Interview: Frankie & The Heartstrings
Published on May 16th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Frankie & The Heartstrings release their second album The Days Run Away on May 27th, to be preceded by the single “Nothing Our Way” a week earlier; or, to put it another way, Monday. Rocksucker enjoyed a chinwag with front man Frankie Francis in anticipation of this forthcoming wave of activity, which also includes these UK tour dates in June…
Whose idea was the “Nothing Our Way” video?
We had a few proposals in from different directors. They knew we liked football and said, “You know, ‘Nothing Our Way’ is kind of an underdog song, so how would you feel about working in a car wash off Hackney Road in London? Then going off for a game of five-a-side and getting absolutely slam-dunked?” (Laughs)
“Yeah, alright then. Will they be real footballers?”
“No: big, fat men.”
The thing was in the video that we had to pretend to be getting beat, but we’re quite handy! The director had to say “stop it, youse are getting beat!” because we kept knocking it around and scoring all the time, but we swallowed our pride and let them win in the end. We’ve gone on tour with some big bands like Kaiser Chiefs and The Vaccines so we’ve played football against them, and we play The Futureheads on a regular basis.
The Vaccines were giving it the big one saying they were good at football – Justin’s quite good, to be fair, but we absolutely skinned them at five-a-side either last year or the year before. We beat them by about ten goals or something, showed them who’s boss!
Would you personally describe “Nothing Our Way” as an underdog’s anthem? Is that what it’s about?
Yeah, although it’s kind of about the frustrations of making the new album as well. That’s what I was going into lyrically, because there were times were it felt like nothing was going our way. We were given time and space to make the record, which might have been a bad thing because we started second guessing ourselves for the first ever time. We should never do that, you know, so we had to give ourselves a shake, pat ourselves down and say, “Come on, get your head down and just graft it out.”
Coming from a town like Sunderland, it often feels like nothing’s going your way. We try do things as a band other than just play gigs and make records – we put out other people’s records, we put on gigs in Sunderland regularly, we’re even opening our own record shop in Sunderland town centre that will have its own art space for creative and like-minded people to display their work – and quite frankly you regularly feel like you’re banging your head on a brick wall, being in Sunderland…
…but it’s where we’re from, it’s what we write about and we wouldn’t be the same people if we went and lived in London, pretended we were people we’re not. So yeah, I guess it is a bit of an underdog’s anthem.
F: yeah so…… WE ARE OPENING OUR OWN RECORD STORE IN SUNDERLANDStand by for mind blowing announcements of events and instores Xx
— Frankie Heartstrings (@FrankieStrings) May 15, 2013
— Frankie Heartstrings (@FrankieStrings) May 15, 2013
Did you record The Days Run Away with Edwyn Collins too?
No, we actually recorded it with Bernard Butler. It was half done in London, half up here and it took a year to do. The reason we came up here to do some of it was that the Olympics were on so we couldn’t find anywhere in London to stay, and if we did find somewhere to stay then we certainly couldn’t afford it! Doing half of it up here in the North East worked out well, though.
Being as abstract as you see fit, what can we expect from The Days Run Away?
I think it’s a very honest album and a great example of how we’ve progressed musically since the last record. I think we’re a lot more accomplished, everything from my singing to the musicianship on the record, but it still has wholesome values at heart and songs that everyone can relate to, which I think is very important in music. People want to make their own interpretations and that’s quite easy with our music.
Were all the songs written in the time since Hunger?
They were all written after the first record, yeah. They’re all about real life events; I think it’s important to write about things that have happened because it rings true with people. You’ve got to stick to your guns, and I think if we’d grown up or lived in any other town apart from Sunderland at the moment, our music would be compromised by fashions and trends. If you’ve never been fashionable then you’ll never go out of fashion, you know?
Do you tend to stockpile songs, and if so do you have material in mind already for the next album?
Yeah, we finished in the studio in January or February, and finished all the artwork, which we take a lot of care and attention over. As soon as we finished that around the turn of the year, we started working on album three. We’ve got ten or twelve songs written already, because when we’re not building our own shop in the town centre, putting on gigs or releasing other people’s stuff, we’re writing and rehearsing our own material. We’re very proactive as a band.
At a time when no one can get a job – you know, my dad’s on the dole – we’re very lucky and privileged to be able to do this full time, so we’ve got to make the most of it.
Finally, what new music have you been enjoying in 2013, and/or is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to that isn’t out yet?
There’s a band we played with earlier in the year called Hookworms, from Leeds, whose album came out last month. Their album’s very exciting and I’d say they’re probably one of the best live bands of recent years as well. It’s kind of wall-of-sound-hitting-you, psych-garage music, really good. There’s the new Edwyn Collins album as well; I think that what he’s overcome in his personal life to be still making records is incredible, so respect to Edwyn.
There are a lot of records coming out later this year that we’re very excited about, although I can’t think who off the top of my head. I quite often go into record shops and forget what I’ve gone in for, come out with something completely different, get home and think, “Oh god, I was meant to be that instead!” I’m quite excited about the new Gold Panda record. We’re fans of all kinds of music; we’re big music-lovers and we like the whole product too, going out and buying a record still. It’s something we do quite regularly, we support our hometown record stores wherever we can. There’s a lot of good music being made up there at the moment, it just needs supporting.
Frankie Francis, thank you.
The Days Run Away will be released on 27th May via the band’s own Pop Sex Ltd label.
For more information, please visit the official Frankie & The Heartstrings website.