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| 12 April 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Framing Hanley released their 4th studio album Envy via Thermal Entertainment on Friday, February 21st. Framing Hanley had released three albums prior to breaking up in 2015. The Moment (2007), A Promise To Burn (2010) and The Sum Of Who We Are (2014) has sold over 200,000 albums, 1.5 million downloads and music has been streamed over 150 million times.  Official music videos have surpassed 40 million views.  Radio hits included “Hear Me Now,” “Lollipop,” “You Stupid Girl,” “Collide,” and “Criminal.”  The band had toured coast-to-coast in North America and has had several successful European and Australian tours.” We were able to grab some phone time with frontman Nixon to discuss new music, touring, and more just before COVID-19 dismantled their touring schedule and the show was rescheduled for Friday June 19th [TICKETS HERE]…

Toddstar: Nixon, thank you so much for taking time out. I appreciate it.

Nixon: Yeah, man. Thanks for calling and thanks for the review.

Toddstar: Oh, no worries, man. It was a long time coming. A friend of mine – and we’ll get to that – has been on me for years “you got to check out Framing Hanley.”

Nixon: Yeah, I love your friend, man. I saw the end of the reviews, so I know it’s Minty. Minty’s my guy.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about the albums first and then we’ll get to the tour and then some history that you have up here in Michigan. As far as the album Envy, what can you tell us about this album that your fans may not grab the first or second time they listen through?

Nixon: Oh man, I don’t know. I really don’t know how to answer that. It’s just, it was a fun ass album to make. I know that. It was just like the process of falling in love with creating all over again was cathartic in many ways. When we took a hiatus, originally it wasn’t a hiatus – we were done for good. And now I have to call that a hiatus because we’re back, right? But when we took that hiatus in 2015, I just didn’t have any passion for music anymore. I had in fact the opposite, like a disdain for music. And when we fast forwarded a couple of years and when I started writing this album with Ryan, it was for the right reasons. It’s like, the way I always dealt with stuff growing up was just writing, song writing, and when that was kind of taken away from me from just not caring about music anymore because of the industry, I went through some shit for that first couple years of us breaking up that I didn’t know how to deal with. And again, just fast forward when I did pick up a pen again and uncased the guitars that I’d put away and started writing again, it was like therapeutic again. Like I said, it wasn’t like I wasn’t trying to write some single. It was just writing songs about stuff that I was going through. And I think that comes through on the album. I hope, at least. Like it’s an honest representation of who we are as men, who we are and where we’re at in our lives. Either shit that I was personally going through stuff or stuff that my best friend is going through. And yeah, I love creating. And so to get in that head space again to where it meant something was pretty special.

Toddstar: The thing I liked most about the album is it wasn’t a cut and dry one direction, one sound, one vibe the whole album. Was that just the way the songs came out when you were writing them, Nixon or was that something that you were kind of conscious of?

Nixon: No, I think it’s a combination of a bunch of things. One of those being this specific lineup now of us. This is the first album that was this combination of guys. Ryan and I were always the principal songwriters in FH, but sometimes in the past there might’ve been push back on a certain direction from a couple of the guys that just felt it wasn’t what represented us. And now to just have this freedom to where it’s like, yo, we can do whatever the hell we want to do. It doesn’t have to be, what does this mean? Like that’s not us. Like we are a combination of a bunch of different influences and inspirations. We listen to everything. Like most of the shit that I listen to nowadays, like I put up the end of the year my 19 of 19, like my 19 favorite albums that were released last year. And I would say probably the majority of them were hip hop albums. So that combined with the pop influence, and I feel like we had all these different elements from these different inspirations and different influences rather that we just love as artists that kind of came through in our writing. Yeah, man. Like I said, I’ll say it a hundred times. I love creating, I love writing, but I’m never one that’s going to allow myself to just be stagnant. I’m inspired by a lot of stuff. And a lot of that stuff is again, unfortunately, I find a lot more of it nowadays in the pop realm than I do the rock realm. And I think that speaks volumes to you just saying what you said where it’s like there wasn’t one direction of this album, but it’s very much still a rock band. That’s still very evident, but we don’t want to just grow stale on that. There are a lot of great fucking rock bands out here right now, but there are also a lot that are just stale as hell, and they’re doing what’s worked for so long. And I feel like we’re in a day and age where people can do that shit now and it’s like, man, if that’s your M.O. and that’s what you want to do, then enjoy it while it lasts. Your time is probably going to run up eventually, you know? And yeah, it’s like, I guess the short version, the short answer for that question is that we just get in there with no preconceived notion, or hey, it has to be this or anything like that when we’re writing. There’s just a freedom that allows it to just happen.

Toddstar: This will be embraced by your fans. There’s no doubt about it. Again, if somebody who had heard of you guys in the peripheral, again because of mutual friends, but had never really checked you out, and I embraced it. I loved it. So I can only guess the fans are going to jump all over it. What’s the feedback been so far from the people you’ve talked to?

