The Fratellis - Interview
If we have learnt anything from the start of 2018's musical offerings, it is that the indie elite are still very much alive and kicking! The Glasgow-based trio hail from the golden age of the genre and with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and The Wombats having already released new albums this year, The Fratellis are set to do the same. Their 5th record, 'In Your Own Sweet Time' is due for release on the 16th of March. After a week promoting the album in America, their front-man Jon Fratelli to the time to chat to us about the new album, and life in one of the nation's best loved bands.
IN YOUR OWN SWEET TIME
To say that maintaining a high standard of music for over 10 years is not easy, would be an understatement. So many bands struggle to even get a second album recorded, yet The Fratellis have used the instant success of their debut album 'Costello Music' to ride the wave of musical trends, gradually developing new sounds in the process. This could swing either way, sometimes pressuring artists into making music that is outside their capability. However, the 'In Your Own Sweet Time' is evidence that they still have everything required to survive in the modern age of music. Jon himself was confident with the upcoming release - "I couldn't be that much happier with it - We're getting closer and closer to the point where I can listen to a record we've made and not pull it to pieces. It helps if you are able to dissect what you've done afterwards and say 'I wish we'd done this differently' , but we are slowly learning ourselves". Having already released four singles from the record, it seems that, although they have managed to maintain the definitive 'Fratellis' sound, they have made adaptations in keeping with the movement of the indie scene. 'The Next Time We Wed' and 'Stand Up Tragedy' (our personal favourite of the album) display a more electronic element than previously found, but if anyone thought this might take away their distinctive edge, they would be wrong. The developed sound is as infectious as ever, and is described by the band themselves as "all you need is to lose yourself in the moment, In Your Own Sweet Time demands you stop trying to make sense, take off your shoes, and dance. Boasting all the sweaty, joyful energy of 1970's American pop, combined with the testosterone-fuelled virtuosity of the best British rock". It certainly seems to hold the level of intrigue that any fan demands, bursting with the full -throttle combination that gave them their brake! As if this wasn't enough, there is even more on the way! Even though fans have been waiting two years now for the new release Jon claimed "There's at least half of a another new record written as well. We would make them quicker if we could. This comes out in March but we finished writing it in June last year. To me, that's a pretty long time. We tend to build up a bunch of songs quite quickly because that's how I spend my time. The waiting period doesn't frustrate me anymore because I just use it to write new songs."
You cannot achieve this longevity without passion though, and this is clear evidence that the band are simply devoted to their art. He explained how he is always looking to develop, and continues to make music at such a rate simply because "I do what I do because it's the most enjoyable way I can think of spending my time". Well, this love for music certainly comes across when you see them live! They deliver an eccentric storm, fully engaging the audience from start to finish and seem to enjoy themselves just as much as those watching. They head off on tour their album tour on the 22nd of March, starting in one of the few cities that could match their musical energy, Liverpool. If you have any money spare, then it would be mad not to get down to their shows! Their eccentricity doesn't just come across live however, ever since their first singles they have used references to the bizarre. They repeatedly feature the circus as a visual environment for their music to compliment it's intrusive fantasy. Jon explained that "The circus is a slightly surreal place, and for whatever reason, I'm always attracted to the surreal. Surreal will mean different things to different people. For me, I'm not too interested in confessional songwriting - I'm not trying to sell anything lyrically. They were written when an environment was created which was slightly different to your everyday environment, so I guess, with that being the case, they all have that circus/surreal thread running through them. It's probably also a reaction to my life. If you put a camera in my house and watched how I spend my day, you would think I have the most dull life ever! I've always spent a lot of time hanging about my house, playing around with pieces of music , sitting in a chair. That might explain why, lyrically, I tend towards the surreal and alternate fantasy. It's because my real life doesn't interest me".
IN THEIR EARLY SWEET TIME
Of course, with a band like The Fratellis, their current success is shaped so heavily by their past. Breaking through, in 2006 , songs like 'Chelsea Dagger' and 'Henrietta' have become woven into the fabric of indie culture, almost acting as the soundtrack to the mid 00. The lyrics radiated the common feeling of youthful lust and angst at the time. Yet, 12 years on, they are more mature, but how have things changed? Jon felt that "In lots of ways it feels exactly the same. If no one listened and nobody cared, I would still do this, it's just an added bonus that someone wants to pay it for us as well. So nothing has changed in that regard, and yet everything has changed in every other way. I don't get nervous anymore ... once we've made the record, my job is done. It's a really nice thing if people like it, but I've got nothing hanging on that. My life is centered around making it. I can only imagine what it would be like if your life was centered around what people thought of it, that would be a pretty painful life to lead." However, it often hard to bring your fans along the same journey of development when they are so transfixed on certain songs. Talking about Chelsea Dagger, Jon commented that "What entertains me now isn't what entertained me 10 years ago . It doesn't hold me back personally, but I have no connection with it anymore. This is understandable, but what makes the trio commendable is there gratitude to the fans. Unlike some artists, famously Radiohead, who stay distant from their fans and refuse to play their hit tracks, The Fratellis have a different view. They are in a "state of constant gratitude" and interact with the fans as much as possible on social media. In fact, they have recently run a Valentine's themed trend, asking fans to send in photos with their loved ones using the artwork for their latest single 'Starcrossed Lovers'. In terms of performing live, Jon also understood their requirement to keep on playing these songs. "It's been 12 years now that we've been able to go out ... Why it keeps working? I have no idea, I'm just really glad that it does When every individual buys a ticket, you make a deal with them, which is for us to try and give them everything that they want and they are perfectly entitled to demand that". So if you were worried about an hour full of unfamiliar songs, then don't start panicking, all the old favourites will be played. However, by the sounds of it, the new album might just love up to the old standard.
FROM THEIR SWEET FANS (Twitter Q's)
Would you consider recording an acoustic album? - "Not really, I'm not a huge fan of stripped down anything. The whole idea of taking a song that has been layered and constructed in a particular way, and then deconstructing it to play on an acoustic guitar just doesn't excite me that much. A whole record of that is my worst nightmare."
If you could compose a soundtrack for a director who would it be? - "Well Woody Allen is my favourite director. These days that is probably quite a controversial thing to say but he is. He's always picked the perfect music for the movies he's directed and it plays a big part of his films."
Do you have a favourite memory from touring? - "I'm lucky if I have any memory from touring to be honest, but I love it generally. I don't necessarily enjoy all the travelling, but we get to the one thing we are qualified to do each night!"