BRIT award winning rock act The Fratellis are playing Kent to headline the Vicar’s Picnic. Neill Barston caught up with them ahead of their much-anticipated return.
If you’re heading to a sporting event this summer, there’s a more than fair chance The Fratellis monster hit Chelsea Dagger will play its part at some point in proceedings.
Just over a decade on from its release and the Glaswegian’s enduring indie anthem, much like their debut album, Costello Music, still sounds remarkably fresh.
But as the group’s bassist Barry Wallace enthuses, they’re very definitely keen to keep pushing forward with new material rather than coasting on glories past.
“We’re under no illusion over the fact that people want to hear those first songs of ours, but we don’t want to become a nostalgia act – we want to put out new music as we believe that we really do have it in us. So it’s a balance between keeping it fun for ourselves and making sure it’s fun for those who come to see us,” explains the likeable musician of their approach to performing.
As if to underline their determination, he reveals the band are just returning to Los Angeles in order to record their latest album, before a round of summer shows that includes a much anticipated headlining slot for the Vicar’s Picnic at Yalding, near Maidstone.
He’s not letting on about just how it will sound, but he says it’s likely to be ‘very much a Fratellis sound’. It follows their last acclaimed album Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied, which respectably made the top 20 to add to their previous three high-charting outings in the studio.
“It’s a bit of luxury to still be able to do something like that and travel to record an album, given that the industry has changed so much now. There used to be a lot more money around with major record labels.
But we did what we had to get the last couple of albums right, as we didn’t want it to be a case of repeating what we had done before musically,” says Barry, who says he is enjoying a slightly more relaxed pace of life these days with his family based in the Midlands.
Casting his mind back on their eventful career to date, which included picking up a commendable Brit Award for best newcomers back in 2007, he had a instinct from the beginning that they were destined for something special right from the moment he had responded to an ad from singer Jon in their local music shop.
They were armed with a raft of energetic radio-friendly indie hits that made them instant music magazine cover stars and quickly amassed a global following.
“I knew what we were doing was good – I’d been in lots of bands before the Fratellis, and though it sounds quite hippyish, I just knew that this group was going to do something. That was my inclination and it’s been a rollercoaster ever since. I am just very thankful that it has happened for us.”
As he explains, it hasn’t been plain-sailing all the way, especially with the decision to take what became a dangerously extend break from each other after a punishing touring schedule that included headlining the much-missed Hop Farm Festival in Paddock Wood.
But as he explains, the intense touring lifestyle had placed a huge pressure on their friendships, which they have thankfully restored and are ready to return to the fray in Kent armed with a mix of new material and old favourites.
“We’ve played Kent a few times before and when I heard about Vicar’s Picnic it sounded like my kind of event with it being quite family-friendly. That’s something that is quite important to me as I have family of my own these days, so we’re looking forward to it a lot.”
– Vicar’s Picnic is between Friday, July 14-th-15th, headlined by The Fratellis, From the Jam. Tickets £50 per day (children under 13, £12).www.vicarspicnic.co.uk