T in the Park - The Fratellis
Could the band responsible for the most mosh pits and singalongs since Oasis’ heyday really be having an existential crisis? Doug Johnstone takes a long hard look into the soul of the Fratellis
The Fratellis aren’t a band you’d think of as suffering from existential self-doubt, eh? But a spell out of the spotlight has left singer and guitarist Jon Fratelli with the slightest lingering doubt about his band’s success and longevity.
‘I’m looking forward to getting out and playing, seeing what the reaction is, because you’re never quite sure, are you?’ he says. ‘I’ve no idea how this album will go down. It seems to be doing all right so far, but it’s a fickle world.’
Maybe it’s the jetlag talking. The band are just back from a tour of the States, and two weeks in Europe before that, and if the ecstatic reactions they got on those jaunts are anything to go by, the Fratellis have little to worry about.
The second album in question is Here We Stand, released last month, which showcased another impeccable collection of bouncing, singalong, rifftastic anthems. It also showed a tad more diversity than the band’s million-selling debut, Costello Music, something which Jon was keen to explore.
‘We’d taken playing at 100mph as far as it could go,’ he says. ‘I’m not sure anyone can take it further than one album, or it just becomes very samey. We were conscious of trying to have a different sound. I always felt we had the perfect songs for an indoor sweaty venue, but when you dropped us on a main stage in a festival, it didn’t always come across.’
Despite Costello Music’s huge sales and the rabid enthusiasm of the band’s fanbase, Jon is refreshingly candid about that first record, and surprisingly downbeat when discussing it.
‘When you tour a record for 18 months you’ve got to love it,’ he says. ‘I didn’t dislike the first record, but there were elements of it I wasn’t happy with, and we were stuck with it for all that time. This time, we wanted to make sure we had a bunch a songs that will last a year-and-a-half, and will still excite us at the end of the tour.’
In a change from their debut, the second album was self-produced at the band’s own studio in Glasgow, a reaction to the battles they had with producer Tony Hoffer on Costello Music. Producing their own record was a steep learning curve, but Jon is ambivalent about how much he and the band have really learned.
‘I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything,’ he laughs. ‘You think you have then you fall into the same fucking traps every time. Some days I feel wise, other days I just feel like a complete fucking fanny. The only thing I’ve learned is that I want to stay here doing this, they’re going to have to take it off us, kicking and screaming.’
The Fratellis play Main Stage, Sat 12 Jul.