Let’s begin at the beginning… we’ve known Frank for quite a while, having booked his first couple of Irish tours for him over a decade ago. Having shared beers, pizzas and drunken chit-chat before we thought, why not do it again?
Frank’s currently playing some solo shows in Mexico before embarking on an almost sold-out UK tour in support of his 7th album, Be More Kind. He was kind enough to chat with us during some down-time on the road.
Are you a big fan of beer? If so, what’s your favourite style?
I drink beer when I want to be out and about and active. I like light, clear lagers and pilsners, something fresh and zingy. My local has Sagres in at the moment, which has been nice. I have a soft spot for American brews as well, Lone Star is good.
That said, I don’t drink beer (or much of anything) before shows. In my old age I tend to need to focus to get the show right. Afterwards is a different story…
You brewed your own beer, ‘Believe’, with Signature Brew a few years ago now – how did that collaboration come about?
It was pretty simple – they got in touch. I wasn’t aware of their work before that, but they sent me an email asking if I’d like to have my own beer, which is one of the easier questions I’ve ever been asked.
Were you happy with how it turned out?
I was. I spent an evening with the master brewer working through what I did and didn’t like. I was a little surprised when he went for a wheat-based beer in the end, but he knew what he was doing, it was pretty tasty stuff.
Your live shows are beer-drinking, sing-a-longs. Did you try to make a beer that represents that spirit? Or just a beer you wanted to drink?
I was working on a beer I’d like primarily, but the two categories are far from mutually exclusive!
On the subject of beer and music, we think there’s similarities between the punk scene and craft beer scene – we’ve even got Fat Mike’s Punk in Drublic festival now, do you see the parallels?
I can see some connections, sure, and Mike in particular is taking that idea and running with it. To be honest I’m not the fussiest guy around when it comes to my choice of alcohol, I’ll happily drink a Becks or whatever as well as something craft. But then I suppose that could be applied to my music taste as well!
Can you tell us a little about your favourite bars? We know you’ve seen a few over the years…
Haha, well, that could take a while if I really got into it. Camden Town in London is my usual haunt, especially the Monarch, which is run by old friends.
Internationally, I used to love Matchless in NYC but that’s gone now, so I’d say Niagara there. McGreevy’s in Boston is like a second home while I’m there. To be honest though I just love a real dive bar (in the USA) and in the UK, I’m a fan of a proper London boozer.
I guess pizza is a common food for convenience while touring?
We used to have a lot more pizza than we do these days, in all honesty. We used to always have a pile of pizza waiting for us offstage when we finished a show.
Now that we’re getting older, a lot of people in my touring family are starting to watch their waistband a bit more, so it’s not as prevalent as it used to be, but there’s still pizza around on tour a fair bit, yes. I had a great pizza the other day at the Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage, Alaska.
Where’s your favourite pizza place?
When traveling around the UK I am a big fan of Pizza Express – it’s reliable. There are some great local places right where I live too.
Speaking of Pizza Express, we heard you ended up in a photoshoot for them once by accident…
Haha! I was in a Pizza Express in Leicester – this was over a decade ago – and the photo shoot they were doing in the corner kind of broke up acrimoniously. My friends and I volunteered to sit in for the shoot, and they bought us dinner, so everyone came off well. Alas, I have no idea if the photos ever got used.
What are your favourite pizza toppings?
Sun-dried tomatoes, lots of garlic, rocket, parma ham, that kind of thing. N’duja sausage is great too. Fuck pineapple man, ugh.
You’ve got Lost Evenings coming up soon. What’s it like booking a festival?
Well, the first thing to mention is that, while I oversee the festival, it’s my crew who take the credit for booking and organising it. It’s a gargantuan amount of work, as we discovered last year, the first year. We didn’t really know what we were doing, at all, but somehow it came together and we had a great weekend in Camden.
This year is a little more streamlined, I think, or at least we’re going into it with more awareness of how much there is to do. I’m really proud of the lineup this year, can’t wait to get into it!
The first single from Be More Kind, Blackout, has a dancy, synth vibe… is it representative of the album?
Some of it. I’ve been trying to get out of my musical comfort zone with this album, using different instruments and technical approaches. It’s a lot of fun, and it feels fresh to me. Finally I have songs you could play in a club!
How has your creative process evolved over the years?
It’s been a long old road (as well you know!) Songwriting these days is a little different – the craft side of it is well-honed, the art side arguably takes a little more work, as the low-hanging fruit of my inspiration is all used up. But once I get locked in to what I want to write about and how, it’s easier to craft something, and indeed to take it further than I have before.
Frank’s new album, Be More Kind, is available to pre-order now.
There are still a few tickets available for selected upcoming UK shows – you can see the full tour dates and ticket status here.