By Mark Plummer
Your new album The Sum of Who We Are has just been released, is this a collection of different songs with an underlying message, or is there a theme that runs from start to finish?
Nah, it’s really a collection of songs that explain who we are and what we’ve been through the past 3 1/2 years while making this album. A song about getting married, a song about being heart-broken, a song about being effed over; it’s all there. It really is our lives the past few years in a nutshell.
Did you try anything different in the recording process for this release that you haven’t attempted before?
We worked with multiple producers. That was something we hadn’t done prior. It was especially cool to see the different treatment that different songs would get from different producers. Took us out of our comfort zone a little, and I think that’s really something we needed as a band and as musicians.
The new album was born via a Kickstarter campaign – which seems to be a growing trend that only seems to be gaining momentum – how did you find the whole process?
I don’t know if “overwhelming” is a good word to describe it, but let’s go with that for lack of a better one. [laughs]
First off, never in a million years did we expect to have the type of response we got from our fans. But they responded and they went above and beyond. However, what we didn’t think about prior was the extra weight that came along with your fan-base funding your album. The very people who believe in and support Framing Hanley paid their hard-earned money up front for our album that they hadn’t even heard yet (it hadn’t even been recorded yet). So we knew this had to be our best stuff to date. So there were a lot of times over the past 2 1/2 years that we would take a song that we thought initially was complete and just send it back to the woodshed, completely demolish it and start all over because we convinced ourselves that it wasn’t good enough for our fans. I wouldn’t change it for the word though, because I know we have our strongest album to date because of us being so damn picky.
As you mentioned before, you enlisted multiple producers for this release. How did you come to the decision to have a collection of musical minds rather than the more conventional route?
It was very different for us, but it was refreshing to see different songs get different treatment from different guys. We’d worked almost exclusively with Brett Hestla our entire career. I love Brett, he’s just one of the guys. One of our closest friends and the main reason we were ever even discovered. But with that friendship comes comfort. And I wanted us to be out of our comfort zone a bit. Work with new guys whose technique was different for us; whose entire recording process was different and new to us. We needed that, as musicians. So it was really refreshing. And to me, when I listen to the album, I hear one cohesive album and not a collection of songs recorded with different producers.
How do you see ‘The Sum of Who We Are‘ when you stand it up against your previous albums; is this an album that is more dear to you; considering the journey you’ve had with it from conception to production?
Hands down, this album is the best thing we’ve ever done. Our goal as a band has always been to continue to evolve (or at least feel like it) with every album. My favorite bands are the bands that have longevity with their careers because they evolve from album to album. Foo Fighters, Incubus, Thrice…those bands don’t put the same album out over and over again. That’s our goal. The day we feel like we’re not getting better album to album, that will be the day we stop creating music.
Hailing from Nashville, do you feel that the strong country roots associated with your home city have any impact on how you write and the music you set out to produce?
Not at all, really. A lot of people don’t realize that the rock scene in Nashville kinda exploded all at once. Kings of Leon, Paramore, Red, Safetysuit & many more. I think 100% of the local rock bands still kicking around in local clubs and dives in Nashville, there are a handful that are better than a lot of national acts that I’ve seen over the years. The only thing that was tough about Nashville is the fact that everyone from your dry cleaner to your pizza guy is a musician…but a damn good one at that.
You’re currently out on tour, how have the new songs been going down with fans; is there a particular favorite that you’re enjoying playing live?
They’ve been responded great. Criminal kicks off our set, and it’s awesome to see the crowd singing along. I’d say my favorite to play live is Collide. I think that’s the best pure high energy rock song we’ve ever written, so it’s a lot of fun. We did Castaway in Nashville the night of our release show. In a room full of our friends and family, and FHamily that traveled literally from all over the world to our hometown. It was a special moment. I actually got pretty emotional onstage singing those lyrics in front of all of those people. That’s one moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Many thanks to Nixon for taking the time to chat to us. ‘The Sum Of Who We Are’ is out now: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-sum-of-who-we-are/id834752088