After hearing the news that the UK’s biggest record store chain, HMV, was shutting down on the same day that they finished up their sophomore record, UK indie rock quintet Frankie & the Heartstrings made the only logical decision – to open up their own record store.
“We’d just spent a year and a half making this record and now there’s nowhere to sell it,” says singer and band namesake Frankie Francis. “So we were like, ‘well, why don’t we make our own record store? Yeah, that sounds like a stupid idea, let’s do that.’ So naively we’ve gone into this, full speed ahead. In a time when record stores are closing down, we’re opening one up. Typical.”
It seems like that’s just how the Sunderland indie rockers do things – throughout the conversation, Brag learns that they have also booked their upcoming album tour during the opening week of the record store, and that they’ll be somehow running the store themselves – while travelling around the world. “We’re doing this properly, so we’ve only got ourselves to blame if it goes tits-up,” Francis deadpans in his Northern English accent.
Frankie & the Heartstrings released their second album, The Days Run Away, at the end of last month. “I’m incredibly proud of this record,” begins Francis. “It’s been a bit of a labour of love because we had a lot of time off to make it and we’ve never had that much time off before.”
Listening to the record, it’s difficult not to notice the evident frustration projected throughout. Francis confirms that aiming for perfection made creating the record a difficult process. “There’s a song on it called Nothing Our Way. It’s kind of an amalgamation of the feelings of frustration at trying to do your best, but at times feeling like you’ve got nothing left. When you’ve got so much time to do something, it’s hard not to over-think it, it’s hard not to throw the kitchen sink at it,” he explains.
The group worked with esteemed producer and ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler on the record, a move that Francis is happy with. “Bernard’s very driven to succeed, and his professionalism is incredible. For the first time ever I was shown singing techniques, so I’m very proud of my voice on the record.” The band travelled between Butler’s studio and their own in different parts of England, visiting pubs along the way. “It’s really weird you know, when you’re sitting with Bernard Butler in your local pub doing a pub quiz – it’s totally surreal.”
Frankie & the Heartstrings will be juggling touring and running their store over the next few months, and Francis tells Brag that they’re likely to head our way towards the end of the year. Above all, the band is pumped to get out on the road after a year of knuckling down. “It’s what we do best, I think we’re one of the best live bands you’ll see. We put everything into it and I think that’s the way bands should be – but a lot of bands aren’t, you know, they’re too concerned about looking down to see if they’ve got the right shoes on.”
BY CHLOE PAPAS
The Days Run Away out now on Pop Sex Ltd/Warner.