photo: Krystl Vest
From the category, “Guess Who’s Not on the List”, followed by a frantic series of phone calls across the country, I managed to get into the Masquerade in Atlanta to sit down with Framing Hanley’s vocalist, Nixon, to get the scoop on their latest release The Sum of Who We Are and the start of their new headlining tour.
HHM: First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. This almost became the interview that wasn’t.
Nixon: You’re welcome. I’m not really sure what happened with that, we didn’t know anything, but glad to do it. Apparently a little communication error (laughs)
HHM: It happens. Apparently, it’s not fun if there isn’t some drama (laughs)
HHM: You had a Kickstarter campaign you launched back in 2012 to support the new album. How did making a fan funded album affect your approach to the making of The Sum of Who We Are?
Nixon: It was directly why everything took so long, it gave an extra heaviness, not in terms of the music, but in terms of the weight on us because we knew the people that funded it were the people who are fans of our band and we felt like we had to give them the best album we could. We spent 2 ½ to 3 years doing that. It was easy to get down about how things were going when we spent all that time on it but I think the end result is the best album we have ever done in our career. I couldn’t be happier and I wouldn’t trade any of that time at all.
HHM: It’s been four years since your last album. That has to have given you a lot of time to grow and create ideas for the new album. How did you decide what to keep and what to let go?
Nixon: There were definitely some songs that didn’t make the cut, but we’ve always kind of had a rule, there’s not a type of song that we can’t write. We’ve never wanted to set limitations for our music and you know, we probably wrote 35 songs this time and we put 13 on the album. There are always songs that don’t make the cut, but not in terms of because it didn’t fit a certain style. I think this is probably the most diverse album we have ever made. One thing I have always said is that when we feel like we are not evolving any more as songwriters or as musicians that will be the day that we walk away from this. The bands we look up to as musicians are the ones that continually evolve with every album. They bring something new to the table each time. Bands like the Foo Fighters, Incubus, Thrice, Biffy Clyro, those are bands that every album you are getting a new piece of that band. That is the goal. Every album, continue to evolve. If it ever ends, if it ever stops, then that will be the day we walk away from this.
HHM: With The Sum of Who We Are having just been released yesterday, what can those who haven’t had the chance to hear the album yet expect?
Nixon: A summation of the past few years of our lives, honest lyrics, and just some kick ass rock and roll
HHM: I gave it a listen yesterday and spent a little time today and I already have a few favorite tracks. Personally, Castaway was the one that hit me.
Nixon: It’s the most special song to me on the album. It’s the most special song in terms of the story of our band. There were a lot of times over the past several years where we didn’t know if this album would ever be released. We didn’t know if we had played the last show we were ever going to play. That was a kind of turning point for us, that there is a loyal group out there that support us no matter what we do, so we’ll keep doing this and we will go down with this ship.
HHM: That’s probably one of my favorite lines out of that song
Nixon: Thank you
HHM: Much like Atlanta, Nashville is not really known for its Rock bands. What challenges did Framing Hanley face breaking out onto the Rock scene from city known for its Country music?
Nixon: I don’t know if that sets a limit that really prohibits your band from achieving any amount of success. At the end of the day, we came from an extremely supportive local scene and that made us a stronger band. The local Rock scene in Nashville is one of the best in the country. We’ve seen local bands from nearly every city in this country and some of the bands I’ve seen in Nashville kicking around on the local scene in Nashville for years, should be signed and playing in front of at least 300 people every night. The other thing a lot of people don’t realize is that there are bands like Paramore, Safety Suit, Kings of Leon, and Red that are from Nashville and we all came out, really, around the same time. Particularly us, Red, and Safety Suit. In fact we co-headlined a show here at the Masquerade a few years ago with Red and it was cool because we both came out of the same scene in Nashville at the same time. To me it’s been cool. I love the scene in Nashville. I am one of those guys who goes out and checks out a local show when I am home.
HHM: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?
Nixon: Being cast in the shadow of being the band that covers Lollipop. For a while it was really easy to be bitter about that. This album speaks volumes for where we are now as musicians and songwriters. It’s a lot easier now to be “ok” with being the band that plays Lollipop in their set, because for a while we took it out of our set and it was because of a disdain that I personally had, some of the other guys might have had, for the song, but at the end of the day there are memories attached to that song. You know a lot of people discovered our band because we covered that song and it was like I realized, “who am I to take that away from them”. Every song has a memory for someone. That song introduced a lot of people to Framing Hanley and thankfully a lot of them have stuck with us since then.
HHM: Tonight will be my first experience with you guys live. How would you describe a Framing Hanley live set?
Nixon: The same thing you expect in an album. There is no façade with us, we are just five jackasses that like to have a good time and play rock n roll. We leave it all on the stage because in today’s economy, any price for a ticket is not cheap and we just want people to leave the show knowing we are appreciative of the money they spent on tickets and that we are able to continue doing this solely because of those people. We are just honest dudes that are, um, idiots (laughs).
HHM: What are your favorite songs to play live?
Nixon: Criminal right now, because that’s the lead single from this album. It’s a fun song and I think even when some people in the crowd don’t know the song, I can tell that by the end of the song they are singing along at least the nah nahs. Castaway, actually we have only played that at the CD release in Nashville the other night. That was probably the most special moment ever on stage for us. A couple of us broke down on stage in the middle of the song. To play that live for the first time in our home town, that was really special.
HHM: Who has had the most influence on you personally as a musician?
Nixon: I think we draw inspirations from different people whether it be from other artists or the people who are in our daily lives, especially our families. One reason I think we do evolve as a band, hopefully, is because we do listen to a lot of different artists and we are influenced by a lot of different types of music and that gets put into this kind of melting pot of music that influences the kind of music we write. Like I said earlier, this album is a reflection of that. It’s a collection of stories from the past few years of our lives and everything we have been through.
HHM: Now the question I ask everyone. If you could take the stage, just one time, with any musician, living or dead, who would it be?
Nixon: Queen. Freddy Mercury is my favorite singer of all time. We don’t belong on a stage anywhere near that guy but that is who it would be. In an ideal world though, Queen and Guns n Roses. In terms of bands currently out there, Thirty Seconds to Mars is a band we have always loved and we would love to tour with. They would be an incredible band to share the stage with.
HHM: Is there anything else you’d like to put out there for your fans?
Nixon: Just make sure you pick up The Sum of Who We Are. A lot of people think record sales don’t mean anything to bands now-a-days because they don’t make any money from them. Every album sold means something and I’m talking about more than just money to the band. It makes your worth feel like so much more that your work is appreciated and it opens up more touring opportunities and things on radio. So just pick up a copy of the album and I promise you, it will not go unappreciated by us.
Interview by Gary Flinn HHM/Beyond The Pit photography
View more photos from the show HERE
For More Information:
- photos: Framing Hanley live at Masquerade in GA 4/30
- Framing Hanley offer fans three new songs as free download
- Framing Hanley to release 'The Sum Of Who We Are' Apr.29 on Imagen Records; pre-order now
- Framing Hanley release new single and tour dates with Three Days Grace
- Framing Hanley hit the road with Devour The Day to support new album out Apr.29 on Imagen Records
- Craig Owens to appear live online via Stage It May 15 at 9PM Eastern Time