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Glaswegian indie notables The Fratellis are striving to regain the momentum that first had everyone singing along to that irrepressibly catchy Chelsea Dagger hook, and they’re not afraid to work hard to get it. Just ask frontman Jon Fratelli, who recently took the time to chat with us.
A brief hiatus following a tour in support of their 2008 sophomore effort Here We Stand has left the band a rested, rejuvenated, and eager outfit, who recently unveiled a new collection of material titled We Need Medicine, already being hailed as the band’s bluesiest and rawest effort to date.
Ahead of the band’s latest Australian tour, which kicks off Thursday, 3rd April at The Tivoli in Brisbane before dates in Melbourne and Sydney, we to Jon about what it’s like to reintroduce yourself to the music scene and how quickly fans can expect album number four.
Since the early days of Chelsea Dagger and now with Jeannie Nitro, you’ve been known for the ode to the strong, assertive woman. Is there a lot of art imitating life when it comes to finding songwriting inspiration?
Jon Fratelli: Well… no. It probably comes from being terrified of women more than anything. I haven’t known enough women to inspire that many songs, so I admit what I’m writing about is as a result of sheer terror [laughs]
I find people on the whole very interesting, though men are boring, so women is really what I have to work with. Being attracted to women is a scary experience in itself.
Other than that, I’m not sure where it comes from. Just no idea. Maybe it was a first crush in primary school that ended badly?
I’m afraid I can’t see it for myself, though I’m sure there would be some men reading this that might agree with you.
JF: All men would agree, they just won’t tell you. You seem lovely but I’ll bet you’re also terrifying. It’s a compliment to women, for sure.
Watch: The Fratellis – Seven Nights Seven Days
Why, thank-you, I think. So yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you guys in Australia — six years I believe — since your last record. Are there any aspects of touring that you missed?
JF: To be honest, all of it! The last time we came to Australia was, unfortunately, around the time that things were falling apart for us. It was probably the last tour we did, actually. So we do have some making up to do. For some reason, this second time around, we collectively have a better appreciation for it.
We got thrown into it, we did from the beginning, so when that happens and things explode you are both very lucky and also unaware of what’s going on around you. You can’t appreciate what is happening around you because it all becomes very normal.
We’re more appreciative of having an audience… going places and being greeted by people that want to see you is really an honour. You can make as much music as you like, but it doesn’t guarantee that anyone is going to hear it.
You almost sound surprised to have an audience. I know that people here in Australia love the new record, and are pretty excited to reunite with you guys. How does it feel to be able to slip back into the game after a break, with equal success?
JF: We are surprised. I guess I don’t credit people with having a big enough attention span to remember who we are or what we sound like. I’m not sure… we’ve always been fortunate to be able to convey what we want, have a presence to keep people’s attention—for better or worse.
We do work hard but we have been lucky. It was actually the main reason we got back together… it was like, “Well, it seems as though there are a bunch of people out there that think we’re a bit of alright,” [laughs] The aim this time around is to maintain momentum, keep things simple and fun.
So have things dramatically changed for you guys this time as a collective? I know there is a different approach to performance, however your methodology has stayed the same.
JF: Well apart from being older, not really! We seem to have a much clearer idea of the band that we’d like to be, what we strive for when performing live. We have greater direction and drive.
What would you say that ultimate band would be?
JF: I guess we’d like people to walk away from our show feeling as though the band they just watched held their own. They’re happy. We want to make people feel like they need to dance through the night, stay up until dawn to bask in the excitement of what they’ve just seen. We never really had that feeling before, because we didn’t have to work for it, if that makes sense. Now, we still feel comfortable in ourselves, but we’re pretty determined to get the most out of things this time, and we’re working harder.
In terms of recording, we’ve always kept things minimal. We only go in when we’re ready. We don’t want to be wasting takes, changing things too much in the studio. We want to capture the energy in as few takes as possible. We’re after a feel, you know? An energy.
You mentioned earlier that you’re looking to maintain momentum this time around. Does that mean we can expect more releases from The Fratellis in the foreseeable future, perhaps after this round of touring?
JF: Definitely. We’ve already done a few recordings, we’re looking to have another album out sooner rather than later. We might put something out later in the year if we can, and be back in town soon after. We don’t like to leave things for too long, we’re very excited.
As are we!
JF: Don’t say that. It might be terrible.
Watch: The Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger