“Fink has always loved music, but it never occurred to him that he would make a living from it. As a child growing up in Twickenham, his mother, a nurse and part-time folkie, flooded the family home with her records: "I remember being about five listening to Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys and feeling so excited,” Fink says. “It’s a feeling I don’t think you get as an adult. I guess ever since then, music’s been an obsession. There’s really nothing cooler.”
The front man’s formative experiences instilled in him a love for melody bordering on addiction. From 12, Fink began tinkering with instruments, compulsively strumming on guitars and recording tunes on old cassette tapes. But he always shied away from writing his own lyrics. “I didn’t feel I had enough to say,” he shrugs. It wasn’t until Fink was 17 that he found the inspiration to write, although the incident which prompted that doesn’t sound very pleasant.
“I don’t talk about it much,” Fink says, cautiously, “but I had an awful experience at a festival and, to cut a long story short, I nearly died.” The singer won’t go into details, but the incident left him suffering panic attacks, consumed with the reality of his own mortality and convinced him that if he went to sleep he’d never wake up. Yet it was this brush with death and its philosophical fallout which finally sparked Fink’s songwriting. He spent much of a miserable first (and only) year at Manchester University sitting in his bedroom, trying to explore his feelings through his writing.
For a long time, Fink’s songs seem to have been something akin to a diary – a way for him to sort out the muddle in his head, but not something he really expected to share with the outside world. It was Fink’s friend Laura Marling who was largely responsible for changing that, when the now critically lauded artist coaxed Fink on to the road, as her support act in 2006. “Before then, I didn’t take my music at all seriously,” says Fink. “I turned up for that tour with just a ukulele thinking it would be a bit of fun.” It turned out to be much more exciting and satisfying than that, prompting Fink to form Noah And The Whale with fiddler Tom Hobden, bassist Matt Urby and his (Fink’s) drumming brother Doug.
The band began to develop its sound, gigging around London and recording low-key singles for indie label Young And Lost Club. Marling was so impressed with Fink that she recruited him to produce her debut EP and then her first album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, which went on to be shortlisted for this year’s Mercury Prize. Speaking to The Independent back in January, the chanteuse, who lends her golden voice to “5 Years Time” and much of Fink’s album, was gushing in her praise of the band’s talent: “Theirs is the best new music I’ve heard in a very long time,” she said, “I think they’re going to change the world.” (x)
I’ve been meaning to re-find this article for ages.