Redbrick Meets: The Fratellis | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Redbrick Meets: The Fratellis

Ahead of their new album and UK tour, Sorcha Hornett chats with the Fratellis frontman about summer tour plans and the bands wildest shows ever

The Fratellis are about to release their fifth album, In Your Own Sweet Time, which they promise marks a development into a new phase with a new sound that is bigger and bolder. To mark their new album (released 16th March), they’re embarking on an eight date UK tour that hits the Birmingham O2 Institute on 27th March. They’ve currently released four tracks from the new album, which can be found on all major streaming services, my favourites are ‘I’ve Been Blind’, which teases some serious 80s synth vibes and ‘Starcrossed Lovers’ which refers to everyone’s favourite tragic couple, Romeo and Juliet. The album promises to be the perfect mix between 70s American pop and the best of British rock, and I couldn’t be more excited for it’s pending release. I caught up with Jon Fratelli, responsible for the vocals and guitar in the band, ahead of the band’s tour.

Are you excited for your upcoming tour and album?

Yeah, we kinda feel like we are perpetually on tour, or at least perpetually playing shows, and making music, so we don’t feel like we stop and then start again, but to go and play shows for people is the thing we know how to do.

Yeah, I mean this is your fifth studio album, isn’t it? That’s a lot, like what makes this one different from the others?

In some ways I’m the wrong person to ask that because I’ve heard those songs so many times that you lose perspective so it’s probably a question best answered by somebody who’s listening to the record for the first time because it’ll be more obvious to them. To me, everything feels exactly the same, but I suspect in lots of ways this record is quite different to what people might expect.

I’ve definitely noticed listening to your old stuff compared to the newer stuff that’s been released on Spotify that you guys have a different vibe going on now, which I really appreciate, it’s really nice to see progression in a band.

It’s just where we find ourselves at a particular time, like one day something entertains you and then next day that no longer entertains you but something else does, so I think, when you make a record it’s basically just a snapshot of what was entertaining you at that particular time.

What is your favourite venue that you’ve ever played?

When you make a record it’s basically just a snapshot of what was entertaining you at that particular time
That’s a tricky one to answer because I feel like we’re lucky enough to play all over the world and if I single out one place over anywhere else then it’s kinda unfair on all the people that come to the other shows. But, just coming from Glasgow the Barrowland was, when you were growing up, we felt like if you played there then you were doing okay, and we’ve been lucky enough to play there 3, 4, maybe 5 times now and we’re playing there again on this tour. I also like to feel like I haven’t played my favourite venue yet and I’m still waiting to find it, and I hope I never find it because then we might stop.

I know what you mean, I’m coming to your Birmingham show which I’m really looking forward too, as this will be my first time seeing you guys live.

The first time we played that venue [Institute] in Birmingham somebody fell from the balcony and they got up and walked away. That tells you what kind of night it was.

That sounds pretty insane to be honest, quite looking forward to it. Don’t think I’ll be going on the balcony though. What are you most looking forward to playing on tour?

We’ve never stopped playing the old stuff and we never will because when people buy tickets they are perfectly entitled to demand us to play all the songs that they love, so we always play those songs and the good thing is it changes from night to night. You go through certain periods where we’re enjoying playing 2 or 3 particular songs and those nights pass and then we all start to enjoy something else and I like it that way because it becomes less predictable.

You’re playing a few festivals this summer, are you looking forward to any particular one?

Again to single out one festival would be tricky because we really enjoy those nights as they’re slightly different to shows, but we are playing one festival in Glasgow, in the middle of a park, which is only five minutes’ walk from my house. That’ll be nice because we can stroll down there and perform and then stroll on back afterwards.

That must be so surreal though playing so close to your house.

This is a park with a bandstand and it’s a park that I walk by 2 or 3 times a week so it’s definitely the closest to my house I’ve ever played a show.

What’s your favourite track off the new record?

This feels like the first time we’ve actually managed to have a record where we really do like everything on there
I really love them all. If there was a track that we didn’t like, then it wouldn’t be on the record. We always aim to have a record where we like everything, we haven’t always managed it, but this feels like the first time we’ve actually managed to have a record where we really do like everything on there and it’s a nice place to have gotten too.

Are there any reasons why you titled the album In Your Own Sweet Time or was it just a lyric that you liked?

Yeah, it’s just a line from one of the songs. We find when we have to pick album artwork and album titles we try to decide as quickly as possible and not have that many options, or we would just have like 40 different possible titles and that just gets dull, you know? Because you have three people trying to agree on 40 different things, so we keep the list short and the first one that everybody likes is the one we just go with instead of trying to find something else.

So, you guys basically go with your gut instinct?

We picked the name of this band before we even had a band and we picked our name of our first album before we even had an album, so I guess that says something about us.

I actually wanted to ask about the meaning behind the name of the band.

I’m going through an explosion at the moment of listening to lots of 80s pop, like The Bangles and Madonna, lots of female 80s pop
There’s no meaning, we had all been in a few bands separately before we were in this one and we all the same story that every band that we had been in seemed to change the name every two weeks because people would start to disagree, or somebody didn’t like the name, so when we first got together it was Barry that said, “by the way, I thought a great name for a band would be The Fratellis.” I didn’t think it was the greatest name in the world, but I just liked the fact that I could live with it and then we could never talk about it again.

I like that idea! What was the writing process like for this album?

It was really similar to the way I go about my work all the time, I write music for fun and I would do it if nobody paid me, I would do it if nobody listened. It was really just an extension of that and really, what it comes down too, in a day-to-day basis is me trying to entertain myself and just trying to get myself excited, and again it’s like when you play shows like one thing excites you one day and then doesn’t the next. I also have an incredibly short attention span, so I tend to write a song and when it’s finished I just put it to the side and move onto the next one, and that was pretty much the same for this record.

What music are you currently listening to at the moment?

That’s a hard question to answer because a lot of the time I don’t listen to music. I go through very long periods where I don’t want to hear music at all and then I have explosions for three or four days where all I want to do is listen to music. I’m very out of the loop on what’s going on out there and I always have been, I’ve never known what sort of popular thing of the day is. I have a really big music collection, like 30 or 40 years worth of different artists and to me, that’s like everything I would ever need. Honestly you could list off so many names and you could tell me they were the biggest thing in the world right now and I would’ve never heard of them.

Who are your favourites in your collection?

The only reason we would stop would be if somebody told us our time was up or if nobody wanted to come see us anymore
Sometimes my favourites I don’t really listen to anymore because I feel like I’ve saturated myself with them over the years. I’m going through an explosion at the moment of listening to lots of 80s pop, like The Bangles and Madonna, lots of female 80s pop, I’m not sure when that started. Pop was perfect in the 80s.

What can we expect from you guys in the future?

We will just keep going until somebody taps us on the shoulder and says “Okay, you’ve had enough” because, really this is the most enjoyable way I can think of spending my time and it has been for the last 20 years. I don’t see any signs that’ll ever stop, so the only reason we would stop would be if somebody told us our time was up or if nobody wanted to come see us anymore. I really hope in 10 years if we were to have the same conversation that we would still be doing what we do because it’s perfect for guys like us.

'In Your Own Sweet Time' will be released on 16th March. The Fratellis will play Birmingham Institute on 27th March, tickets are available via the website.

second year english lit student that drinks a lot of coffee and thinks she can write. (@sorchahornettxo)


7th March 2018 at 9:00 am

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