As he readies the release of his third album with his Latchkey Kids project, we spoke to Liam Frost ahead of his Manchester Deaf Institute headline show tomorrow night (August 25th).
Smoke is your new single. Could you tell us a little about what the song is about?
Smoke is a song of grief, acceptance and reflection. I lost my mum a while back, and the song came about in the weeks after that. We were clearing her house and I found a press cutting of an old City Life magazine interview, in which I was wearing these tatty chequered-flag Vans and a suit jacket from Pop Boutique – there was the first line. There was a nostalgic element to it all, as can only be expected in the period after losing somebody so close. I guess I’m taking a look at myself as a younger man and seeing how I’ve done.
It’s been played by Radio X. Was it a surprise after so long away to have the song picked up by a national station?
Regardless of whether it’s Radio X picking up Smoke, or somebody relaying a story of what a song of mine has done or soundtracked in their own life, I’m fascinated and humbled that these little three-to-four minute nuggets of music make their way our into the world and mean something to somebody else. What a wonderful thing.
Is it representative of what to expect from the album?
Yes and no. I think this record is a return to the country and Americana-influenced sound of particularly my first album. But there are some moments that feel like out and out rock music in comparison to past offerings. It’d be remiss of me to not mention the work of Roo Walker on this album, who produced the whole thing alongside me and provided the lion’s share of guitar work.
Could you tell us a little about the writing and recording process for the record?
This was quite a quick writing process really. The recording part was funded entirely by my PledgeMusic campaign, so obviously there was a logistical element to all of that. What I was keen to do was retain the energy and emotion of my initial demos. Sometimes in the gap between the demoing and realization of a song, these things can lose something. Roo recounted that we often get my best and most honest vocal takes in the first go, and so I decided to get the most accomplished players I know and track the whole thing live to analog tape at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool. What you’ll hear is pretty much the first or second take of each tune. A few overdubs were recorded at Roo’s studio in Clitheroe, but that’s pretty much it.
As you’ve got older have the things that inspire you to write changed? And if so, in what way?
I often find myself looking back at songs after the recording process and wondering where these lyrics come from. For me there’s an overarching mood created and I wonder if it comes from something deeper in me, almost something involuntary.
As ever I’m intrigued by the way we interact in day-to-day relationships, I guess through the lense of time moving by and life circumstances changing. What I write about doesn’t change as such, more the way I look at things.
Have you found self-releasing this one to be easier because you’ve had more control than Spectres or Rain where you had a label involved?
I’ve been quite lucky to have not had to worry much about any of that across any of the records I’ve released really. Spectres was backed by the financial muscle of a major label, but because it came out through an affiliated imprint I feel like we flew under the radar a bit. It just had the sheen and presentation of a major label album. We Ain’t Got No Money was in part co-written, but you have to remember that I left Sony in the middle of that process – I think it would have been a much different record had I stayed. I’ve just concentrated on what it is I’m saying in the songs, you can dress these things any way you want but it always goes back to the song.
You made a comment about being a best kept secret on social media. How much of a frustration is it that your records haven’t had the acclaim they deserved?
I had wondered if that might be misconstrued! This has been a long journey, and it blows my mind that there are people who have been with me from the get-go – even prior to the release of Spectres. I see that “Manchester’s best kept secret” thing banded about a lot in tweets and messages, like an ownership of something that is just theirs. Being famous is something that has never been that interesting to me – it seems exhausting from the people that I have met in that position. I just have these songs quietly burning at the core of me and I want to play them. It could be a tiny room or some massive venue – but are cool. It’d just be nice to make some more money eventually. Ha!
You’re playing a show at the Deaf Institute on Saturday. Will the setlist be the new material or can we expect some old favourites?
It’ll be a mix, but I’ll lean heavy on the new album. I realize that people genuinely love those older songs, and so it’s a real honour to play those too. I need to find a way to re-work some of the TOKOLOSH songs into my solo shows – not one to engage in the masturbatory act of listening to my own songs all the time, but I did pull up Stay Strong on Spotify a bit back. I’m so proud of some of those lyrics.
What else can we expect from you in the next few months? Will you be touring the album?
The release of this thing is two-fold really. First and foremost is getting the album out to pledgers, alongside all the other gubbins that folks signed up for as part of that campaign. The general release will follow; I’m just not quite sure how I’m going to go about that yet. There is talk of a label possibly coming in to assist, and I can see the benefit of handing over marketing responsibility to those who know what they’re doing with it al.
As for shows - of course I’d love to tour! I think that is all hanging on the success of the general release. I’ll be out somewhere though, be it playing solo shows or with the Latchkeys.
Liam Frost can be found on Facebook, Soundcloud, Youtube and Twitter. The website can be found here and the Pledge Music campaign is now live.