Frankie and the Heartstrings still have hunger as Sunderland show brings the curtain down on 2011

Frankie and the Heartstrings, left to right;  Michael McKnight, Mick Ross, Frankie Francis, Dave Harper and Steve Dennis.
Frankie and the Heartstrings, left to right; Michael McKnight, Mick Ross, Frankie Francis, Dave Harper and Steve Dennis.
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WHILE you wouldn’t quite describe it as their breakthrough year, 2011 has certainly been one when Sunderland’s Frankie and the Heartstrings have demanded attention.

Festival appearances and tour dates across Europe, a debut album, support slots with Primal Scream, Kaiser Chiefs and The Vaccines and even a bout of fisticuffs have punctuated 12 months that have rarely been dull for singer Frankie Francis, guitarists Micky Ross and Michael McKnight, bass player Steve Dennis and a drummer who is surely destined to be referred to in future as the Dave Harper.

Frankie and the Heartstrings in Sydney, Australia

Frankie and the Heartstrings in Sydney, Australia

After all their meanderings, 2011 comes to an end on familiar territory on Thursday – right here at home in Sunderland with a gig at Independent, on Holmeside.

GO TO www.netickets.net FOR TICKETS TO SEE FRANKIE AND THE HEARTSTRINGS AT INDEPENDENT

It’s a show that was born out of frustration – arranged in the wake of the power going out on them as their set at the Split Festival was coming to a close.

Conspiracy theorists would suggest the plug was pulled because Wearside’s finest had overrun and were determined to get through one last song. The official line, of course, is that there was a power failure, and it certainly took a while to convince members of the band that was true as a backstage ruckus ensued.

FRANKIE AND THE HEARTSTRINGS playing football with The Vaccines during their national tour

FRANKIE AND THE HEARTSTRINGS playing football with The Vaccines during their national tour

Frankie said: “We were angry at the time but we have to accept the official explanation of what happened and it was important that Split wasn’t remembered for that kind of thing. It was a great weekend again and we’ve got massive respect for the organisers.

“We didn’t want people in Sunderland to have that as the last memory of us for the year so we sorted the Independent night and tickets have gone really well.”

It’s a wonder the band have energy after globe-trotting promoting their music. Frankie’s brief diary of the year shows a packed schedule that has thrust the Heartstrings to new audiences, while they have also found time to write new material.

“The album coming out was a massive thing,” he said. “We invested a lot in that and we’ve been pleased with the way the music’s been received.

FRANKIE AND THE HEARTSTRINGS slightly blurred, but so were the next day's memories as they join Foo Fighter Dave Grohl at the NME Awards

FRANKIE AND THE HEARTSTRINGS slightly blurred, but so were the next day's memories as they join Foo Fighter Dave Grohl at the NME Awards

“I still don’t think our sound has been captured properly on record so we’re working on that now with Bernard Butler.

“We’ve about 10 new tracks ready and we want to have another 10 songs before we think about what might go on the next album.

“We’ve been playing a few of the new tracks live and hopefully we’ll have a few more when we play Independent.

“The plan is to have a good body of work to choose from for the next album.

“When Hunger came out, that was basically all the music we had written.”

Without the backing of a major label, seeing the debut album Hunger in the top 40 was a huge compliment to the band’s hard work.

“It’s been great – we’ve kind of been swept along but it’s been an amazing few months and brilliant to take our music to so many different audiences,” Frankie said.

“We just have to keep working hard, keep putting on hopefully good live shows and get some new recordings out in 2012.

“There are some exciting things on the horizon. We’re playing again with Kaiser Chiefs in February and hopefully we can keep meeting really interesting people.

“The most recent tour with The Vaccines has been the best fun yet. They had seen us play at festivals and asked us to come on board for the tour, which we regard as a massive compliment from a band that’s doing really well.

“They’re really good lads as well. We’ve been very lucky.”

Blown fuses, short fuses and electrifying performances. If 2012 is half as interesting for Frankie and the Heartstrings, it should be quite a ride.