Nixon: Thankfully, overwhelmingly positive. Which is nice, but it really doesn’t matter either at the end of the day. If this wasn’t well received, like maybe I’d be bummed and when I’m sitting here telling you I wouldn’t, but at the end of the day, we wrote this album for us. We wanted to put out an album that we felt was who we are now and not again, just like a better representation of us as artists, as musicians, as songwriters. And yeah, thankfully it seems most people have enjoyed it thus far and hopefully that continues to be the response, but it just feels good knowing that personally as artists we feel this is the best thing that we’ve done. And to that point, there’s some stuff that’s going to be coming in the very near future that I think will make some of the stuff on this album even pale in comparison.

Toddstar: Sure. Coming up soon, you’ve got some dates to promote this…

Nixon: Oh, yeah.

Toddstar: What are the songs that you’re really looking forward to playing off this release, and kind of mixing in with some of those hits and fan favorites and band favorites from the catalog?

Nixon: There are quite a few songs in the album that we’re not playing right now that I’m kind of bummed about. Like “Carousel” is one I’m excited to throw in the set, but right now we haven’t really been playing that. A large majority of the set will be the new album. And I think that’s just because it’s so fresh to us, and it’s fun to play. We haven’t been playing it for ten years like some of these other songs. But I mean “Forgiveness is an Art.” That’s one of the most fun songs. That’s really the opening of our set is just like banger banger, banger, like just hit hard. And it’s one of my favorites in the ten years that I’ve been playing music live that we’ve ever done. So we’ll see. Hope everyone has a good time with it.

Toddstar: Oh, I’m sure they will. Like you said, it’s the first album with the new lineup. What was it like for you guys to go in with that kind of freedom? You kind of hit on it earlier where it was like, okay, we’re not going to have any blow back, pushback or whatever from anyone else. Was it kind of that team mentality going into the writing and recording and production of the album where it was like, we’re all in this together? Let’s just hit what we can hit?

Nixon: I mean, yes and no. I don’t even think we had plans. When Ryan and I first started writing together again, there were no plans of it being a Framed Hanley album at all. We were another project. We were under the name Sumner Roots, because he and I are both from Sumner County here in Tennessee. And I was very much inspired at the time, still am. I think the greatest songwriter alive today is Jason Isbell. So it was pretty much like, I don’t know how to describe his music. It’s country, I guess, but it’s like country rock, roots country rock. He used to play in Drive By Truckers. So there’s definitely an element of rock to it, particularly when it comes to like the lead guitar. But it was more about the stories, and really focusing on the stories that he was telling. And when Ryan and I first started writing for this album, that was the direction we were going. And the more that we wrote together, the more we realized the higher the gain knob on the amp got turned up, and we realized we were writing another FH album. And we were like, why wouldn’t we release it under the name that people know us as? So it was like “Maeve” was the first song, I think actually that we were like, ah, is this what we were setting to do, or is this us just writing new FH stuff? And when we did “Puzzle Pieces,” it was very evident that’s what we were writing, was a new FH album. And yeah. From there, there were never any rules. There were never any, well, we can’t do something with that song because that’s not who we are. And I think when you’re setting those parameters for yourself, you’re kind of cutting yourself at the knees, as far as like the freedom is. It’s beyond liberating to just know that getting a room, work on some stuff, see what comes out. And if it doesn’t, if we wrote a damn country song, there’s a very good chance we could have put that on this album still, because it didn’t have to be something. I think really that style comes out in “Baggage Claim.”

Toddstar: That’s one of the songs I really kind of latched on to the first listen through, was “Baggage Claim.” It prompted me to give it that second listen, that third listen to when I was like, okay, now I’ve just got to review this. Because it was enough where it stuck in my head. You’re doing a few spot dates here and there, and you’re coming to a place that’s near and dear to my heart. And I know hands down it’s a Framing Hanley joint, The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan.

Nixon: Yes, sir.

Toddstar: What is it about the Machine Shop that it keeps you guys coming back time and time again?

