Whether it’s the inspiration for a song or a newfound vocal ability, whenever and however it arrives, you just have to run with it.
That’s basically what Jon Fratelli says happened regarding his skill to sing in falsetto, which pretty much appeared from out of nowhere while he was working on “Stand Up Tragedy,” the first track on the new Fratellis album, In Your Own Sweet Time.
“And after that, it started to dictate the types of songs I was writing,” says Fratelli, adding that falsetto vocals are featured throughout the first half of the album.
As for writing the new material, Fratelli says the process “felt easy — nothing was struggled over,” and he believes in some cases the songs essentially came to him, not out of him.
“You like to think you’ve written them, but you really haven’t,” he says. “You’ve probably heard Paul McCartney talk about when he wrote ‘Yesterday,’ that he woke up with the song there. That’s the best example I can think of. I think Keith Richards did the same thing with ‘Satisfaction.’ What more evidence do you need that nobody actually does the writing of the song? They appear, and you take credit for them. They’ll arrive if they arrive, and when it happens, there’s nothing more joyous.”
In lieu of standard musical instruments, Fratelli used software as his primary tool to craft the 11 tracks for In Your Own Sweet Time before the singer-guitarist-pianist recorded the album last June in Los Angeles with bassist Barry Fratelli and drummer Mince Fratelli.
Jon Fratelli has always been one to use the latest gear in order to get the job done.
“Even before we started this band, I hadn’t been in any bands, and I spent all of my time at home making demos, [at first using] the Tascam 4-track,” he explains. “And when drum machines became quite affordable — to me, that was heaven. I could just spend all my time making things that to me sounded like the finished product.”
A lot of the samples that appeared on Fratelli’s Sweet Time demos made it to the album, as did his drum loops, which he says “have a special character to them, and they’re impossible to re-create.”
Something else he didn’t want to re-create in the studio: anything that resembled Costello Music, his Scottish rock band’s debut, released in 2006 in the United Kingdom. Several months prior to recording their new album, The Fratellis celebrated the 10th anniversary of Costello Music with a brief U.K. tour.
“Nothing about that tour influenced [Sweet Time], not for me,” Fratelli says. “That tour was really something for fans who wanted to hear that record.”
Fratelli adds that while it wasn’t his idea to do a 10th-anniversary Costello Music tour, he wasn’t against doing it, either.
“It’s not my nature to want to milk something like that, but we are in the entertainment business,” he says with a laugh.
— By Chris M. Junior
The Fratellis on tour (schedule subject to change):
• April 27: The Showbox — Seattle
• April 28: Roseland Theater — Portland, Oregon
• April 30: The Fillmore — San Francisco
• May 1: Belasco Theater — Los Angeles
• May 2: The Observatory — Santa Ana, California
• May 4: The Observatory North Park — San Diego
• May 5: Crescent Ballroom — Phoenix
• May 7: The Complex — Salt Lake City
• May 8: Bluebird Theater — Denver
• May 10: First Avenue — Minneapolis
• May 11: Metro — Chicago
• May 14: Majestic Theatre — Detroit
• May 15: Theater of the Living Arts — Philadelphia
• May 16: Brooklyn Steel — Brooklyn, New York
• May 18: Paradise Rock Club — Boston
• May 19: 9:30 Club — Washington, D.C.
• May 21: Exit In — Nashville, Tennessee
• May 22: Terminal West — Atlanta
Photo by Nicky J. Sims