Life can change in an instant. If you had – at just the right time – read an ad on a Scottish music message board, then you too might be in the popular Glasgow-based rock ‘n’ roll band, The Fratellis. Because at that time, some 15 years ago, only two other people responded to a post that front man, Jon Fratelli, put out. Those musicians – Mince and Barry – comprise, along with Jon, the hit trio. Flash forward to today and the rock group is set to release its sixth studio LP, Half Drunk Under a Full Moon, in the fall on October 30th. The band will celebrate that reality today with the official unveiling of its newest music video for the song, “Six Days in June,” which we are happy to premiere here.
“Barry and Mince were the only people who replied to the advert,” says Fratelli. “Nobody else called. That’s clearly a sign that we were supposed to find each other. We didn’t have to make much effort.”
That the members of The Fratellis didn’t have to grind gears to get where they were going is a testament to the chemistry between them. Fratelli, in fact, makes a point to say that the group doesn’t take itself or its music too seriously. But that is not to say that the members, Fratelli included, don’t care about what they do or that they don’t invest in their work. Indeed, the band members walk a unique line of mirth and freedom while also incorporating deep energy and effort. The result is a thoughtful, buoyant and often joyful mix.
“We’d all been in various bands and projects,” Fratelli says. “I think we all did the slog up until that point. So, when we met and started playing together, it was instant. From the very first time we got into a room to play, I had no doubt that this was the thing that was going to work. It was basically the thing I had been searching for forever. It wasn’t arrogance, it was almost like fortune telling.”
Listening to The Fratellis, one might think the band’s front man would always be throwing a pint of beer in the air with a bombastic CHEERS! But in fact, Fratelli is calm and mild-mannered when not center stage. Music and performance, for him, help to provide a balance to his more personal day-to-day.
“Like everybody else,” he says, “I have to live with myself all the time. The reason we distract ourselves – if you had to live with just yourself all the time, that would become really dull and drive you crazy. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s very normal – if creative people in some way regularly go down completely different roads from their everyday life.”
Fratelli, who started playing music at 9-years-old (piano lessons first, which he didn’t like), began to invest more deeply into the art form at 16-years-old. Despite living in Glasgow, Fratelli says he did not end up part of the local scene. He’s always had a fear of scenes, he says. And his instincts have proven accurate along the way. The Fratellis have sold myriad albums and achieved a Top 5 hit with their single, “Chelsea Dagger,” which boasts over 36 million YouTube views, alone.
But what pushes the band to success is the members’ refusal to stand still in their work. For Half Drunk Under a Full Moon, Fratelli adopted a new writing technique that he has yet to go back to since composing the band’s latest 10-track record. For the LP, he thought of colors and wrote songs based on those he wanted to incorporate on the album.
“I was hearing music in color,” he says. “But the bigger point was that I wanted to write certain colors. I felt like we needed a lilac song, so I wrote a lilac song. That was pretty intense and it hasn’t happened since. Recording that way created the most labor-intensive record that we have ever made. I’m not sure I would do that again. It pushed me, personally, as close to the line as I think I could get. But I’m pretty sure it was worth it.”
Releasing a video for the band’s song, “Six Days In June,” makes perfect sense. The song is celebratory, fun – two words people haven’t often used in the current age of COVID-19. It’s the type of track that you play in a pub or common area and everyone begins to sing. It’s something around which people can gather. In fact, it’s reasons like these that drive Fratelli to continue making music. For Fratelli, the art form provides a way to communicate to his fellow human beings that no verbal language could ever achieve.
“There are certain mediums like film and theater and music that defy language,” Fratelli says. “Language can come close to communicating what it is that you’re trying to say, but it really can’t get you all the way over the line. Music means so much to me that trying to come up with a word or sentence to describe it would be too difficult.”
Photo: Nicky Sims