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By: Tim Forster
As with most festivals I went along to this month’s Loud Women Festival in London for one band in particular but instead of my normal festival experience of a mixed bag of varying interest (to me), there was a continual stream of great bands! One of the stand out bands that day, and I hadn’t previously heard of them, were The Franklys. They came on early evening (I think, by then I was a bit time warped) and were outstanding; mesmeric, energetic, playing a kind of danceable garage rock. When I got home I checked them out online and turned out they played Download Festival earlier this year! The Franklys are comprised of Jennifer Ahlkvist, Fanny Broberg, Zoe Biggs and Lexi Clark and were described by Shindig! Magazine as…’classic old school rock…riotous girl rebellion…frankly something you should be getting yourself some of’.(1) Despite the awful pun they’re right, so I contacted the band for an interview!
(((o))): Could you give us an overview of The Franklys?
Two of us are from Sweden and two from England, and we play frenetic garage rock with heavy and psychedelic overtones á la Led Zeppelin-Blondie-Strokes-QOTSA-punk-pop-rock-madness.
We’ve toured across both the UK/Europe and America, including festival slots at Isle of Wight, Download Festival and Camden Rocks, and our debut album is out early 2017!
(((o))): What artists and other figures have influenced you as a band and individuals?
Blondie, The Strokes, Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, The Runaways, Green Day to name but a few.
Bands that we are currently enjoying….Petrol Girls, The Tuts, WHITE, La Luz, Muncie Girls & Tom Jones
(((o))): Did you have a clear idea of the sound you were aiming for from the start or has it gradually taken shape? How would you describe your sound?
It’s been a natural progression I think towards the sounds we are putting out now. We never want to be put in a ‘box’ so we try to get lots of different elements or the unexpected into our songs, whilst keeping a sort of heavy garage rock backbone to it. We definitely sound different to how we did a few years ago, and that’s great because you want to keep pushing forward.
(((o))): Earlier this year Lexi Clark joined as drummer, has that reconfiguration changed the band’s sound at all? Given it a different dynamic?
It’s always going to be a different dynamic playing with someone new, who will bring new skills, and sounds to the table, and Lexi is a great drummer so it’s just been very easy for the rest of us to adapt around that. Our sound and live performance is still as energetic as ever!
(((o))): I was watching the video to ‘Comedown’ and it reminded me of the third series of ‘The Bridge’ where due to trauma and drugs the male detective sees his deceased family around the home, the visions ceasing as he recovers. Was a similar idea running through the video, of a man haunted by figures from his past, but in this case pressuring him to sort his life out? Was the song/video based on any particular incident?
Haha that’s a great interpretation and I love that you have really thought about it! That’s one of the reasons we’ll rarely tell you what actually inspired a song’s lyrics, then everyone can take away their own meaning from it, and nobody is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it’s just a different view. Jen’s lyrics come from so many different inspirations, there’s always a new meaning to be found.
(((o))): How does the creative process work within the band-is it collaborative or one writer per song?
Usually we will just jam together and the beginning of something will start from there. Or someone will come in with a riff or a beat that we then work on and build up. Overall, as long as something sounds good and sticks in our heads then we’ll work on it.
(((o))): You play an intriguing spectrum of gigs from Isle of Wight and Download Festival to Loud Women to small town venues, is it hard to adjust to different settings? Does the immediate environment-the audience/ building-affect what you play or are you fairly self-contained?
There’s no denying there is a different feeling and vibe to those varying venues, but we never change or try and stifle our performance for anything. Even on the tiniest of stages (or floors!) we are still trying to bring as much energy to it as possible, which usually means a guitar in the face or a cymbal in the back, but it’s all part of it!
(((o))): I saw you at Loud Women where you were amazing! Do you prefer playing live or songwriting and recording-which context suits your music best or do the different situations emphasise different aspects?
Thank you, we’re glad you enjoyed it! I think it’s been hard for us so far to capture the energy of our live performance on recording, but with the new album it’s closer than it’s ever been. It’s hard to say whether there’s a preference for either; they’re two different beasts.
(((o))): When you go in the studio are your songs pretty much complete and it’s just a case of recording or are they still a work in progress?
I think it depends on the song really, mostly the songs are complete and ready to record but as we go along we will always hear new things to be added or taken away that make the song better as a whole. It’s a luxury to be able to sit and listen back to a song and hear it as a listener rather than as the musician playing it – you notice things you usually wouldn’t when you are playing it altogether as a band.
(((o))): Female musicians can experience at least casual sexism. What has your experience been like in the rock scene? Historically it’s often been very macho, do you think things are improving?
Casual sexism, overt sexism…it’s still out there and still happening, of course not only in this industry. Personally I feel like things are improving, but there is such a long way to go and we have to keep pushing for changes. Maybe it’s because of who I follow on Twitter, Instagram etc. but there seem to be a lot more visibility of musicians who are female than there ever was, and it’s getting better every day. But, then again…in the mainstream, I’m not convinced many are breaking through to the public consciousness, which means you have to really seek these out and be motivated to do so. In terms of our own experiences, well, how many male musicians do you think have had a sound engineer come up to them and try to change the settings on their guitar for them in the middle of a soundcheck? Or had the comment ‘oh you play well for a boy’? Perhaps some, but we are still scratching our heads over this A+ comment from a sound engineer the other week ‘oh where’s the drummer, probably gone off to buy some new shoes…’, hmm…
(((o))): What plans do you have for 2016/17? I think you’ve a single out later this year and an album coming out next year, will you be out on tour in support of that?
We are currently finishing up mixing and mastering our debut album, which will be released early next year. It’s been a long time coming and we can’t wait to share it with everyone. And we have just announced a few live dates, which you can check out here www.thefranklys.com/live We’ll be celebrating the launch of our new single with a gig at The Shacklewell Arms on 2nd November, hope to see you there!