In Conversation: Fink

In Conversation: Fink

Fin Greenall on his continuing obsession with songwriting...

With ‘Bloom Innocent’, the exceptional new album from Fink, recently released and finding its way into the gleeful and grateful ears of listeners the world over, it felt like an optimal time for Clash to catch up with this band, one of the most understatedly glorious and yet criminally-underrated acts around today.

Haydon Spenceley posed the questions to Fink’s lead singer, Fin Greenall.

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You’ve been working on the Fink project for a good while now, with piles of studio albums, a remix album and a couple of great live records in your discography already. ‘Bloom Innocent’, the new album, still manages to sound fresh and as vital as ever. What helps you keep that vitality as you approach each new record?

Piles of albums – true that!

It’s been quite a journey in music so far… thanks for the love – I think 'Bloom Innocent' is like a fresh sound for me. I really wanted to put more music into my record – so it was about the songs, sure, but also about the freedom of music to spend as much time as it wants to breathing and being and just having the freedom and space to be it’s own thing.

Every new record to me is like a blank page, but one I’m not daunted by at all, just one experience that has never changed since my first release as a student back in the 90’s – the day starts with silence and can occasionally end with tracks as beautiful as ‘We Watch The Stars’ – OK – not every day is like that – but when they are it’s the best feeling in the world – and one I still adore – the creation of something new, beautiful and free…

Tell me about the writing process behind Fink songs. Are they collective efforts?

Some are, some aren’t – the intensely private moments on my records are obviously just that, intensely private lyrically, but the boys always help me take what is essentially the same song written over and over, like me and my guitar for instance, and give it something new, new musical angles. We all come from different places and so we all bring different baggage and musical horizons…

On this new record there are some mighty collective efforts such as the track ‘I Just Want A Yes’ or ‘We Watch The Stars’ – full band, brass, strings, big drums, electronics – everyone just having a great time contributing to the musical cause… Flood is of course the absolute cherry on the cake – a sonic patron who can guide us to the finish line and give us the courage to push ourselves further…

Vocally and lyrically, there often seems to be a careworn world-weariness to the work and world of Fink. Am I wrong? What gives you hope?

Well – I would certainly agree that’s the case leading up to this record – weariness – no – like reflective sure. I definitely live the life and so love writing about it – so it’s real. On this new set however, I think it’s very optimistic at times, like a new, lighter, more grounded approach to songs and music. Just like everyone else I love new music and have a radio show on KCRW Berlin – which is a beautiful focus for my hunt for new sounds. So that gets fed back into the machine in a way.

I listen to new music all the time, get inspired by old music all the time, and just love the fact that every year there are records yet to be released that will be the soundtrack to my year. It still gives me that optimistic glow – I hope my records contribute to others’ soundtracks too – they are certainly mine – in fact after so many records, the years kinda blur into one another…

I kinda judge life by album cycles now!

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Do you have a favourite song on the new record? If so, why?

My favourite song I think is ‘We Watch The Stars’. It was recorded live, in one take, and in one day in the studio with my friend Tomer who features quite heavily on the record. It’s one of the few occasions where I actually had the piece in my head before we started, the whole journey kinda mapped out, and as I said earlier, we started the day with a coffee in my Berlin studio and by the end of the day we had tracked this wonderful kinda galactic epic.

I originally recorded the vocals and guitar live as a kind of guide to build the structure of the track with, but it just came out so good we kept it and built everything around it. I love how optimistic it is, how emotionally kinda spot on it is in relation to what I wanted to feel when hearing it…

How was the recording process this time around? Any good stories from the studio to share with our readers?

The recording process this time around, as always, and maybe that’s how we keep it kinda fresh for us, was different. Flood and I sat down after the Resurgam cycle had ended and kinda chewed the fat about what was good and not so good. About me and him doing the whole rock 'n' roll in the studio for months thing… this time I did everything in private in my Berlin studio at Silent Green, and then had basically an audio conversation back and forth with Flood on the tracks.

Some, like ‘Once You Get A Taste’, were very long conversations indeed! It’s funny how the simple ones end up maybe being the most difficult to get right… many trips to London were had to get each track just right. Flood definitely taught me fully that a record is finished when it’s awesome – and not before – originally the record was slated to be released next year – but we finished early and thought – let’s get it out there…

You have a fairly extensive European tour coming up, including a not-to-be-missed stop in London. Do you have favourite places to play?

Yeah – many favourite cities out there – this tour is actually a third of the size of the last one, but I had to tour the USA this year after toooooo long away from it, so therefore we had to cut our European tour down. We cannot wait for our Roundhouse debut in London – I’m sure I’m gonna love it… my friends tell me it’s a really vibey place to play.

Honestly, we have our fave spots in Europe – Paradiso in Amsterdam, Cigalle in Paris, Loftas in Vilnius, Tempodrome in Berlin – but honestly – we just love to play – wherever man.

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You play in Europe a lot. What do you think it is about Fink that appeals to European audiences?

I think it’s because we go there a lot. We respect our audience in Europe a lot and have spent time and money building new markets and routes so we can visit often and properly. Europe is a big place!

I think Europe is also maybe slightly less age obsessed than the UK, which tends to get buffeted by the worlds obsession with the “new thing”, which, to be fair, we aren’t – and honestly – I’m at peace with that. I’m just glad we have an audience – I would say the UK is one of our smallest – but doesn’t mean we don’t want to deliver the best show we got every time.

Everyone, everywhere wants the UK and instead of getting bruised and battered elbowing for space - I guess from the early days we were cool with letting that fight happen with us touring Europe and not getting caught up in it…

For those who've not seen you before, what should be expected from a Fink live show?

Well – we bring everything we can to the show – currently we have the original trio – and then Nicky Hustinx on drums as well – and on the All Give Tour we’ll have Tomer on strings and guitars and keys and stuff. We’ll drop some new stuff for sure, but we won’t neglect the old stuff.

Every time we go out with a different group of players they get like a natural upgrade y’know. So we can’t wait to hear what they sound like too – some stuff that got cut from the last tour will definitely make an appearance on this one – I think we’ll resurrect ‘Perfect Darkness’, maybe even dip back to the 'Distance And Time’ record for a few golden moments.

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What other music is really exciting you at the moment?

I love the New York and LA indie scene – they’re really doing it – I love this beautiful new record from Bonniesongs out of Australia, naturally mildly obsessed with Yorke’s latest, love the Black Midi record, the Girl In Red stuff is fantastic.

Whilst on tour in North America we found a book by the rock van – 1001 songs to listen to before you die – we saw it as a sign and we got from 1913 to 1978 – so – lots of different music – check out my radio show on KCRW BERLIN to check out what I’m into like right now!

Lots of post punk, new indie, and a hefty dose of anything from North Carolina…

Finally, what are your hopes for ‘Bloom Innocent’?

That people take the time to check it out – everyone’s lives are crazy busy – ours too – it can be hard to make time to make new musical friends, so I hope people get the chance to take the time to make friends with 'Bloom Innocent', and get something new out of it…

And come and see us live this year if you can – I’m amped for this tour!

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'Bloom Innocent' is out now.

Catch Fink at the following shows:

16 London Roundhouse
17 Manchester O2 Ritz

Words: Haydon Spenceley
Photo Credit: Paolo Barretta

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