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Liam Frost - The IndieLondon interview

Liam Frost

Interview by Rob Carnevale

LIAM Frost talks exclusvely to IndieLondon about some of the inspirations behind his sophomore album We Ain’t Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain and what it was like overcoming the departure from his original label.

He also talks about dueting with Martha Wainwright, working with Ed Harcourt and which songs he’s listening to right now and which he might like to cover.

Q. Hi Liam, everyone in music talks of ‘difficult second album syndrome’ and yet you seem to have beaten that trap with ease. How was recording We ‘Aint Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain?
Liam Frost: Recording was an awful lot of fun. It isn’t that often that somebody pays for you to spend two months in New York recording an album… I felt very lucky indeed. I got to take my band over with me, and we had a really good time. After all of the happenings at my old label, I recorded some songs over here with some friends in Manchester. That was really ace as well, I remember at that point feeling like I was really the only person that could control what would happen next. The album only felt finished after the sessions over here.

Q. You mention that you wanted to do an upbeat record before you were 30 and this is it! Why the ambiguous title (which we like, by the way)?
Liam Frost: The title is taken from a poem of the same name by Charles Bukowski; one of my favourite writers. Despite the upbeat tone of a lot of the songs on this album, the large percentage of the lyrics have some slightly darker undertones, or at least that’s how I intended them to appear. I’d been through a few tricky spots and around the time I was looking for an album title, a lot of the things that were said in this poem resonated with me.

Q. What was it like dueting with Martha Wainwright on Your Hand In Mine?
Liam Frost: It was incredible. I’ve been a fan of Martha for a while, always really loved her voice. When Victor (Van Vugt, the album’s producer) suggested that we get her in to duet on the song, I didn’t really think it would be possible. We got her the rough mixes of the album up to that point, and she was really into it. I remember listening back to the mixes after she’d recorded her parts, thinking how amazing it was to here that voice coming back at me, harmonising with mine.

Q. And how was working with Ed Harcourt? What made you decide to team up with him for a couple of songs?
Liam Frost: Working with Ed was a lot of fun. At the time, my old label were trying my out with a few co-writers, trying to get some kind of hit record out of me… a lot of them didn’t really work out for me, and at that point I started suggesting a few people. I don’t play a bit of piano, and aside from being a really great songwriter, Ed is an astonishing pianist. I made the suggestion to work with him, and within a couple of days we’d sorted something out and written a lot of songs together.

Q. How much did you learn about yourself during the period of time in between the first and second albums?
Liam Frost: A whole bunch I guess. Right now, I really feel like I’ve grown up. Looking back at when I signed my first record deal, and going into recording my first album, I really was pretty naive. Although at 21 or 22, you couldn’t be anything but naive, I suppose. In the process of leaving Columbia, I really figured out what I wanted to do, and that was to go with my gut instinct and stick to writing what I wanted to write. If the ‘hit’ wasn’t going to come from me, then I wasn’t going to try and force it in some co-writing scenario. That in itself might sound naive, as that idea has made some people a bunch of money, but I still don’t feel like I’ve written an album that I can truly call my own.

Q. How are you coping with success?
Liam Frost: Erm…guess it depends on what you’d define as success! I’m coping just fine though, I suppose.

Q. And how important is it to remain true to your own principals, rather than writing the crowd-pleasing, repetitive three-minute pop song that seems to be expected from the major labels? You’re very like Ricky Gervais in that way… he told me the other day that he steadfastly refuses to play to the crowd, but writes to please himself [and Stephen Merchant] first and foremost.
Liam Frost: I steadfastly refused to release some of the songs that were written in the run up to this album, and it pretty much got me dropped from a major label…ha! Like I said, I’d think I’d rather fail while doing something that I want to do than trying to force something and it just seeming really false.

Q. Can you tell us what inspired a great song like Shipwrecks, which contains some terrific lyrics (especially ‘when you lay with dogs, then you’ll wake with fleas’)?
Liam Frost: You know what, I can’t really remember! But I do remember hearing ‘When you lay with dogs, then you’ll wake with fleas’ on Jerry Springer or Ricki Lake or something like that, whilst channel hopping. Seriously!

Liam Frost

Q. And likewise Two Hearts?
Liam Frost: Two Hearts was written immediately after I left the old label. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, I was pretty broke at a point when all of that recession stuff started… everyone was shitting themselves. I guess the song kind of came out of that.

Q. What can we expect from the forthcoming tour?
Liam Frost: Seeing as it’s largely a solo acoustic tour, then I guess there won’t be so many upbeat numbers! Ha!

Q. What are some of your favourite live memories?
Liam Frost: I’ve really enjoyed a lot of Manchester shows, you know, where I’ve played big rooms to a lot of people and stuff. I like those ones where there isn’t a bunch of people though, where you make it work in whatever way you can. When those shows work out, then I really feel like I’ve achieved something.

Q. Who inspires you musically? And who else would you love to collaborate with? And perhaps duet with in the future?
Liam Frost: I really love the lyrical aspect of writing, and it’s something that I try to spend a lot of time on… whether people perceive them to be good or not! There’s all kinds of people that I’d love to collaborate or duet with, but right now I’m really concentrating on making as good a third album I can.

Q. What advice would you give emerging artists starting out today?
Liam Frost: Stick to what you believe in, don’t let somebody else shape what they think you should sound like. Integrity is of the utmost importance! Does that sound awful?

Q. Looking ahead to the summer, will you be appearing at any of this summer’s festivals?
Liam Frost: There’s a few things I’ll be doing… wherever will have me I guess.

Q. If you could cover any song, what would it be and why?
Liam Frost: Into My Arms by Nick Cave maybe… don’t think I could ever do it justice though. It’s just one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard, really moving, brilliant lyrics. What’s not to love?

Q. Finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod player at the moment?
Liam Frost: Not sure about singular songs. But I’ve been going back to the Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes albums a lot. Love My Morning Jacket, and the Monsters of Folk album that Jim James was involved in. Little else I guess… I should probably try to find some newer things to listen to!

Read our review of Liam Frost’s album

Liam’s new single, Good Things Are Coming Our Way is released on Monday, May 3, 2010.

  1. Another great IndieLondon interview! Thanks guys… and Liam, stay true!

    Jessie    May 4    #