Music from the heart

Frankie and the Heartstrings band. Frankie Francis, Michael McKnight, Dave Harper, Dennis, Mick Ross
Frankie and the Heartstrings band. Frankie Francis, Michael McKnight, Dave Harper, Dennis, Mick Ross
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THIS weekend Ashbrooke Sports Ground will host one of the city’s biggest music events, The Split Festival.

TheGuide caught up with Anthony Francis, aka Frankie Francis from Frankie & the Heartstrings, one of the acts set to wow the crowds.

FRANKIE & The Heartstrings play Split Festival for the third consecutive year, this time as the second headline slot on the Sunday, meaning they’ll be on before indie giants The Charlatans.

The Guide: You’ve played Split Festival since it began, how do you feel both the band and the festival have progressed?

Frankie Francis: “I think that the band’s progressed a lot. It’s nice that we’re still able to play Split Festival, because as we’re growing, the festival’s growing.

“It’s almost going hand in hand with our careers at the moment.

“Maybe next year it’ll outgrow this place at Ashbrooke and move somewhere else, and we can still play and maybe headline the whole thing.

“Who knows? It’s weird what can happen in 12 months. It’s a nice thing to be involved with though.”

Do you think you’ll ever be too big to be in Split Festival or other gigs in Sunderland?

“I don’t think any band will ever be too big to play in Sunderland. Certainly, it’s a bad way to think about your approach to anything, if you think you’re too good for something, because everyone’s the same.

“This festival will continue to grow and grow, and get bigger and bigger bands, and if we can be a part of that along the way it’d be an amazing experience. I just love Split, it’s in our home town, it’s great.

You’re playing alongside The Charlatans, who’ve been there and got the T-shirt so to speak. How much does that mean, and what can you learn from them?

“Yeah, well Dave, our drummer, was at The Charlatans’ first ever gig, so it means a lot to him.

“They’re indie legends, been going for years and have lots of great songs. Equally important though for me is just to be associated with The Split Festival.

“Bands like Leatherface are playing this year, and certainly The Futureheads wouldn’t be here without Leatherface, and we wouldn’t be here without The Futureheads.

“It’s kind of like a Sunderland ladder of luck has been passed down, and we’re on the bottom rung, the first step, but it’s good.

The Futureheads have taken more of a backstage role this year, helping with the organising of things. Is that something you might get into one day?

“Yeah, maybe, once we’re four albums and 10 years along the line like those guys.

“We’ve still got a lot to prove. But you never know. To be involved in a festival in any commodity is exciting, for myself anyway. It’s a pleasure to be a part of.

So what’s next for Frankie and the Heartstrings?

“We’re very conscious of what we’re doing, we want to constantly move forward with everything.

“It’s been an incredible 12 months and I’m really looking forward to the next 12.

“Just look forward to your next gig, that’s all you can do really.”