‘LIFE IS PEACHY’ AND OTHER FELINE LESSONS
A CONVERSATION WITH JON FRATELLI
You might say it started with a cat or two.
‘The human attitude towards animals is completely ridiculous.’ Jon Fratelli laments through the phone. ‘We completely overlook the fact that they can teach us how to live.’ In the case of Fratelli, this has meant learning not to take life too seriously, and the sentiment has basically been the basis for the Fratellis upcoming album, In Your Own Sweet Time (out March 16, 2018).
This album serves as a reminder to Jon himself, but also to anyone who’d like to relax a little. While it wasn’t exactly inspired by his two cats, it’s obvious as he describes them that they’ve taught him a great deal. If you look hard enough, it’s all on the album: lessons in affection and being satisfied with yourself, all on a backdrop of pop-rock goodness.
In Your Own Sweet Time was written by Jon almost completely on computer software. A change from his old writing style, which was usually a thing of lyrics-first pen to paper typewriting, this album is glitzier and one helluva hip-shaker. It’s the product of Jon simply wanting to entertain himself as he took on yet another solo-writing venture before bringing it to his band. ‘I’ve never had the itch to write with other people,’ he says when prompted about why that is. Clearly, he’s not short of material, as he tells us the band already has half of the next album ready to go.
Yet he’s not the brooding musician you’d expect when describing someone who writes music alone in a locked room. His music isn’t even written to vent — “I don’t have anything to vent about. Life is peachy,’ he says without a drop of sarcasm.
That doesn’t mean he goes it all alone. Along with the rest of the band, the Fratellis have worked extensively with music producer Tony Hoffer (producer for Beck, Depeche Mode, The Kooks, and more) on several albums including the new one. Their relationship has changed too. ‘I used to think I wanted to do everything, but now I don’t,’ Jon says, mentioning that he used to be a bit more difficult to work with. The relationship with Hoffer has served the band well though. ‘He’s everything that we’re not.’
Written in a musical desert, In Your Own Sweet Time was created at a time when Fratelli really wasn’t listening to much music at all. It’s a common theme for him. He doesn’t listen to music for a long, long time, then goes on absolute benders where he’s completely obsessed with music- flipping from song to song (lately it’s been all about the ’80s pop). ‘When you don’t listen to it and then go through explosions, it’s utterly joyous. It’s like I’m hearing the most perfect thing I’ve ever heard and experiencing the most perfect thing I could ever experience.’
Why do that? For starters, Jon Fratelli has strong opinions about the abuse of music. He believes people listen to way too much music, that it’s excessive and distracting. While listening to him describe the way his hotel is currently playing three different songs from his room to the lobby, or how every cab he gets in is playing music, you can’t help but agree with the insistence that music is being diluted in the modern world.
So may we recommend, come March 16, when In Your Own Sweet Time is released, you find a quiet room and just enjoy the album start to finish? It’s a work of complete art you won’t soon forget. To think, it all started with a cat or two.