The Fratellis

A Medicine Mistake

After a five-year studio hiatus The Fratellis have returned with a new album and Daniel White catches up with unvexed bassist Barry Wallace to find out what’s new.

At the peak of their success The Fratellis were riding high on the triumph of their UK number two album Costello Music while hit single Chelsea Dagger permeated football stadiums throughout the country.

At this moment in time the group were touring around England and Barry Wallace, the band bassist, clearly remembers a crowning moment amid the chaos.

“One day I was sitting on the beach and everything was just perfectly good at that moment,” he explained in his distinctive Glaswegian accent. “It was a nice sunny day and the band were doing well so that’s probably my favourite Brighton memory.”

The Fratellis leapt into the public eye in 2007, scooping the BRIT Award for Best British Breakthrough Act for Costello Music, and took the music industry by storm, dominating indie-rock festivals around the country with their infectious choruses and youthful glee.

“It was exciting, it was scary, it was exhausting, probably every emotion you could think of happened at some point in those years because your life changes in a big way,” Barry described as he pin-points the bedlam in his memory. “You spend years growing up in a band, dreaming about what it would be like if you made it and then it happens and it all sort of whizzes by you.“

However, two years on and the band had split up following the release of their less-than-successful second album Here We Stand which, despite peaking at number five in the UK charts, was heavily criticised by fans and the media alike.

Barry, though, was characteristically unfazed by the break down of one of the naughties most influential floor-fillers when I asked why they split.

He said: “The same reason, I guess, that most bands split up. If you work together with people, travel with them, you’re going to get on each other’s nerves once in a while, so everybody needs a break.”

The trio stayed firmly out of one another’s lives during their sabbatical from the music industry and Barry feels it is paying dividends now.

“We sent the odd Christmas card but that was about it,” he explained, unperturbed by the potency of his words. “It’s probably a good way to way spend your time away, if we hadn’t of had that complete break for a couple of year then maybe we wouldn’t have got back together now.”

The band is back though and, following a series of tours in 2012 to, as Barry describes it, “dip our toe in the water again just to see if the foundation’s still there,” the band released their third studio album in October, including its second single, She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving, which was released in February.

“It’s pretty much the same old s**t really,” he described with minimal enthusiasm. “We’re the same guys, same band, same songwriters, same musicians, it was never the idea to just recreate what we’ve done in the past because that wouldn’t be much fun for anybody, most of all us.“

Despite a five year break from the band, the album offers little in the way of originality and, while it sticks to the repetitive nature of Costello Music, it offers less in the way of catchy choruses and cheeky witticisms than their debut album.

Whilst The Fratellis are trying to restore their former energy in We Need Medicine, they haven’t quite found the right mix yet and, when band member Barry sounds as uninterested in the album as the rest of us, it leaves me wondering why we should be bothered either.