeks, then finally on a Sunday to see where it has landed. Now you can see how well it’s doing anytime, it’s exhausting.”
Stepping away from his usual robot theme for this album title [his previous two albums were named Hand Built By Robots and Rebuilt By Humans] Newton explains why he chose the name Write It On Your Skin. “I just really enjoy the kind of imagery it brings up,” he says. “There are so many different ideas, from tattoos and phone numbers to cheating in exams; it just brings up a lot of bizarre stuff.”
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After spending time working with songwriters at various locations around the globe, he was keen to explain why he left the darker, sadder songs out this time.
“I did write another album, ready to go last year, which was really dark, kind of depressing really. I guess I wrote this new album in reaction to that; I just wanted something a bit more upbeat. It’s not down to what I’m writing really, it’s down to what the fans like. When I write something and I ask, ‘do you like that?’ and they say ‘yeah’, I’m like cool, let’s do more of that. Then it kind of feeds itself and just keeps rolling.”
And of those songs that kept rolling, does he have a favourite? “I wouldn’t have chosen them [for the album] if they weren’t all great in my eyes. However, the one which stands out most is Sugar In The Snow; it finalises the album exactly how I wanted it to, and rounds things off perfectly.”
Not just content with cracking the UK, Newton explains how a spell Down Under made him more driven to take his performance abroad. “Australia was really reactive, in a way that nowhere else is,” he says. “They really showed up for the gigs and totally got behind me while I was out there. That’s why I really want to hit Europe next. I definitely feel it’s time to hit Europe harder, then America down the line.
“I think we are going to do that in a different way, with smaller gigs this time. I don’t really want to burst in there like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got loads of albums guys, you better get on this!’”
Not just known for his vocals and talent on the guitar, Newton’s trademark ginger dreadlocks are one of his most recognisable traits. His unusual hairstyle is what has helped many fans to spot him on the street, but what would happen if he cut it all off?
“Oh God, I have no idea,” he laughs. “I have heard of other artists doing it and shocking their fans, but with me I don’t know. One day I might just decide to cut it all off and see what happens.”
Newton’s third album Write It On Your Skin is out now