Hello, Newton! How are you doing at the moment?
I’m incredibly well at the moment. It’s been a really good couple of days. I went to a film premiere, a red-carpet do for Twilight: New Moon. I wasn’t that bothered, but my sister’s obsessed with it and I had a plus-one, so I had to take her. The reporters were saying, ‘So you must be a fan of the film!’ And I was saying, ‘Actually, I haven’t seen it, but my sister would have murdered me in my sleep if I hadn’t got her here.’ That line got me out of a lot of trouble.
That’s you sorted for a Christmas present then, eh?
Yeah – birthday and Christmas all in one! If only I’d got her to meet the cast before they ran off, I’ve have been set for the next five years.
So you’ve got a new album out: Rebuilt by Humans. How’s it gone in the studio?
I’ve started persevering more; before, I felt like if it wasn’t quite right I should put it to one side, but now I’ve been pushing and pushing and some good things have come out of it. If you battle for something, you can create something amazing.
Does it sound different?
I’ve been trying to expand it in every direction, so that the big parts are bigger than those on the first album and the smaller parts are smaller. The idea is that the first album could fit inside the second one. There are also tracks that are just vocals and guitar on this one, which was something I wanted on the first album, but it was always, ‘No, it doesn’t sound good enough.’ But this time I was more hands-on with the production.
Speaking of hands-on, you slipped and hurt your hand at the end of last year, didn’t you? Is the metal plate still in there?
That’ll be in for the rest of my life, I think. I fractured my radius and chipped a bit off the end, which was bad. But they kitted me out with some new titanium technology, and it’s an amazing piece of metalwork. You can see the x-ray for yourself in the album inlay under the CD; it looks like a cross between a washing-up brush and a rake.
You should’ve got an FM radio put in there while they were at it.
I was pushing for Wolverine spikes, but they wouldn’t let me. Apparently that would be unethical.
Yeah, and it’s not like you’re not easy enough to spot already. Are you ever bothered by fans?
Not really. There’s no barrier between me and the crowd; it’s always very back and forth. So if someone’s seen me live and then in the street, it’s not a screaming crazy thing, it’s like, ‘Hey man, how you doing?’ I’ve had three-hour conversations with people who asked me to sign CDs. This time I’m pushing the TV stuff a bit more, so that’ll change things. But we’ll see how much.
Rebuilt by Humans is available in stores now
A few little-known Newton facts…
He’s the stuff of Latino nightmares
‘I wanted to be a superhero for years. I actually have a secret superhero plan for when I completely lose my mind. I’m going to go to Cuba, because the Cuban equivalent of the bogeyman is a pirate called Redbeard. So I could grow my beard really big, get a Batman suit and go and do some stuff over there.’
He doesn’t understand the company he keeps
‘I find it weird the people I get grouped in with. It was on my first CD: “the British Jack Johnson”. I don’t think I sound particularly like Jack Johnson. I’ve never got that. I mean, I can see why we might be grouped together in HMV – we’re both men, we both play guitars, there are some vague parallels. But I’ve never got that.’
People have some strange ideas about his business practices
‘There’s a good story about me closing the whole Empire State Building so I could have a meeting at the top. I remember sitting at home with my mum, and my mum going, “When did you do that?” and me saying, “I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen.’”
He suffered during his childhood for having old-school manners
‘One of my most vivid childhood memories is of going to a shopping centre and holding the door open for my mum to go through. Then I thought if I let go of the door, it would swing shut really hard and hit someone. And there was this endless stream of people, and I was stuck holding the door. I watched my mum walk off, and I was quite tiny at the time. By the time probably about 200 people had walked through the door, I was still standing there holding it and crying. I just assumed that it would swing really hard and might destroy a granny or something.’