Room 13: Howdy guys and gals – how are we all today?
Frank: Very well thanks.
Room 13: Now that 2004 is behind us, give a brief summary of the major Million Dead events of 2004.
Frank: Well, we spent the first half of the year showcasing in the states and promoting the Stevie Wonder single (touring etc.) which was so-so, largely because all was not well with Cameron. Thereafter we trained Tom up and broke him in over the summer, then toured with Sparta. We finished the year writing and recording our new album.
Room 13: Guitarist Cameron recently left the band – was the split amicable, and what was the reason behind his departure?
Frank: Cameron left because he's moved to the states to get married. He didn't really have time to do MD properly any more. No hard feelings, but given the international thing we don't see him too much these days!
Room 13: He’s been replaced by Tom Fowler from Abjure, a band I fondly remember making a mockery of you Kneejerk pussies on the ‘Don’t Clap It Startles Me’ split. How has he fitted into the band dynamic, and how has he changed your sound?
Frank: Ha ha, Abjure did kick our arse! Well, because we've known Tom for so long and played in bands with the guy there was never any real issue about him joining - it felt totally normal. In terms of the sound, he's brought his own style of playing, his own tastes to what we do, which you'll hear on the next record. I think we're a lot more cohesive in terms of our sound these days, we're all thinking in the same direction for once!
Room 13: When the band write new material is it a fairly organic, naturally evolving process; or do you have a set procedure that you follow – riffs first then lyrics, vice versa, etc?
Frank: It usually happens that a riff arrives, gets altered and added to and kicked around until we have a bare bones structure of drums and guitar. The bass lines attack, and vocals usually come last. But it's flexible. The only set thing is that lyrics are always the last to arrive.
Room 13: So how is the new album going – has it got a title / release date yet?
Frank: Well, we finished the mix last night! We're all very, very proud of it, we think it's awesome. I think we've bettered our first album, and I'm also very proud of that too. The title is going to be "Harmony No Harmony" (which comes from some Black Flag liner notes). Release is due for mid-May, with singles up front.
Room 13: What can we expect?
Frank: It's a very wide-ranging record - some of the most extreme stuff we've ever done sits alongside acoustic tracks. But it hangs together well, I think. I don't know - expect the best that the four of us have in us.
Room 13: In true cereal-packet style, sum up (in 30 words or less, of course) why people should spend their hard earned (sh)readies on your record.
Frank: Because we honestly believe it's a really good album, we think it's better than anything any of us have produced in the past, and I think it's better than most other albums out and about at the moment. That's an over-confident (arrogant?) statement, but we're very pleased with our album! Was that 30 words? Probably not now.
Room 13: When you were writing did you feel the pressure of expectation to repeat the success of ‘A Song To Ruin’?
Frank: We firmly believe that the only audience to write for is yourselves, so on that level we were just trying to do the best we could, and given that we're better musicians, tighter as a unit and so on, that should be better than ASTR. At the same time you can't totally ignore all the nice things people said about our debut album, and occasionally it weighed in on us - especially as far as lyrics were concerned. But you just get on with it, I guess.
Room 13: Were you surprised at the critical response your debut album received?
Frank: Yes. People got very over-heated about it, which was flattering but also a little alarming.
Room 13: Were you also wary that with the particularly fickle, image-conscious nature of rock fans, a rise in popularity could be subsequently met with a backlash of rejection – as any band that sells a lot of records are automatically branded ‘sell-outs’ (a la Hundred Reasons, Linkin Park, Lostprophets, Limp Bizkit, The Darkness – OK, a lot of those bands genuinely ARE rubbish, but you know what I mean…) and have their ‘cool’ status revoked?
Frank: We had a 'cool' status? I must tell my parents. Selling out is writing music for the wrong reasons. We haven't done that. We've been lucky that a lot of people have followed our musical trajectory this far. I hope they continue to do so, but in the end if people lose us, shit happens. I think we've put in enough work as a band to avoid most of that infantile shit. But then there's always someone...
Room 13: Do you feel comfortable in the studio, or do you find it overly clinical compared to the explosive atmosphere of your live shows?
Frank: It's a different thing completely. With both touring and recording, we love them for the first half of the process and then get to wish we were doing the other! It's satisfying to hear songs being perfected, but mixing can also be boring as hell. I guess it all beats office work, so no complaints from this camp.
