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Singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner tells William Mata he has been set free in releasing a new sound – and why he loves playing smaller venues – ahead of his visit to The Apex in Bury St Edmunds

His distinctive ginger dreadlocks just about remain, but Newton Faulkner is in the mood to do things differently.

The folk favourite has taken a ‘chunky’ new direction and just released new tracks Together and Sinking Sand. There is no album (at least immediately) on the way, and for the sake of this year he’s looking forward to playing in some of the smallest venues he’s toured in years.

And that’s good news for fans in Bury St Edmunds, with the 35-year-old set to play The Apex on May 6.

Newton Faulkner (31321059)
Newton Faulkner (31321059)

“We are not doing a traditional tour in support of an album, this is a bit different and it is coming together quite slowly,” he says.

“The first two tracks are out now. It is different to anything I have done before. These are songs I have held in my back pocket for a little while.

“It has gone down spectacularly well online – people have even sent me videos of them singing them in their cars.”

Faulkner broke out in 2006, establishing his percussive guitar style on debut album Hand Built by Robots – which reached number one. He backed this up with five more LPs, all released within an eight year hot streak.

But come 2019, Faulkner was ready to ‘draw a line in the sand’ with release of The Very Best of Newton Faulkner. . . So Far and its subsequent tour.

“I agreed to do it with the understanding that I could do something new at the end of it,” he said.

“It is really exciting to work on such different material, and by the time I play the gigs, more tracks will have dropped.”

“Going on tour, I am still playing old stuff,” he added, with favourites Dream Catch Me, Write on Your Skin and If This is It making it onto his most recent setlists.

“But I might take these songs and rearrange them, which should be fun. It is a hugely experimental year, and these shows will be the first chance to hear them live.”

Faulkner says he has toured the world to the extent that he can’t remember everywhere he has been. But he is excited to play in Bury and feels the same rush playing a small show as he does a big scale one.

“I did the Isle of Wight Festival to 55,000 people one time and then I got straight on a plane to go and do a bar in America. It had the same energy!

“I like doing a little bit of everything, massive festivals to tiny gigs, and love the intensity of smaller shows.”

He added: “I did not realise how much I was talking about a need to do something different, but looking back at interviews, I could see the same things were coming up.

“I was telling people it would be different, so going into the studio I was thinking that being different was something I was going to have to now do!

“A lot of artists are happy to keep doing the same thing, but that is not for me.

“But last Friday was a scary day when the tracks dropped and I was wondering what was going to happen. So it was amazing to see the reaction and so many people getting into it.”

Faulkner is taking a new direction musically when the industry is also going through a change. His greatest hits album did not break the UK top 50, but this was ‘expected’ with artists now looking to make most of their revenue from touring.

He also feels it is as hard, if not harder, to stay successful rather than break out in the first place.

“America has ‘legends’, whereas here you have ‘old people’,” he says on the difficulty to stay relevant in the UK.

“The whole industry has completely changed in my time. I used to be big on Myspace, but that feels a long time ago. Everything has shifted and it is about adapting to that.

“The traditional structure of putting together a large body of work has moved on. The way the whole thing works now is that you can tour more, release more and keep things moving all of the time. It is better for everybody really.”

Newton Faulkner, Wednesday, May 6, 8pm, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds. Call 01284 758000 or visit theapex.co.uk