Tuesday 6 November 2012

Frazer King - Interview

Frazer King are an exciting six-piece band from Wythenshawe, Manchester. They are about to release a limited edition 300 only cassette mixtape called Idle Class Debris at Manchester's Night And Day this coming Saturday. We spoke to singer Nathan about the band, their influences, their famous producer and plans for the future.

If someone hadn't heard of Frazer King, how would you describe your sound? 

The sound of wasted youth.

Who are your musical inspirations and how have these influenced you? 

Gaz has been rocking ABBA for some time whilst he lifts weights in the mirror. Jono and Louis are Zappa freaks.  Lou can play loads of Arabic instruments and loves Avant Garde revolutionary composers who nobody's heard of or can listen to. Tony likes Status Quo because it reminds him of being young. Jack's favourite band are CAN but he brazenly insists that there's value in Fatman Scoop.

I used to be a real snob about music mainly to disguise my lack of character and fit in. That soon changed after some bright spark put Johnny Mathis on during a trip. Now I need to listen to Whitesnake to get out of bed in the morning.

In terms of influences, I enjoy great lyricists a lot. Stuff like The Pogues and The Bad Seeds have definitely had an influence because all I ever go on about is the Church, War or myself. I think we're influenced by many things though. Great comedians, writers, T.V. and films seep in and out of the stuff if your ears are attuned.

You're releasing a mixtape of older material. Could you tell me a little bit about the background to it and why you're releasing it? 

It's called 'Idle Class Debris' and is a mixture of stuff to cleanse the palate before we put the album out, including tracks from the sessions with Larry, live stuff, bedroom recordings and excerpts from police interview tapes from when I was less world weary.

It's basically for the people who've been at every gig we've done; the good, the bad and the ugly and yet still come back because they can't stomach haircut bands and find something alluring about a bunch of fuckheads singing about existentialist peas. Anyone else who likes it is a bonus.

I love the Zappa album Lumpy Gravy, which was basically two 30 minute tracks of excerpts and samples. We've gone for a similar approach albeit with full tracks and less Avant Garde noodling. It's definitely varied though and because it's on cassette you're more likely to sit through the torture and iron out your attention spans a little.

It will be put up as a download for the ipod generation at some point but we might just do it as 2 tracks to piss people off. With the skits included it's like a night out gone awry and put to music which is only usually experienced if you go to the Printworks of a weekend. This is slightly less unnerving and can be experienced in the safety of your own home with less chance of being bottled.

Your debut EP is called Working Towards The Fuhrer and some of your lyrics could be deemed a little controversial. Is this a deliberate attempt to shock people? 

Firstly, the name of the E.P. was lifted by a speech from a Prussian civil servant about gaining favour with Hitler despite not fully believing in his ideals. It was then adopted by the party ad hoc and led to more extreme policies basically to further their careers. We thought it summed up the music industry perfectly.

If people listened to our songs they'd know that we're far from being Nazis. As for my lyrics, I don't swear and I don't aim my songs at kids. If you want to be shocked then read the lyrics to 'When I grow up' by the Pussycat Dolls or countless other stuff on the radio but don't listen to it if you can help it. It's the sound of spoilt brats crying for attention, encouraging kids to aspire to materialist bollocks.

I know there's always been risque tunes but stuff like Louis Jordan or Nina Simone singing 'I love to love' are still genuinely thrilling, likewise with punk and gangsta rap they're not like some sinister tune written by middle aged men to soundtrack a Chlamydia timebomb and encourage spending at Accessorize.

I know I sound like Mary Whitehouse but I'm definitely puritanical when it comes to bad writing whatever the content. We've entered an age where bad songs with cheap lyrics are accepted but a song about war or politics won't get aired. There's an amazing rapper called Jun Tzu who is from Belfast and was set to play the Mobo's but the organizers pulled him due to the fact he has some substance and is saying something. Obviously not as relevant as Alt J.

We recently went on BBC radio for a pre-recorded session and recorded a song called Military Wives, which won't get aired. It's a doo wop tune, which lyrically is a bemused cry for sanity rallied at the war machine which the BBC is undoubtedly a part of. I find Michael Macintyre's existence more shocking, but there you go...

Are you worried that this might put potential listeners and record companies off you? 

If people are put off by emotions then they're beyond help. I'd rather preach to the converted than waste my time explaining why mediocrity in music, comedy and writing is dumbing the country down at a time when World War 3 is encroaching, the Tories are running riot and the NHS is being dismantled.

I'm sorry but it doesn't matter how you'd describe yourselves politically, left, right, middling or whatever. If you have a soul then some of the things happening, ATOS for example cannot be argued for. They are pure evil. As for record labels, your question kind of suggests that they have a moral compass. They don't. If something sells they will pedal it regardless of content. It's the same with smaller labels who pride themselves on being 'with it'. We've had an array of capitalists with beards check us out only to waste our time so fuck them.

You've recorded your debut album with Larry Gott from James? How did that come about and what has he brought to your sound? 

We supported James on a few dates and Larry stayed in touch. He's definitely infused us with enthusiasm which I thought was impossible. He's been very patient with us and incorporated a few tricks from Brian Eno, not quite Tarot cards but definitely stuff to loosen us up before takes which has led to some nice surprises.

We have never actually owned any of our own amps either. We'd always use other bands stuff or mic up practise amps. He's given us a kick up the arse with regards to our sound and how important it is live. We don't have an excuse for shit gigs anymore.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and into 2013? (live and releases) 

We launch the mixtape Saturday 10th November at Night and Day on Oldham St., Manchester. There's 300 copies we need to sell to pay for our album to be mixed and some videos to be finished. I'd like to be less precious in the future and put our stuff out as we write it so a portable studio is on my Christmas list. That's if the world hasn't ended. We can only hope.

Watch: The Frazer King Mix Tape Trailer

You can find Frazer King on Sound cloud

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