Nixon: I mean, Kevin is a good friend of mine from the many great experiences we’ve had there. They do everything right there, man. It really started our very first show outside of our home state ever. When we were little kids, we were supporting Evans Blue and the first show for the tour was The Machine Shop. And I just remember showing up and the line being like around the parking lot already, and I was like, this looks like this might be a good time. And yeah, we’ve been fortunate enough to come back there many, many times. Many sell out shows there. It’s got like a home show atmosphere when we play there for us, which you don’t experience that very many places. Usually it’s just your home. If you’re fortunate, there’s a couple of venues that you can really have that kind of vibe with. But like Flint, very much it just feels like we’re home. It’s not some foreign territory for us. So yeah, and the staff there is great. Like I said, Kevin has taken care of us since we were kids. I think the first night started a little rough with us in transporting some booze back and forth when we weren’t supposed to be. But yeah, I love Kevin. I love what that club means to rock and roll, and anyone in this industry when you talk to them about The Machine Shop. And it’s fun because Flint, I don’t know if you know this, but Flint doesn’t have the greatest reputation as a city and most places in the state. So when people hear us talk about, oh, we’re going to Flint. They’re like, Flint! And then we’re like, well, let me tell you something about Flint. And then it’s just talking about how a little place The Machine Shop is, and how special it is and just you feel it in that room, man. From the moment you load in it’s like, hell yes. We’re back. We’re back in The Machine Shop.

Toddstar: I get it. I feel that every time I walk in the door. And it speaks volumes to you guys and your relationship with The Machine Shop, because as you know, they get tons of people through there. But for somebody like Minty, every time I’m up there he’d be like, dude, you got to check these guys out.

Nixon: Well, you better be there this time, man.

Toddstar: Oh, I’ll be there next Friday, March 20th. It’s going to be a great show. Every band wants to play the arenas and do the big sold-out tours and everything else. But what is it about a place like the Machine Shop or the smaller venues that really kind of caters toward what Framing Hanley does live?

Nixon: Man, I feel like in a lot of ways I feel like we’re fortunate enough to where it can translate, be it on the small side or the big festival circuit, or in a smaller club. I don’t know. I think it’s just that the proximity thing. Like we’ve done a number of the big festivals. At the large festivals, just that feeling of being so far disconnected from the crowd, that’s always been really weird. Especially the front man is like that barricade being there. But I don’t know. I love the feeling like almost like you’re playing in a damn house show in someone’s house, where everyone’s on top of each other. We kind of get that at The Machine Shop. There is that little bit of separation. Thank you. That a little bit of a separation, but it still just feels like you’re in a rock band still. There’s no separation of the church and state there. It’s like we’re all in this together, and that’s when you can have those type of shows, the intimacy there, it certainly helps from a performance standpoint.

Toddstar: I know you’re busy, so I just want to wrap it up real quick. Everything said and done, what’s the one thing besides the creation process that really drew you back into the industry? Which you kind of commented and hinted at earlier, it kind of gave you a little disdain for the music itself. What drew you back besides that creative piece?

Nixon: Just knowing that we were doing it for the right reasons this time. And like I was fortunate enough to step outside of music and have a career doing something else that allowed me the opportunity to not depend on that to support my family or to be my livelihood anymore. And that was like vital for us to really get back to it again for the right reasons this time. And that’s not to bad mouth our paths or to say that we weren’t passionate enough, because we certainly were. But it reached a point where all living negatives, like our very last tour in 2015 before we took that break, it was like a National Lampoon where everything that could go wrong was going wrong. And it was just like the wheels were falling off. And to get away for a few years, and again to feel like we felt when we were 14 year old kids playing music in our parents’ garages. Just the feeling of putting this album out, man. It felt like we were releasing our first album all over again. Like I just had that nervousness, the anxiety and the anticipation. It was all there. And I think it’s just because we separated ourselves from it for a little bit. And again, a lot of the credit goes to just this collection of guys, and it’s not just us getting together to play music. I love these dudes. They’re my best friends. We hang out outside, out of the rehearsal space all the time. It just felt natural and that’s when we’re like, cool. Why not keep writing and recording songs, and see what happens with this?

Toddstar: Sure. Last one for you, Nixon. If you could go back to 2005 knowing what you know now, what piece of advice would you give yourself when you were forming the band to begin with?

Nixon: To have fun. Soak up every moment. Maybe prioritize things just a little more than I did back then. I missed when my first son was born. I was in the studio like a week and a half later, and got snowed in up there in the Poconos for like three weeks. And then his first word I missed because we were in Manchester in the UK. And so I think taking the time away that we did in 2015, and realizing what was really important in life helps make that a lot clearer now. But really just to have fun and enjoy it while you can and probably just fucking take care of myself better than I did when we were touring.

Toddstar: Well, that comes with age, man. We all got to do that.

Nixon: Oh yeah. That’s certainly worse now, actually after taking a break than it was back then, probably.

Toddstar: I’m sure. Well, listen, man, I know I’m not the first, and I know I won’t be the last, but welcome back to rock and roll, Nixon.

Nixon: Thank you so much, man.

Toddstar: It’s such a killer album. I can’t wait to hear these songs live, and I can’t wait to be standing in that photo pit. Maybe even come back and say hello when you guys headline The Machine Shop on June 19th.

Nixon: We can’t wait to be back, man. I’ll look forward to seeing you in person.

Toddstar: All right, brother. We’ll talk to you then.

Nixon: Have we good one, bud.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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