'We've played some great shows in the last year,' enthuses Fink from his home in Brighton. He's not kidding, having performed live with his band at the Birmingham and Manchester Academies, Brighton Dome, Colston Hall in Bristol and a string of other venues in support of Zero 7 in the Spring of last year, before hitting the festival circuit with shows at The Big Chill, Bestival, Green Man, and Fruitstock to name but a few. Fink's debut album for Ninja Tune, 'Biscuits for Breakfast,' marked a seismic shift for the label - shelving samples and turntablism in favour of an acoustic guitar and great songs. The record, distinguished by its squeaking fret boards and disarmingly autobiographical lyrics, caught the attention of audiences worldwide. Over a hundred Fink shows across Europe, including dates at the Electron and JazzOnze festivals, were followed by an intense tour of North America, where Fink, together with bassist Guy Whittaker and drummer Tim Thornton, jetted between seven cities in nine days after having received the Single of the Week slot from iTunes US. Since then, Fink has made special appearances with Nitin Sawhney at the 2007 Electric Proms and throughout a 6-night sold-out run at London's Jazz Café last December. He and the band are now due to play the esteemed Cognac Blues festival at the end of July, with Fink making another special guest appearance with Nitin Sawhney at the Royal Albert Hall in August as part of this years Proms.
While the lyrics on Fink's follow-up album, 'Distance and Time,' retain his trademark tension and honest lines of observation, the record feels more sophisticated and somewhat larger than the last, book-ended by the strung out, softly spoken anger of 'Trouble is What You're In' and the grunting power chords of 'Little Blue Mailbox.' Fink feels that was a direct result of this experience on the road. 'We did 'Biscuits for Breakfast' completely backwards,' he explains. 'It was recorded before we'd ever done a gig, while bands normally have to gig for a while before they get a record deal, then get into the studio. This time around we've been on the road for a year and the whole experience has given us some insight into what it takes to headline these places.' If you live in the UK, chances are you've heard lead single 'This is the Thing' as it currently graces a primetime TV ad campaign for MasterCard. 'It was weird to hear myself on telly,' Fink admits. 'To think that three or four million people have hard your voice during Coronation Street is certainly a bit strange!'
'But for me, it's really all about performing live. I DJ'd for years, so was totally used to going to a strange town, getting up on the stage, and spinning great records,' Fink explains, 'but playing your own material has ten times the intensity, as people are judging not just the songs, but the performance and the vibe of the venue. The Zero 7 tour was really intense as they'd booked us after our fourth ever gig and we were performing in Shepherds Bush Empire on our fifteenth - somewhere all three of us had wanted to play at some point of our lives. That whole period was like being in a movie; a blur of Travel Lodges and sound checks. It fuel injected our ambition in much the same way that touring the US did for us, playing CMJ in a Brooklyn venue, our own sold-out headliner at Joe's Pub in Manhattan, and SXSW where we followed The Rapture.'
'I'd already recorded a few new track ideas between putting out the last album and touring,' he continues. 'Late last year we had a bit of space to think and began to work on some sketches, before Andy Barlow came on board to produce the record. He has a great pair of ears, and working with him really allowed us to concentrate on being musicians. Guy was able to just be amazing on bass, rather than also having to engineer. Tim was able to play rather than recreate a drum loop I'd written in my loft, while I could put everything I could into being the singer and the guitar player rather than fiddling around as a producer trying to make the bass sound deeper or the snare crisper.'
'With the last album, I was very conscious about making my emotions public, and it crossed my mind that I may have had a problem taking that forward. At first, I hoped my writing would become more abstract, in that I would be able to imagine scenarios and write about them, but I think that writing from real experience has to come from the heart, and that's what people relate to. It's not that I'm unlucky in love or anything,' he adds, laughing, 'I just think that you go through so much when a relationship breaks down that there may be a song for each tiny nuance of emotion that you feel.' There's a pause, as Fink takes a long drag on his cigarette, 'Maybe I just think too hard.'