Jon Fratelli talks reuniting, new material and returning to the band dynamic
“Reuniting with a former band is like wearing an old shoe,” explains front man of the Fratellis, Jon, in a heavy Glaswegian accent. “You never want to wear it out because you love that you can still work together”.
It’s been a long time away from the music circuit for Indie trio The Fratellis since the success of Costello Music and Here We Stand, but with a few years apart exploring respective solo projects since the 2009 split, they have re-grouped for an upcoming album. (How the other Fratellis would respond to being compared to an old boot however, we wonder…)
The new songs are said to have their signature sound of previous years but whether changes in musical style developed over their time away from the spotlight have allowed the band to mature are yet to be seen. “Writing music is all about learning new tricks so I guess I must have learned something over the past few years, only time will tell.” Their time apart has helped the group come together as song writers however. “The oddness of writing solo after belonging to a band keeps you writing on a daily basis and allows you all to contribute equally to the writing side of things.”
“We don’t want to confuse our audiences with re-invention”, Jon muses, “but in terms of lyrical writing our songs are becoming more nonsensical.” He ponders. “I’m a big fan of nonsense, always have been. In fact I think it’s almost a novel profession to be a writer of nonsense”. However that’s as far as Jon goes in describing their music. ‘I don’t pigeon-hole our music into one particular genre on principle – I just do what I do and that’s create a good ol’ racket’.
In fact, Jon goes so far as to say he wouldn’t rule out reusing past songs written originally for previous albums in the future. “One time this publishing company called me up and told me they wanted to use a song I wrote three years ago in a movie! I was astounded – I couldn’t even remember the song! There’s always material I lost, find again and want to use.”
These ‘nonsensical’ songs will be showcased with a tour following the album release. On touring away from Scotland he comments ‘everyone asks us the difference between the Scottish and English music scene but although it’s different when we travel abroad, audiences react the same way to us pretty much anywhere in the UK. People try to push you into saying one place is better than the other, but we have good and bad experiences everywhere.”
He continues, “we try to give people what they want, a steady balance between the old and the new but at the end of the day you have to please yourself.” This means avoiding smash-hit Chelsea Dagger, of which he has “always been confused over its success”. “I never thought it would be a hit, but it’s allowed me to live quite comfortably. Our songs have a mind of their own in that way”.
Likewise Jon sounds quite confused himself. When asked about possible collaborations, he replies “only with me!” “It takes enough doing to work with the other band members Barry and Mince – I’m very difficult”, he sighs. “Besides I don’t know that many people since I hardly leave the house.” Fans, I wouldn’t get your hopes too high, it’s clear the Fratellis are taking it “one record at a time”.