After a 5-year release hiatus, The Fratellis are back with their new album We Need Medicine. Only 2 days after the release of their new single ‘She’s Not Gone’, Tim Morizet had the opportunity to talk to their bassist Barry Wallace, aka Barry Fratelli and discuss the feelings he had hearing his band for the first time on the radio, brotherhood and what has changed during the last couple of years.
Tim: In your opinion, what does a good frontman need?
Barry: It depends because I’m a fan of bands who have a frontman whose appearance is more of a presence and then again I’m a fan of bands who have a very energetic frontman so it only depends on the band and the style of music I think.
Tim: So who’s your favorite frontman?
Barry: Hard to say, it’s Roger Daltrey. (The Who)
Tim: What would I need to listen to if I stole your ipod, mp3 or phone?
Barry: My Ipod is a weird, wonderful and sometimes a scary place. But I think there’s everything from The Who to European techno stuff. The best thing to do would be to just put it on shuffle and enjoy the wonderful surprise.
Tim: Officially you received your first radio playing in 2005. What was the feeling like when you first heard yourself on the radio?
Barry: If it is the one I remember, we were actually in America at the time. I got it late because of the time difference as it was played during daytime in the UK. I was very excited, spoke to people on the phone. It was 3 or 4 in the morning American time, so I couldn’t really share the joy with anybody. Yeah, it was one the most exciting things that ever happened. You’ll remember it your whole life.
Tim: What has changed between 2005 and today? How much have you guys and your music changed?
Barry: The music hasn’t changed in a way that you wouldn’t recognize us. It’s the same band. We evolved a little bit, got better as musicians and as song-writers. Some people might not agree, but things are always gonna change, but we’re still the same band and the same musicians. We’re just a little older.
Tim: After so many years of experience, do you still have the feeling you have to work on yourself and/or your bass guitar?
Barry: I don’t think I have to, but it would be quiet boring to just stay the same. I still practice and try to keep myself a little bit shaft and do certain tasks and test to see if I can rock certain songs. You should always try to better yourself, I think, in whatever you do.
Tim: Fratelli in Italian means: Brothers. And in my opinion a band is or should at least be like a big family, but families argue. What are you guys argued about?
Barry: We argue about everything. You see that was one of the main reasons the band was called The Fratellis, because like youself I sort of believe that a band should be a sort of brotherhood, a gang. We mainly want the same things, but sometimes argue what songs should be played, what gigs we’re going to do, stuff like that. We obviously had some arguing because we split up for four years, but that’s the past now.
Tim: You’re touring with your new album in the U.S., Canada, Japan in a few weeks time. What are the negative points about touring?
Barry: Every job has its positive and negative points. Even though our job is part of the more glamorous side of things, there are still negative sides. The main thing is being tired, it’s a long time travelling right between the shows. A lot of people think all you have to do is do the concert in the evening, but most of your time you spend on a bus or airport lounge. Still, I quiet enjoy travelling anyway. Of course you miss your family a little bit, but the positive definitely outweighs the negative.
Tim: So do you try to visit city centres and tourist attraction while you’re at a certain place?
Barry: Yeah I try to. I always make a point of we go for a walk even if time is limited. It seems rude to me to just turn up somewhere and you don’t see any of your environment.
Tim: Where is your favorite place to play gigs?
Barry: We had been very fortunate to go all over the world. One of my favourite places to go and to play is definitely Japan. It’s just an incredible place, you either love it or hate it straight away. Fortunately I loved it, it’s so different from the UK, I guess, it is a really magical place. Weird and wonderful things happen over there.
Tim: I’m sure you’ve seen some crazy stuff on stage. What was the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?
Barry: You have people trying to get up on stage and dance around and dive off. I guess one of the weirdest things I saw was at a festival, a guy had climbed the frame of the stage and found himself 40 feet in the air.
Tim: You’re latest album “We need medicine” was released October last year. Are you so far happy with the reactions of the media and the fans?
Barry: The only thing I really care about is the reaction from the fans, I never really cared what the media think. The only sort of proof we need is to go to places and sell our shows. And so far we’ve been all over the place.
Tim: What does a song, in your opinion, need to be a seller?
Barry: I’ve no idea. Really. If we knew that, every song we would write would be a massive hit. It changes so much, it was different from when we started as a band, it is a hell of a lot different now. I think you need something memorable, something catchy. I guess. Hooks are quiet important, but making yourself memorable is probably the most important part.
Tim: What would I experience if I spent a whole week with you in the studio?
Barry: You would probably drink lots of tea, smoke lots of cigarettes, experience lots of arguments, and you have a sore head at the end of it as we tend to play pretty loud.
Tim: Where do you see yourself and the band in 5 years? Do you have a checklist?
Barry: No, we don’t have a checklist. I guess we’ll just keep doing it as long as people want to see us and keep coming to our shows and buying records.
Tim: You’re a band from Scottland, Glasgow to be precise, do you have any insiders a fella could use while visiting Glasgow?
Barry: Yeah there are lots of great gig venues in Glasgow, the most famous one is probably the King ‘Tut’s Wah Wah Hut’ where Oasis got insane. One of the best venues in the world, I think, is the Barrowland hosting thousands of people, there is always a concert going on and the venue adds a lot to the concert. But there also a lot of smaller places like the Nice N Sleazy. Glasgow is a great city.
Tim: What would you tell a band that until now hasn’t had the success you’ve had. What should they do?
Barry: The only thing you can do is to keep to it, believe in it and yourself. I always tell bands who ask that question, if you don’t believe in the song you’re doing, how do you expect to convince other people to believe in it.
Tim: 5 in a row:
1) What’s your favorite swear word?
2) What’s your favorite meal?
3) What makes you sad?
– my kids crying.
4) What do you value most?
5) What is your favourite drink?