- 08 Sep 15
On the eve of the release of Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied, we meet Jon from The Fratellis to talk about second chances, ten-year anniversaries, The Goonies 2 (obviously) and more.
They say that if at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again and Scottish trio The Fratellis took it quite literally when it came to the creation of their fourth album Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied. You see the music found on their latest opus is the result of a second attempt at writing/ recording and while it was a risky decision to dump their previous material, it has yielded some of their best songs yet. When we meet the band’s singer/guitarist Jon Fratelli to talk about the album (or rather, wake him up from his slumber), he seems quite philosophical about a situation which must have caused at least a few grey hairs.
“We tried a bunch of recordings in January 2014 or so and for one reason or another they hadn’t worked out,” he begins. “These things are always song dependent. If you have the right ones then you have a record, if you don’t you can’t even start to call it a record. Fast forward to September last year and all of a sudden there was a bunch of songs that worked. “I think every song writes itself. I believe there’s no such thing as a songwriter. Some songs literally arrive almost fully written, it’s a strange thing to try and explain as it sounds weird. It's like Paul McCartney says of ‘Yesterday’ – when a man wakes up with a song sitting there you really can’t claim it’s yours. It’s always a thrill when that happens.”
Re-teaming with producer Tony Hoffer (who worked on their debut Costello Music), Jon is full of praise for the knob-twiddler. “He always has an idea, an extra little bit of something to add to every song. He likes us and that’s not to be overlooked. He wants to make a record that he would want to hear from us and that means we can sort of sit back after that. We trust him.” This year marks the tenth anniversary of The Fratellis. During that time, they’ve had their fair share of ups (their debut album earned them fame and acclaim) and downs (the trio split for three years before reuniting in 2012).
How does Jon feel about the last decade, and more importantly, what does he think about his career-making, evergreen anthem ‘Chelsea Dagger’ nowadays? “I don’t pay attention to anniversaries. I don’t even notice them. I’m happy we’re still together playing songs though – especially after splitting up the first time. We’re grateful we have an audience that wants to see us play. “As for ‘Chelsea Dagger’, it’s not a weight around my shoulders. It was and still is a song that can get in the way... It’s a double-edged sword. Without it we wouldn’t have gotten to travel the world and play for people. I can completely see that, but at the same time it can be the only song people know or want to know. It certainly doesn’t keep me awake at night though, because I know what the alternative would have been if we hadn’t released it.”
While researching the band ahead of the interview, your humble correspondent randomly discovered that plans are afoot to make a sequel to beloved ‘80s movie The Goonies. As Jon’s band are named after the film’s baddies, I wondered what his take is on this developing situation. “I know that’s where our name came from, but I haven’t actually seen Goonies, which my bandmates Baz and Mince are horrified by,” he laughs. “I’ve seen bits of it but I haven’t seen the whole thing so I couldn’t even start to comment on two until I see one! It’s tour bus viewing I guess.”
Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied is out now on Cooking Vinyl