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Frankie & The Heartstrings Interview PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Shaw   
22 06 2010
ImageUnless you've sheltered yourself from the world in the past six months, you'll be aware that Sunderland-based band Frankie & The Heartstrings are, officially, the next big thing. With their new album in production and a spot at this year's Glasto confirmed, George Shaw caught up with Frankie & The Heartstrings front man Frankie Francis for a coffee and a chat about Split Festival 2010, nuts, and his highlights from a busy year so far. Here goes:

GS: Hello Frankie, how are you?

FF: I'm alright George, how are you?

GS: I'm good thanks. So you played at the first festival last year; are you looking forward to coming back?

FF: When you're away in a band, everyone is constantly asking you, "When are you coming home" or "when are you going to play a gig Sunderland?" I think we have to be careful you know, especially where we're at in our careers, how we pick and choose our gigs in the North East, or anywhere really. I always remember last year when we played Split Festival, it was our last gig before going on tour with Florence & The Machine, so it was really our first exposure to playing a big stage and it felt great and really prepared us for that. This year we're really excited to come back and play, there's going to be a lot more people there, there's a lot more renowned bands playing this year and it's a lot better organised this year, even the organisers would agree with that. It's just really exciting to be involved with it, y'know. We remember when we went on tour with The Futureheads and Barry is a very passionate man; we know Barry - he made me want to be in a band. Me and Michael watching Barry's band in this very room made me want to be in a band. So it's just nice to be involved with, and as time goes on I'd like to think we stay involved. It's got that local feel to it as well, we're a band from Sunderland and we want this festival to be something we can shout about.

GS: The bigger the band get, the more difficult it can be to play a gig in Sunderland. Is this festival something that you cherish?

FF: Yeah, I mean we will have to play a gig in Sunderland in our own right at some point, and that day is going to be a very special day. But in the meantime, I mean we can say yes to this because you've got the big guns like Maximo playing and there's loads of mint bands playing. If you go down the line it's good band after good band, like Hot Club de Paris, who are brilliant live. When we were on The Futureheads tour we were lucky enough to be associated with Dutch Uncles. Brilliant band. Have you seen them before?

GS: No, not yet!

FF: They're brilliant like. Really, really good. That Fucking Tank, I've bought their records for years, I remember going down to Leeds to see them.  It's very music content over style and normally it's style over content when it comes to festivals and it's something that Sunderland should be passionate about and the people of Sunderland should be very enthusiastic about and very proud about because it's a great festival and a great line up. I'd go so far as to say it's a better line up then Evolution because if you're into music, you'll love the fact there's not one band you're not arsed to see, you want to see every band.

GS: Is there one band you're looking forward to seeing?

FF: Well, Maximo, of course, because they're a great live act and they are where they are because they're a great band; Dutch Uncles definitely; That Fucking Tank. I don't think the full line up has been announced - the second day headliners haven't. I mean, you could stand all day at the front of the stage and have a good time. That's what it's all about, the quality of the bands and to be considered to be an equal with them is great.


GS: So other than Split, it's been quite a hectic year for the band. Have you enjoyed it?

FF: More than anything I've ever done in my life. It's an amazing opportunity; the best day of my life was when we signed that record deal. We've only been pros for two months y'know, but everything we sacrificed and worked for as a band was in the last two months. We only signed two months ago but if you look back from when we played Split Festival last year, when we play it in September it'll be exactly a year since we played it, and in that year so much has happened. The Futureheads tour, the Florence & The Machine tour, then we've got all the festivals, our next gig is Glastonbury for fuck's sake. That's mint. My first memory of radio was listening to John Peel broadcasting live from Glastonbury on Radio 1 and that made me want to be a radio DJ involved with bands and stuff and now we're going to play that. My first experience of Glastonbury will be playing on the Park Stage on Saturday afternoon, which is incredible.

GS: Has any of it sunk in yet?

FF: Nah. It's nuts. It's completely nuts. Y'know we're in the NME last week, full page review of our first London headline gig I'm like "what the fuck!?" Then tomorrow we've got a massive article in the Guardian, which is something nuts because you get the Guardian when you're in college and stuff read through about the bands and music stuff, then the films and the art supplement and now we're rubbing shoulders with these people. Every day brings something amazing. We announced today we're going on a headline tour in October with Summer Camp, and the NME announced that and I'm thinking this is nuts and it's getting more and more nuts. I mean, towards the end of the summer, just before Split, we're opening Reading and Leeds. THAT is going to be nuts.

GS: What's been your highlight so far? Apart from being announced for Split Festival in Sunderland.

FF: The highlight of my band life, apart from being announced for Split Festival for the second year in a row...erm, so many good things. I mean we played a gig a couple weeks ago in Shorditch as part of this festival called Stag & Dagger, Wichita, our label who we love, they curated a stage and we went on second last in this pub called The Old Blue Last right in the centre of London and it's absolutely rammed jammed full of people. It was amazing. I was totally sweating coming off stage and people were patting me on the back. That was a good moment. Being on stage at Brixton Academy two nights in a row supporting Florence was amazing. But I think the best is yet to come, it really is. I mean I can't wait to run out next week and go "HELLO GLASTONBURY!" That's nuts!

GS: How's the album coming along?

FF: Slowly but surely. We've been quite busy at the moment you know. But we've been home the past couple of weeks so we're working on it now but we're going back on the road next week then we come for a week to work on it a bit. It's 80% there foundation wise, bass, drums, vocal, guitars but it;s the first time I've ever made album, it's the first time I've ever been in a band, it's so much more involved than you think, you think oh it'll just take two minutes to do all this, but it doesn't, it takes weeks. The when we've finally finished all our work it's get submitted to someone who's going to mix it, which is going to be James Ford and we just found out today that Edwyn Collins is going to be mixing a song! Which is nuts! My main influence for being in a band is Orange Juice, you know. 

GS: Do you have any idea when it'll be ready then?

FF: We've provisionally set January as a date, we should be all ready. We've got some big tours coming up after the festival season, there's the Summer Camp tour then hopefully some more exciting news towards the end of the year which should see us play outside the UK for the first time. So we've got to squeeze all this in and then drop the album early next year, when more people have heard of us.

GS: What does the rest of 2010 have in store for Frankie & The Heartstrings then?

FF: Erm, the rest of the year...

(Dave Harper interrupts)
"Look how Frankie's sitting! Are you comfortable sitting like that? Do you want me to feed you some grapes or fan you a bit?"

FF: ...we're going to finish the album then play the rest of the festival season, then the Summer Camp tour. That's what we're hoping to do this year.

GS: Great, thanks Frankie.
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