The Fratellis - Biography
When The Fratellis emerged in 2006, this trio was the considered heir to the punky pop-rock throne previously held by The Libertines. Or at the very least it seemed like The Fratellis were aspiring for that honor. Two years and one iPod commercial later, The Fratellis changed things up with their second LP, issuing a set of slickly produced flights of fancy . While words such as “dangerous” and “druggy” were never closely associated with The Fratellis,time will only tell if the band decides to stick with its new ultra radio-friendly brand of pop, or head back to the delightfully trashy sounds that made them stars in the first place.
The three-piece from Glasgow, Scotland took a Ramones-like approach to naming themselves, applying the Fratellis moniker not only to their band, but to their individual names as well. The band is comprised of Jon Fratelli (guitar, vocals), Barry Fratelli (bass), and Mince Fratelli (drums) – a trio of T. Rex-loving Scots who are not related by any means. Their first live show took place in March of 2005 at the O’Henry’s Bar in Glasgow. Later that year, the group already had their first taste of radio exposure thanks to Beatscene, a program hosted by Jim Gellatly on central Scotland’s Beat 106 (now called Galaxy Scotland). Staying with their trend of making remarkably quick progress, The Fratellis were signed to a record label by the end of the year.
On April 3, 2006, the EP The Fratellis (2006 Nomadic Music) was released in the UK in a very limited run. Copies of the three-track EP are hard to come by at this point, although it did garner modest success in its heyday. “Creepin’ Up the Backstairs” especially caught the ears of casual listeners, turning them into tentative fans of The Fratellis. They wouldn’t prove themselves worthy of those fans, however, until an official full-length was released. Having only been together for a little over nine months with less than 50 gigs under their belts, the band went into the studio with producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air). Given their lack of on-stage and studio experience, what The Fratellis took from the sessions is impressive. Costello Music (2006 Island) was released in the UK in September of 2006 to reviews ranging from enthusiastic to utterly disinterested. The more well-known publications showered the LP with praise, citing its unshakeable energy and infectious rhythmic catchiness. Clearly, The Fratellis could write bouncy melodies. However, younger and hipper publications were less impressed, arguing that the lyrics were misogynistic and juvenile while the songs sounded like uninspired retreads of The Libertines’ catalog.
Costello Music had a strong showing in the UK, where it peaked at number two.
Meanwhile, The Fratellis were touring themselves crazy. In August 2006, the band had given back-to-back performances at the Reading and Leeds festivals. Immediately after those dates, “Chelsea Dagger” was released as a new single from Costello Music, adding to the band’s burgeoning status as the new loud and fun rock band of the UK That October, the band joined The Horrors and The Maccabees as part of the NME Rock‘n’Roll Riot Tour and they continued touring on their own through November. After releasing yet another single off Costello, “Whistle for the Choir,” The Frats finished a very busy 2006 by supporting Kasabian in a short arena tour.
2007 showed its promise early on to The Fratellis, who were presented with the British Breakthrough Act prize at the BRIT Awards in February. Just two days later, they were back on the road headlining their own tour, which brought them to the US in time for the American issuing of Costello Music. It seems odd that their debut full-length had done so much for the band in the UK, while the album had not even been released on the other side of the Atlantic. That changed on March 13, 2007, when Costello Music was released in the States via Cherry Tree. While the rabid adoration that swarmed around them at home was harder to come by overseas, some US success was gained through the single “Flathead” thanks in part to a sexy music video and its inclusion in an iPod commercial. Also, it didn’t hurt that the song was hard to shake off, with its “ba da bop ba da da da” choruses and Supergrassy brattiness. The single became a number 33 Billboard Hot Modern Rock Track, while the LP reached number 48 on the Billboard 200.
Through that September, the band’s touring schedule remained relentless. They bounced back and forth between the US and UK, squeezing in an Ireland date here, a Japan jaunt there. Understandably exhausted, the trio didn’t tour for the rest of 2007, but instead of taking a well-deserved break from being The Fratellis, they were working on their second full-length. The group announced that they would produce and record their sophomore attempt independently. After wrapping up the recording process in early 2008, the band hit the road again, touring the UK to get their fans excited about the album’s release. On June 9th, Interscope Records released Here We Stand (2008 Interscope). It appeared a day later in the States.
Here We Stand drew an all-around less enthusiastic critical response than its predecessor. For better or worse, the band had beefed up its sound, probably in an attempt to sever ties with its supposed indie influence. Now, the band sounded a lot less like The Libertines and a lot more like Jet. Since Costello Music had been charming in its tossed-off feel, it seemed a shame that Here We Stand’s final mix came out so slick. And yet, UK audiences stuck with the band, sending the album to number five. In the US, however, the album peaked only at number 80, a more than 30-spot drop from their last outing.
That July, The Fratellis played the main stage of the Scottish T in the Park festival, and in November they joined Travis and Echo & the Bunnymen at a charity gig in Glasgow for Versus Cancer. In April of 2009, the band was announced as a headliner for the Hop Farm Festival in Kent. The band then went on hiatus, only to announce their reformation in 2012, followed by the relaese of a new full length, titled We Need Medecine, which arrived October 2013.