Frank’s Wild Years make supercharged blues rock, expect an explosion of sound, tantalisingly soulful honey like vocals, big guitars, massive drum sections and clever lyricism that could rival the best of the best. They are playing their next show in Manchester, on 19th November at Big Hands, so be sure to head down to catch their set, after all it’s free, what more could you ask for, good music and a free gig. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
I caught up with the band exclusively to chat about everything from their upcoming EP to their next Manchester and why you should all head down to that, plus much, much more. Read on to hear what they said.
Describe Frank’s Wild Years in three words or less.
Tom Barrow (drums): Unapologetic
Michael Barrow (lead vocals/guitar/bass): Energetic
Chris Gaskell (guitar/bass): Critical
You’ve been working away in the studio on new material for a while now for your upcoming EP. How is it sounding? Has your sound changed much since the Beggars and Rogues EP was released?
Chris: I think it has in the new stuff we’re doing but we’re kind of just recording old stuff at the moment.
Michael: With the newest stuff that we’re just about to start playing live, it’s taking a very different turn. The new EP is essentially songs we worked on in Tom’s bedroom for the Beggars EP that have been transferred over to this EP, with a new song on top of it, which is Oil in the Blood, to professional studio recording which Tom’s taken control of mixing. It’s not changed a whole lot, but it’s BIG and more mature.
Tom: It’s bigger and louder.
So when will be hearing this new material?
Michael: As far as I’m concerned you’ll be hearing Oil in the Blood on All FM on Tuesday. Rather than it being some sort of mad ‘lets get everyone knowing that this is the day it’s released’, it’s probably just going to eek its way out.
Chris: It’s going to be on iTunes and Spotify at some point.
Michael: So soon, is the answer.
Where does the inspiration come from when you’re writing songs?
Michael: I love little phrases that can be said off the cuff in everyday life by anyone. “Please can you stop the noise, I’m trying to get some rest” (Radiohead, Paranoid Android), simple little things like that, put with the right melody, just work. That’s kind of what I’m working on recently because when we were young and bashing out riffs, I was singing any old bollocks over the top of it just because what are you meant to write about? Should I write about girls, being pissed? I don’t know.
Tom: I think you’ve steered it into a direction now where what you write is meaningful without it being too obvious. It can be interpreted in different ways.
Michael: My inspiration comes from every other band I’ve listened to.
Talk us through your songwriting process. Is it a collaborative effort and roughly, how long does it take you to write a song?
Michael: I’ll give you two examples, I’ve just written a song about a thing that I’ve had in my head for about over a year and then over one day, one night, wrote some lyrics and then recorded it and now it’s just a little untitled demo that’s on the soundcloud. It’s a totally different sound.
Compare that with like, The Joker, which is still in our set because we’ve had it since we were 18, it’s still got a place in our hearts as a song in the set, but still to this day we’re striving over it, just because what can happen here. I suppose it’s because you get set in your ways when playing a song for that long.
Chris: They usually kick around for a while and then someone comes in with something else and sparks it off. I think we’re getting better at it, we used to just bring a riff in and then write some lyrics, turn it into a song. The melody is the most important thing, I think we’re focussing more on that now.
Tom: I think it’s more a case of we used to approach each other with riffs and things that we had in the pipeline and use that as an excuse to make a song out of it. Whereas these days we are critical, we are like, ‘Well, wait a minute. Is this good enough?’.
Michael: I think, going off topic here, the reason that we’re venting so much is that, for me, it almost feels like a rebirth for us. This is the first time we’ve ever taken the band as seriously, as we are now.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would that be and why?
Michael: Duke and the Darlings, said I’d give them a shoutout [laughs].
Tom: I don’t know if it’s just because I’m probably thinking about music all day, every day, because I study music production as well, but I’d want to do something completely different. Maybe just with a different vocalist, because that can really make or break a track.
Michael: I’ve always wanted to do something with a female vocalist. I’m thinking maybe one of the songs we have like as an instrumental, we’re jamming it out and then someone like Nick Cave comes in, and tells a story over that. Tom Waits! Tom Waits, for sure, to literally just tell a story over something we’re playing.
Who are your musical influences and do they have any influence on your sound as a band?
Michael: That’s a good question because obviously Tom Waits, but kind of no, but we like him, we like the bluesy, jazzy aspect of it.
Tom: But that doesn’t directly influence the music.
Michael: I think what directly influences us more are the likes of BRMC, Led Zeppelin. One of my direct influences for my style, if I was as good, is Matt Bellamy (Muse).
Tom: I love Dom Howard, the drummer from Muse. I’m actually proud that the band are British, no matter how much people love them or hate them; they are a marmite band definitely.
If you could create your dream line-up for a gig. Who would you choose to be on the bill?
Tom: Living and dead? [laughs]
Chris: Hendrix would be on there.
Michael: BRMC, The National, Nick Cave, Tom Waits.
Tom: Zeppelin, and maybe Focus just to see ‘Hocus Pocus’ live. Muse would do half an hour too!
Michael: That’s a £600 quid gig that, in it? For any more please see www.franks-wild-years.co.uk [laughs].
You’re playing a special gig at Big Hands in Manchester very soon, on 19th November. Why should we all head down to this gig in particular? Convince us.
Chris: It might be our last one as a three piece, is one reason. We might have evolved by the time you see us again.
Michael: It’s gonna be big, it’s free. It’s a great venue, we’ve got a brand new song that will fuck you up, it’s a big ass song if we get it right. If not, if you like seeing bands crash and burn on stage, come anyway. It’s going to be so much fun, I can’t wait.
We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you’d like to share with us?
Michael: The Age of Glass, they are putting in so much effort, they’re ace, they’re so unique. So much stage presence, their music is tight, it’s just so inspiring. Duke and the Darlings, again they are putting in the effort, what they’re doing for free live music is fantastic. So we’re hoping to see more of the Ale-ternative next year.
Tom: There’s not enough of that going on really.
Chris: Yes, they are trying to create their own scene which is cool.
Michael: Yeah they’ve done it. Clockwork Radio.
Tom: Coroner for the Police. I don’t think they’re signed or anything, but they’ve got a really great sound, they’ve got a really cool bluesy Black Keys kind of vibe about them.
Michael: David Shurr. King Kartel, every time I see them play they bring in such a good crowd that it’s buzzing, they are a great band. Russ Erwin, beautiful guitar-player and Jeff Buckley-esque voice.
We’re lucky to see such a diverse range of music from all over the North West, there’s people out there trying a lot harder than we are, we are so lucky to have what we have recording wise because some people put in a lot of effort just to get noticed.
Anything big in the pipeline for Frank’s Wild Years that you could let us all in on?
Chris: Well we said earlier on in the year that we were going to have an album out, but we’re going to release a series of EP’s over the coming months instead.
Michael: I think in this day in age, it would be stupid to for a band like us to release an album purely because we have the means.
Tom: Also, there’s no sense in rushing it. If we are going to do it right, then it would be a case of being in the studio every day.
Chris: We’d end up killing each other.
Michael: We’ve got this EP, like I say for us it’s a fresh start with the same material, and a new member. He’s proving to be an absolute gem to be practicing with. Basically a lot more gigs in 2014.
Tom: And fingers crossed there should be an acoustic release at some point.
A special thanks to Frank’s Wild Years for this interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below.