Festivals pull on the Heartstrings

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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FRANKIE Francis has a lot on his mind.

After surviving the Scottish mud at T In The Park last weekend and looking from afar at an equally-wet Glastonbury last month, the Frankie and the Heartstrings frontman has weighty issues to consider with a busy summer of festivals still ahead for the Sunderland five-piece.

“I know it sounds vain but I’m less worried about making sure I’ve got my wellies than I am about making sure I keep my hair dry,” joked the purveyor of Wearside’s most famous quiff.

There are worse things to be worried about, of course, and with so much to look forward to in the coming weeks, it’s natural that Frankie should be in good humour as he takes a break from rehearsals at The Bunker.

As well as a set on the T Break stage at T In The Park last weekend and Hard Rock Calling in London last month, Frankie and the Heartstrings have, among others, slots at Leeds/Reading Festivals and Cumbria’s Kendall Calling – voted Britain’s best small festival last year – before coming home for Sunderland’s Split Festival on September 17/18.

“We love doing festivals,” admitted Frankie, with customary relish.

“I’ve heard a lot about Kendal Calling. We’ve never played there before so that will be really good.

“Reading and Leeds look like being the biggest gigs of our lives so far. We could be playing in tents with 10,000 people in them.”

Does that sort of thing not worry him, especially playing to a crowd that hasn’t necessarily paid to come and watch them?

“It’s a massive buzz,” insisted Frankie. “It’s been great since the album came out to travel around and hear audiences singing our songs back to us. It’s the closest we’ll come to lifting the World Cup!

“You get a really diverse crowd at festivals. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but we’re confident in ourselves playing live and go out and put on the best show we can.

“It’s great to try to win a few hearts and minds. I don’t get nervous about that at all; I think all of us would say that’s the most exciting part about festivals.”

Since the release of debut album Hunger, the Heartstrings – Frankie, Steven Dennis, Dave Harper, Micky McKnight and Mick Ross – have been busy spreading the word across the UK and Europe.

Festival season gives them some down time during the week, and they aim to put it to good use.

“It means we can practice during the week – work on new things,” said Frankie. “We’re dropping new songs into the live sets all the time. It’s always interesting to see the response.

“We’ve probably got an hour of live stuff to play now and I remember when we only had four songs!

“Constant travelling, but that’s mainly at weekends at the moment because we’re going to festivals.

“It’s great fun. We’re meeting a lot of interesting people and get to see what other bands are up to.

“We’ll have some exciting new announcements to come soon and life couldn’t be much better, really.

“Doing Split Festival here in Sunderland is obviously something we’re really looking forward to.

“We’re playing festivals in Europe for the first time and it’s always a different experience in different countries.”

Just make sure the quiff stays dry, Frankie.