Room 13: This explosive nature almost got you into trouble recently, when Matt Jay from Busted and his celebrity girlfriend were recently beaten from the premises by the sheer ferocity of your ‘underground metal’ (sigh) noise – a story that was featured in the bastion of truth and wisdom that is The Sun. I’ve heard that the incident involved an unholy rabble of wild men armed with blunt objects and a healthy contempt for chart-friendly pop-rock – it’s even been suggested that this event was solely responsible for their subsequent break up. Care to clear this up?
Frank: Haha, lot's of crap got talked. The initial story wasn't even true – he stayed to the end. He's an acquaintance of Julia's, so he came down as he's entitled to do. Some people gave him shit - an occupational hazard, as he's well aware. So what. Storm in a teacup. Busted don't bother me in the slightest.
Room 13: Why do you insist that Million Dead are not a political band, when several of your songs have lyrical content with a definite satirical tinge?
Frank: Satire and politics are not the same thing! The problem for me is that people have categories for bands to fit into (lyrically), and if anyone tries to say anything vaguely penetrating or interesting, it goes into the political box. Satire, social commentary and politics are all different things. The bottom line is we don't want to get backed into a corner where lyrics are the sole focus for the press. We're a band and the music, the sound, comes first. Always. Lyrics are icing.
Room 13: On a completely unrelated matter, what do you feel about George Dubyah’s re-election?
Frank: No massive surprise, but disappointing nonetheless. The guy is a dick - this isn't news. Four more years, sigh.
Room 13: Do you find it difficult to find a suitable balance between studying and the band?
Frank: I did... I've finished now. It's not much different from balancing work and the band, which is what everyone else was doing.
Room 13: Do you think it’s a good idea that Tim Burton is ‘re-imagining’ (how about that for a buzz word) Roald Dahl’s contemporary classic, with Johnny Depp in the role of the neo-liberal capitalist confidence trickster?
Frank: Um, as much as I love Burton and Depp, they've got their work cut out topping Gene Wilder - he was amazing. Incidentally, the lyrics to that song get taken way too seriously. Tongue, cheek etc.
Room 13: Frank – I’ve seen you photographed (on more than one occasion I might add) sporting a fetchingly camp cowboy hat – what the hell’s going on?
Frank: Ha ha ha, camp?!? Was Johnny Cash camp?? But whatever. I like cowboy hats because I love Cash and Neil Young. Bite me.
Room 13: You’ve just recently shot the video for your forthcoming single ‘Living The Dream’ – how did it go, and could you give us a brief description of what it’s like?
Frank: Just saw the edit today, and it looks ace. The shoot was insane - 85 kids in Glam Rock outfits on one day, and the four of us dressed and made up to the nines on a council estate in Kilburn the next. You'll understand when you see the clip, it should be out pretty soon.
Room 13: You and ben are not exactly what people would typically expect of two people from Eton; were you always this ‘rock’, and if so, how did you fit in with your fellow Etonites (isn’t that what hurts Superman)?
Frank: And so it comes back to bite us... When you're a kid, one school is much the same as another. Not so many people there were into punk and hardcore (3, actually - Kneejerk). But then back in the mid-1990's no one was really. But I'd like to assert that I have always been "this rock" because it sounds great.
Room 13: How do you think Julia copes with all the male attention, and does it annoy her and the band when some people are more interested in her looks than your musical abilities?
Frank: I can't answer this for Julia, but I will say that the whole wolf-whistle, "I want to fuck your bassist" routine really fucks me off. Get a fucking life you half-witted virgin.
Room 13: You’ve been doing some solo acoustic shows recently (including one for the tsunami relief benefit – good on you sir) – did you find it daunting to be on stage without the band behind you?
Frank: Terrifying. There's no one else to blame mistakes on. But it's fun when you get into the swing.
Room 13: So where do you go from here – what does 2005 have in store?
Frank: New singles and album, shitloads of touring here and abroad... MD mark 2 really, everything up a gear. I can't fucking wait for things to kick off properly, it's going to be ACE.
Room 13: Thank you for you time – it’s been a pleasure.
Million Dead's new album is due for an early-Summer 2005 release. For more information check out www.milliondead.com.
Room 13: Howdy guys and gals – how are we all today?