The Fratellis Talk To Us About Their Comeback and New Album [INTERVIEW]

Posted on: June 13th, 2013 at 11:23 am by

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[Photo: The Fratellis]

The Fratellis famously made waves in the US several years ago in Apple’s iPod campaign. The three-piece Scot-rock band then proceeded to have their tracks played in Amstel ads and on the UK’s hilariously crass display of adolescence, better known as The Inbetweeners. The frenzied enthusiasm of their debut, Costello Music, hooked from the get-go. Then the band fell by the wayside after the release of sophomore album, Here We Stand, and ended up cancelling the remainder of their US tour.

But good news: The Fratellis are back! They have a new image, a new album on the way, and a new perspective on success. While waiting for their third record to drop, they’ve been touring the European circuit, hitting up festivals and gigs here and there. We were fortunate to speak at length with lead vocalist and guitarist, Jon Fratelli, and found out more about the band’s much-anticipated return to the music scene.

Bowery Boogie: The last time you were touring in the states was 2007. You cancelled the remainder of your Here We Stand tour and that was the last we saw of The Fratellis – until now. A comeback?

Jon Fratelli: I’d actually forgotten that we cancelled the last of those dates. I can’t even believe that was in 2007 – it was such a long time ago. Who even knows why and how we started to play together again. There’s something nice about playing music with your friends. It’s a sort of a simple pleasure, and I’d forgotten that.  You pick up the guitar, you go and play some music with your friends – and that’s not a bad way to spend your life. Realizing this was a good thing. By the time we played some gigs together, I thought, “Well that was okay – that wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, we should probably make a record then.” So we made a record. Now we’re in the stage – that interminable stage – of having finished the record and waiting on it to come out, which will be this September/October.

BB: Did you stay in touch with the other two Fratellis – were you on good terms during the hiatus?

JF: I’m always guilty of not being the best at staying in touch or being the most available. It’s something I must work at. If we haven’t spoken to each other or done anything together in awhile, it’s incredible how quickly we can just sort of pick up where we left off. That’s kind of what happened. All of the same goods and bads are still there, and that’s the reality of being in a band together. I think possibly, if anything has changed, we’ve gotten better at just sort of letting each other be the way we are, and not letting it bug at you too much. We want to keep life as easy as possible.

BB: You were involved in various side projects since the band’s break – how was that experience different from when you were with The Fratellis?

JF: The thing I realized was that [The Fratellis] had an audience. If you’re lucky enough to have an audience, you can put shows on and people want to come see it. It’s not to be taken for granted, because the one thing I learned from my other projects is that you’re starting from scratch again. It’s sort of exciting at the very beginning, but then when you play gigs to, like, fifty people, you realize that wow, it can be different. It takes a lot to build an audience. And The Fratellis did that. We’ve only done maybe about fifteen gigs in total, in the last half of the year, but at all of the gigs, people showed up. It’s a good reminder of how you took the time to build an audience, and you should do the honorable thing to keep it engaged.

BB: Now that you’re back, what has been the biggest challenge for you guys?

JF: The easy part is making music. All the other stuff – getting the record out there, letting people know that it exists – that’s the hard part. I have no idea what’s going on in the world when it comes to music. I have no idea what people are playing on the radio – I have never really known that sort of thing? So, I have no idea whether we’ve made a record that will ever get played anywhere. It’s quite possible that you’re just sort of pleasing yourself and your own tastes, and that’s all very well. You can end up making a record that nobody ever hears, but at this point I have no idea whether that is the case or not.

BB: You gained serious ground in the states when Apple’s iPod ad came out. Did you expect it, and how did your newfound popularity impact the writing process for Here We Stand?

JF: I’m not sure how much it influenced the process, as [Here We Stand] was written and finished months before that anyway. I think the iPod commercial had already come out by the time we had finished that record. I had forgotten about the iPod thing until recently. It was completely surreal. For instance, the first time we ever went to Tokyo. The first time you go, or the even first couple of times you go, it’s disorientating – it’s sort of like arriving in space. There’s nowhere like it – such a bizarre experience. When we arrived, we went out for a walk around the city, and all that we saw for an entire day was that iTunes commercial. I think that was the first place we had seen it, because I didn’t have a laptop at the time, so I wouldn’t have seen it on that. And when we finally made it to New York, we saw the iTunes ad in Times Square. Those sort of things can’t happen but once, to people like us – well, they happen to lots of other people everyday – but for us, it happened once, and it’s much better that it happened than not. Completely surreal.

BB: Did Apple hook you up?

JF: They did give me my first iPod – I had never even considered what one was before. We then tried for iPhones when the first iPhone came out, but they weren’t receptive to that. I think they had moved on to the next band at that point.

BB: What can we expect from the third album?

JF: Well, it could be completely out of place – it’s probable that it will be out of place – but it’s really the only kind of noise that three guys like us can make. We have no sort of pretension to be other than that we are. We’re a rock n’ roll band. A three piece. It has to sound like us, we have the same band name. Given that I wrote the songs, I was just pleasing me and now listening to it, I kind of like it, you know? I’m a terrible salesman. I know I’m meant to say “Yeah, you know, it’s the greatest thing ever!” but that’s not me. I hope people listen to it. It sort of does everything that everybody liked about our band before. It does everything it should do.

BB: Does it lean more towards Costello Music, Here We Stand, or does it hold its own?

JF: I don’t think that it’s influenced by the other records. Certainly not by the second record. First record, possibly, but whenever I go back and listen to [Costello Music], and it’s not often, we sound excited. We sound like we sort of need some – what’s that ADHD medicine – ritalin? We need ritalin, and it sounds like it. And it’s not that we’re not excitable now, but we’re definitely not as hip monkey as we sounded then. But like I said, all you’re ever doing is pleasing yourself, and that’s the best thing to trust. That was what that first record was – just pleasing ourselves, and it’s a bonus if anybody else likes it.

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BB: A lot of rumors have swirled over the years, around the origins of your band name – care to shed some light?

JF: You know, it was never me who chose it – it was actually Barry who chose it. It was the very first time we ever met each other, and eight or nine hours – eight or nine drunken hours – later we had picked a band name, picked our first album name, and just sort of stuck to it. I cannot remember where he got it from.

BB: So it’s not from The Goonies then?

JF: You know, it may have been! That sounds about right, because he and [drummer] Mince are sort of big film guys. I can remember when I first met them, thinking “God, these guys watch a hell of a lot of movies.” So that sounds like where he would have gotten it from. I can’t think of anywhere else. It sounded okay to me at the time. I remember thinking, “I’ll wait and see the next day if it still sounds okay.” You know when you wake up in the morning and the things you said the night before just seem ridiculous, or they still make some sort of sense and you think, “Well, that must be okay then.” The next day it didn’t sound so bad.

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