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The Fratellis Talk the Joys of Whiskey, the Heartbreak of Rock ‘n’ Roll + the New Album ‘We Need Medicine’

The Fratellis
Tom Oxley

America’s first introduction to the Fratellis came when the Scottish band released ‘Here We Stand,’ which was actually their sophomore album. (Their first effort, ‘Costello Music,’ only dropped in the U.K. and took the band to the top of the charts, making them a household name.) The LP led the band to play a series of sold-out U.S. shows and make a name for themselves.

But after years of touring and playing the same songs over and over, the band needed a moment to regroup. So following their performance at the Hop Farm Festival in 2009, the Glasgow trio went on indefinite hiatus. Four years later, the band has returned with ‘We Need Medicine,’ released on Oct. 8.

A week before launching the Fratellis’ first U.S. tour in years, singer and guitarist Jon Fratelli took time to chat with Diffuser.fm about how the guys got tired of each other, how whiskey played a role in the recording process and why they are some of the most boring people on earth.

You’ve been on a bit of a hiatus since your last album, ‘Here We Stand.’ What have you been up to?

Mostly trying to stay out of trouble, but the band needed a break. I made a record on my own. It was just something to do with my time because there was nothing else to do except to make some music. And then before you know it, we’ve done all those things, and then it was time to go back to your real job.

Do you feel that the break has helped the Fratellis on this new album?

I think time always has an effect on the music that you make, but I think it really helped us as a group on how we work together. I think the reason we stopped playing together is because we got sick of each other. But we got the stress out and learned how to not get sick of each other, and that only comes from spending time apart. It was hard to do that before, and we’ve slightly grown up more. But hopefully not too grown up.

How was this approach different from the last two albums?

Change is inevitable. What I really wanted from this record was to have an album where it shows that we’ve grown up from the first record. We didn’t really get that on the second record because when we got together to play it, we realized there were far less songs that we wanted to play [live] on the second record compared to the first. So really we needed [to make] a record that everything on there was something that we could play for the next five or 10 or god knows how many years and sort of be excited by it. But we’ve been playing the songs and during some shows over the summer, and these are the songs that we could honestly go back to again. And hopefully that’s what the record sounds like to the fans. Also, it was a band making a record for themselves because that’s what it really was, you know? We just made the record for our own amusement really.

What’s the song, ‘Seven Nights, Seven Days,’ about? And what’s the premise behind the video for it?

I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of music videos, to be honest. There’s never been a willingness to share everything. That’s why I’m more attracted to nonsense, but as long as it’s interesting. But that song it’s about a desperate man and could get some hope somewhere.

There is a song on the album called ‘Whiskey Saga.’ How much whiskey was actually involved in the writing and recording of that track?

I’ve had to many whiskey sagas. I used to think you couldn’t have too many whiskey sagas. I think I’ve definitely had too many. That song was probably just an amalgamation of several whiskey sagas. If you’re having a proper whiskey saga, then there’s no way you can remember how it all came together in one song. But you’ll need to have at least four or five whiskey sagas to get one song out of it.

And moving on to the track, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Will Break Your Heart,’ how has music broken your heart?

That title basically says it all. It’s the thing you care most about, and it’s something you have so little control over. But you do it anyway, even though you’re headed for heartbreak. But you keep doing it because it’s your life, as ridiculous as pop music can be, you do it because you love it. It can depress the life out of you on some days, but also it can excite you ways no one else can.

What’s a misconception that people have about the Fratellis?

The only way I can know if there are any misconceptions is to read the press, which I tend not to do. I always got the feeling that people thought that we were as zany as our songs intended to be. But you couldn’t three more dull human beings. If they saw us at night, they wouldn’t see zany individuals. They would see very boring men. I always found that quite funny.

What’s next for the Fratellis?

We will just be touring. First it’s the U.S. tour then the U.K. and then tour around Europe, and that will take us up to Christmas. I’m sort of writing songs for our next record, which we’ll probably do some recording for that in January. I don’t think we have anything to lose. I think we should keep up some momentum, but where we are right now is a pretty cool place to be.

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