It's been exactly five years
since Charlie Fink and his musical band of friends - his brother Doug on drums, Tom "Fiddle" Hobden on violin, Matt "Urby Whale" Owens on harmonium and bass and Laura Marling
on backing vocals - first appeared on the London nu-folk circuit, their moniker a conflation of a famous indie film
and its director: Noah and the Whale
The essential NATW timeline:
- first gig at the Betsey Trotwood, playing to the sound engineer plus an audience of 7.
- their Wes Anderson-esque antics for the bittersweet whistle & ukulele ditty Five Years Time
quickly gather them a following: the song becomes a summer hit and eventually reaches #7 in the UK charts. (Together with their own original upload, it's currently at over four million YT views.)
- performance at Jeremy Warmsley's house in the WelcomeToOurTVShow series.
- experimenting his cinematic inclination, Charlie directs an early video: 2 Bodies 1 Heart.
- Charlie produces Laura Marling's first album Alas, I Cannot Swim, which is later nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize.
- their gear is stolen, and then recovered.
- their first album, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down
, debuts at #5 on the UK charts, and earns them one scathing critique
- Laura Marling leaves the band - and Charlie Fink (for Marcus Mumford
- NATW play for Vincent Moon's Take-Away Show #91, shot in Paris.
- NATW tour the US and licensed their hit song for Saturn and Sun Chips commercials.
- they record an as-yet unreleased punk album, including covers of Daniel Johnston, Jens Lekman, and Jackson C. Frank.
- with a new line-up they release their second album, First Days of Spring
, an in-depth exploration
of Fink's heartbreak
, published both as a CD and as a 40-minute album film (that you can watch here
- they record a beautifully intimate acoustic version of Blue Skies
at the WFUV's Alternate Side.
- NATW contribute a cover of Tom Petty's Last DJ to protest the proposed closure of BBC6.
- after an extended tour of Europe and the UK, they begin recording their new album in studios in Bethnal Green and Venice Beach.
- their third album, Last Night on Earth
marks a further transformation
for the band, and reaches #8 on the UK charts. As a corollary to the recording, they publish a cinematic look
into their creative process
, including all the original demos
for the album. You can also watch their sing-along anthem L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. as filmed by Charlie
or else as performed live at the recent Reading Festival
, as well as a great video (shot by Autumn de Wilde
) for Life Is Life
- NATW's recent covers and collaborations include a track with Charlotte Gainsbourg and a version of John Cale's Barracuda for a BBC1 session.
- hear their whole Sasquatch 2011 set here on NPR.
So, here's to... five more years