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Finch’s Nate Barcalow: “We Were Out Of Touch With Ourselves, With Our Genre, With The Scene”

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 14 August 2014 at 13.27

Finch are officially a band again. Not only that, they're headlining Hevy Fest this Friday, and their long-awaited third album 'Back To Oblivion' is coming out this September. Rock Sound scribe Rob Sayce caught up with the band's frontman Nate Barcalow to talk about the past, the present, and - if there is one - the future...



WHAT’S PROMPTED YOU TO MAKE FINCH A FULL-TIME BAND AGAIN? A LOT OF PEOPLE DO REUNION TOURS, AND THEN FIZZLE OUT...

Says vocalist Nate Barcalow: “Well, we did the tenth anniversary tour, and things kept getting bigger and bigger. Originally there were supposed to be two shows in America and one in London, and that would be it. But more people were coming out, more and more promoters were coming forward wanting to put on shows, so to be honest, it got us excited again. When we got done with that, as a group we thought ‘what if we started writing some new music, and see what happens?’ A few songs later, we were talking about making a record: and with that comes touring, the whole ‘being a band’ thing! It came about naturally, from being excited about Finch, and wanting to see if we could give it another go.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS ABOUT WRITING NEW MUSIC?

“In the beginning, we didn’t really know the direction of the band anymore. We were out of touch with ourselves, with our genre, with the scene and all that. I never kept up with anything. Some of our first songs were good, some of them definitely weren’t as good, and it took a while to get there. But we eventually progressed onto something interesting. There was no rhyme or reason to it, in all honesty.”

THE NEW ALBUM ‘BACK TO OBLIVION’ IS QUITE A DIVERSE LISTEN, TOO...

“Yeah, I guess that’s our thing! We make something very different each time. It keeps it interesting for us; the idea of repeating a record we’ve already done, it seems redundant. With that being said, we just wrote something with a mature, fresh sound... but with roots in the other two records, I’d say. It’s a little more detached, and taken as a whole it’s completely different. I like that as a listener, I would prefer that with my favourite bands. This time it’s a fresh start for us, and a fresh start musically. We don’t necessarily sound like ourselves!”

HOW DID YOU FIND THE EXPERIENCE OF WORKING TOGETHER AGAIN, CREATIVELY?

“We all knew what we were getting into, you know? I thought it was going to be a lot easier, but we hadn’t written together in a long time – especially with [Alex] Pappas, our drummer, who originally left in 2004. It was different, but as we went on through the process, we found our niche a bit more. It ended up being a lot of work, and I hope that comes through in the songs. We took our time with it, were careful with our musical decisions, and I think it shows.”


The artwork for 'Back To Oblivion'; released September 29 through Spinefarm

WHERE DID THE TITLE COME FROM? IT’S AN INTERESTING NAME FOR A COMEBACK RECORD...

“‘Back To Oblivion’ is kind of tongue-in-cheek. I came up with the lyrics for that particular song, and it was essentially about me being thrown back into the whole band experience, of touring and being in a working band again. It’s the whole scenario, wrapped into a song. It’s like being thrown into oblivion, learning to fend for ourselves again and seeing if we can reinvent or find ourselves out there. I started coming up with more lyrics inspired by that idea of ‘back to oblivion’, and it ended up becoming something totally different.

I started to tell this story of a society that breaks itself down, with themes of resurrection. When everything is lost and this society is ultimately terminated, there are only a few people remaining that have nothing left, except their hope that things will get better. It’s a darker theme; anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m attracted to the dark side, a little bit. I didn’t want it to be a concept record, but I guess it ended up as one. Those ideas tie together a lot of the lyrics, and even the musical tone. I’m not sure how many listeners will pick up on it, but it has a desperate vibe to it: starting off as very normal, and turning into something a lot more destructive. At the end there’s a feeling of minimalism, of there not being much to cling onto. I felt like I was writing a science fiction screenplay or something, but when you think about it, it’s quite relevant to how the world works now. As a society we can be very self-destructive, sometimes without even knowing it. You’ve got to fend for yourself, and have the hope that things can change. At the end it’s a positive message, but there’s a lot of grit in there too.”

TALKING OF BEING THROWN BACK OUT THERE – HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT GOING BACK TO THE TOURING LIFESTYLE?

“I love what I do, don’t get me wrong, but I did get to a point during the ‘Say Hello To Sunshine’ touring where I turned my back on the fans and built a wall. I was breaking down, didn’t want to entertain anyone anymore, or even be in a band. No matter how much you want to do something, it doesn’t always work out. So I was really frustrated with the whole thing. Coming back to it was scary, because you never know what’s going to happen. There’s no guarantee that people will still like your band, or accept the music you’ve put your heart into. That’s the idea behind it, throwing ourselves out into the open and seeing what happens. We’ll either find our way back, or not. It’s a challenge…”

DID YOU ENJOY THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY TOUR?

“I was nervous for sure, but a few songs into it, you remember what made you want to do it in the first place. And let’s face it –everyone loves ‘What It Is To Burn’. People sing along, and it pumps you up. It was a part of my life for so long, and I was very thankful to be able to do that again. That tour was a reminder that people were definitely behind us at one point, especially on that record. It can get frustrating, people comparing everything we do to that. A lot of people want to remember their favourite bands for who they were, the first time they heard them: but bands can’t totally adhere to that for their whole career. That would be boring. If the fans aren’t going to grow with you, there’s no point.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF FINCH, AT THIS POINT?

“We won’t know much about the next couple of years until this record comes out. It could be a success, it could not. I’m waiting for that, personally. For now, the idea is to stick around, keep playing and making music as long as people want to hear it. But with this record, you never know. We played Warped Tour this summer, and I didn’t feel like we really belonged there. A lot of the bands were really young and I didn’t know who they were, we were a little out of place. But on the other hand, a lot of kids would approach us at signings and say ‘I’d never heard your band before today, and I really like you guys’. That makes it all worth it, in a way. If we’re still getting new fans, we must be doing something right. I think we’re going the right way.”

COOL. FINALLY, WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FROM YOUR HEVY HEADLINE PERFORMANCE?

“I think we’ll be mixing it up this time. There’ll be a couple of new songs, some stuff from ‘Say Hello To Sunshine’, and a lot of ‘What It Is To Burn’. The beauty of Finch shows is that they’re kind of unpredictable: we don’t really plan anything. Things just happen, and sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not. I like that element, of going onstage and not knowing what’s going to happen. We’ll play our hearts out for people, but there’s really no guarantee how it’s going to go! It’s a case of doing what we do.”

Interview by Rob Sayce.

Finch headline Hevy Fest this Friday, August 15 in Port Lympne, Kent. Tickets and full info on the festival can be found at www.hevyfest.com.

Their long-awaited third album 'Back To Oblivion' will be released on September 29 through Spinefarm.

For more on Finch, head over to backtooblivion.com

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