Friday 23 March 2018

Speaking frankly, these guys still make shimmering pop

The orange tops and purple flares might have done it. It was 1992; Top of the Pops came calling, and Paul Linehan and Co were having a laugh.

Which explains why The Frank and Walters were perceived as a novelty rock outfit straight out of the Rebel County. A trio of jokers with bad haircuts, catchy choruses and dreadful fashion sense. But a top 20 hit in the UK said the lads were doing just fine.

"It was a bit of fun for us," says Paul, the group's bass-slinging frontman. "We were kind of overwhelmed by the whole thing and we thought it was kind of like a joke that we were so successful at the time."

Successful as it was, The Franks' moment in the spotlight wouldn't last long. Debut album Trains, Boats and Planes kept them busy for a while, but by the time a second album came about (1997's Grand Parade), they were "out of fashion".

Britpop was all the rage, and The Frank and Walters, though specialising in playful, carefree melodies were old news.

"We never jumped back to the same kind of success that we had with our first album," admits Paul (44). "We were Irish, we weren't British," he laughs, "so when we came back with that then, we were just left behind."

Contrary to popular belief, the band never went away. Some might see their sixth studio offering, the wonderful Greenwich Mean Time, as a comeback album of sorts, if only because of the length of time that's passed since their last record, 2006's A Renewed Interest in Happiness. But that's how they roll -- an album every few years. When you least expect it.


The band - now a four-piece - may have lost one of the original line-up along the way (Paul's brother Niall left in 2004), but they've rarely lost their touch: shimmering guitar pop at its finest.

"I think that our music has got better," explains Paul, "it's just that we didn't get the break again. So, at this stage, I have no expectations anymore. We just put it out there in the hope that people will like it, and that's kind of the way it works."

It's difficult not to bring up some of the more amusing stats in this band's career. Noel Gallagher was their roadie; Suede and Radiohead supported them -- the list goes on. So why aren't they bigger?

"Maybe we could be a bit bigger," says Paul, "but I wouldn't like to be too big because I do like being anonymous and I like my privacy. Honest to God, I would not like to be a very famous man," he laughs.

The Frank and Walters are live at the Workman's Club, tonight. Greenwich Mean Time is out now

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