Frankie & The Heartstrings talk upcoming Pop Recs gigs and plans for the summer

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Frankie and the Heartstrings

Pop Recs Ltd has been one of Sunderland’s most loved independent businesses since it opened back in the summer of 2013. A record store that also proves a great venue for live music, its stage has seen the likes of Edwyn Collins, The Futureheads, Maximo Park and Franz Ferdinand play to hundreds.

Over the next couple of months, owners Frankie & The Heartstrings are not only working on a new album but putting on free gigs with Little Comets, Spectres and Dutch Uncles. I spoke to guitarist Michael McKnight about the shows, the album and a dream of playing Coachella.

You’ve just announced a run of in-store gigs, how did they all come about?

“Dutch Uncles and Little Comets have both played here before, so they actually got in touch with us, which was quite nice. Little Comets are doing a tour of a few record stores and so are Dutch Uncles and because they’re friends of ours they got in touch and asked if they could come and play and we were thrilled, you know. I guess the state of music now is that bands have to do these little extra things. If you can come and do a show and play in front of 200 people in a record shop and they all buy your CD and then it registers for the charts, if you do five of those in a week you’ve sold an extra thousand albums, which is probably all you need for a number one nowadays. Things like that can really make a difference to a band.”

Are all the gigs you’re putting on free?

“Yeah, these three are. And for the Spectres one, they have an album coming out on a record label called Sonic Cathedral and the guy who runs that went to Sunderland University – like all the cool people. He got in touch with us because we’ve put a couple of his bands on before. But it’ll be great, yeah. That might be one that people have to come down early to check out.”

Is there one you’re looking forward to in particular?

“I love Dutch Uncles. We’ve done a tour with them before and we’ve been to see them a few times and been on the razz with them a few times so that should be good fun, yeah. I think they’re a great band and the new album sounds fantastic.”


Frankie & The Heartstrings toured a couple of weeks back, how was that for you?

“There’s a thing called Independent Venues Week which is a week to celebrate and promote independent venues around the country and that’s important because, you know, everybody has to start somewhere and these are the places people start. Without them, we wouldn’t have bands. That was what the tour was – we were the only band that played an independent venue every night of Independent Venue Week. It was good fun, we got to go to some interesting places like, for example, Harlow, which was great because it really reminded us of Sunderland in the 80s.”

So do you have any plans for another album anytime soon?

“Yeah, I think we’ve got the album coming out in about June this year. It’s got a sax solo on it. It’s not played by me, unfortunately. With the album coming out in summer we’ll probably do some festivals around that time.”

Is there any festival in particular you’d love to play at?

“I mean, Coachella looks pretty good. Or if Hawaii has any festivals, I’d be up for that. I hear Australia’s beautiful at that time of year as well. I know Weezer did a cruise – like a festival on a cruise liner around the Caribbean – so if we could go on Weezer’s cruise, something like that would be ideal. But if not, you know, Kendall Calling’s pretty exotic so we can go with that.”

Who would your dream artist be to play Pop Recs?

“Edwyn Collins and it happened in the first week. We kind of got off to too much of a good start, we’ve got nowhere to go from here really. There’s loads of people we’d love to play here. I  think someone like The Vaccines would be pretty cool, you know, that’d be quite exciting because they’re one of the biggest bands around at the moment who’ve only got a couple of albums out.”

And they’re playing Hartlepool soon too, that was a bit of a surprise…

“Yeah, I thought that was a bit odd as well. It’s not really on the touring circuit, is it?”

Not really! Pop Recs is turning two this summer. Will you be doing anything to celebrate?

“We should do. We basically forgot for the first birthday, so maybe for the second one we should try and do something a bit more exciting! We’ll see.”

Spectres play Pop Recs Ltd on February 25. Free. Doors 5.30pm. Dutch Uncles play Pop Recs Ltd on March 1. Free. Doors 6pm.


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