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LAist Interview: Newton Faulkner

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British musician Newton Faulkner has been compared with everyone from Eddie Vedder to Jack Johnson, but I think Rolling Stone said it best when they declared, “If Prince was an English hippie who was obsessed with Bobby McFerrin-esque percussion and had long cinnamon dreadlocks, you'd have Faulkner.”

His first album, Hand Built by Robots has gone double platinum in the UK and is picking up steam in the United States. Faulkner will play the Troubadour tonight and it should be quite a show. In addition to his soaring vocals and hilarious banter between songs, his guitar skills are captivating. Guitar-based percussion and harmonics mesh so flawlessly with everything else he's doing on the instrument that people often don't believe that all that sound can be coming from one guitar. LAist caught up with Faulkner before yesterday's Tonight Show performance to discuss the album, SpongeBob SquarePants, advice from Roger Daltrey, and how acrylic nails are great for guitar percussion.

LAist: You begin the album with a short instrumental piece and conclude with a brief lullaby. Was that something you had planned from the beginning, or was it something you added later?

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Faulkner: I really wanted to make an album that you could listen to from start from finish. My goal was something that felt complete rather than a collection of singles along with some songs that weren’t quite good enough to be singles.

I used to start all of my gigs with that intro. It’s also a way of introducing what I do. When I was supporting other artists, I was really amused by the fact that people would stop talking for a few moments when I stepped out on stage with an acoustic guitar, then they would start talking again once I started playing because they figured “Oh, it’s just another guy with an acoustic guitar.” So I kind of played to that. The first bit of the intro was quite sweet and not beyond what you’d expect, and at that point everyone was still talking. It progressed a little bit, and by that point some people were mildly interested because it wasn’t just strumming. Then when I brought in the percussive stuff, suddenly everyone stopped talking and would shuffle around trying to look behind me to see where all that sound was coming from. It was really fun.