An Interview With British Singer-Songwriter, FRANK HAMILTON!
“Aliens” is the first featured single from British songwriter Frank Hamilton’s One Song A Week II project. Recorded in his living room and featuring an army of fans on backing vocals (who stand to make a few pennies each from the PPL royalties), the track is a wry slice of satirical indie-pop that serves as the perfect re-introduction to Hamilton’s acerbic wit and the bitter twist that runs within his unabashed pop sensibility.
While Frank is perhaps best known for an introspectivity that shines the light of scrutiny on his own insecurities and indiscretions, “Aliens” boldly extends that scope to take on world leaders and the dizzying state of current affairs.
Check out the video here-
“Aliens fell out of my brain late one evening after watching too much news”, Frank explains. “At first I thought it was just a silly song that would never leave my head – it happens every now and then – but something about it kept bugging me, and after another evening spent watching countless Youtube interviews about the death of comedic satire, that something clicked”.
Frank goes on, “I definitely wasn’t trying to write a political comeback single – it just happened – but I don’t know a single person who isn’t a little bit disillusioned with the state of the world right now. Part of me thinks ‘why not, let’s have some fun with it’ and the other part of me feels almost obligated to get it out there at a time when it might provide a much-needed smile or two”.
Frank Hamilton first made waves in 2012 when he pioneered the rapid-release strategy with #OneSongaWeek – a year-long project that garnered attention from The Independent, Huff Post and BBC Radio 1, featured countless backing vocals from Oh Wonder’s Josephine and led to songwriting collaborations with Ed Sheeran, Newton Faulkner and British soccer legend Dion Dublin amongst others. Since then, Frank released the critically acclaimed Songs to Make Life Slightly Less Awkward LP (2016), played countless sold-out shows, and recently hit the road with childhood heroes, Wheatus, on a 7-week European tour.
Learn more about Frank Hamilton in the following All Access interview-
Thank you for your time! So what does a typical day look like for you lately?
Thanks for having me! …and good question, I have no idea!? It’s Monday today so let’s look at the weekend just gone… On Saturday I was up at 8am finishing week 28, then I took an hour for lunch before starting and finishing another song, and then I skipped dinner to mix a third before going to bed around 4am. Then on Sunday I went for a lazy (sleepy) walk and did some writing in the morning, came home around 2 and had my first afternoon off in about a month… before switching my brain back on for a lifestream at 8pm. Things are especially busy at the moment to be fair, I’ll have a few days off over Christmas but that’s about it.
Now that the year is about over, how has 2019 treated you? What are some goals that you have had for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them or did you already? What are you already looking forward to in 2020?
I only really had one goal for this year – to start making and enjoying music again (after taking some time away on account of the fact I really wasn’t enjoying it). The plan was to start slowly and take my time but that didn’t last long – the first things I announced were a 7-week European tour with Wheatus and the return of One Song a Week!
As for 2020, who knows. I guess the main goal remains the same (to keep enjoying it) but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about an album and stuff.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Okay so the first half of this is easy – the band was Blink 182, the song was called ‘Wasting Time’ and her name was Sarah. The second part is double-edged – I mean of course the choice to decide I wanted to write songs for the rest of my life was an easy one to make…. but trying to make that pipe dream a reality is a whole other kettle of fish.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
This is a thought that occurs daily. Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s most musicians, or maybe it’s just most human beings in general, regardless of career choice – I have no idea. For me it’s not even about success or failure, it’s simply the short amount of time we get to spend on this planet and the wealth of possibilities that exist before us. What’s it like to be a lawyer? A teacher? A doctor? To start an online business selling frisbees? I have no idea and I probably never will, but for some reason the grass always feels greener on the other side.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
I’m going to indulge myself here, forgive me. The biggest surprise is how uninventive most people are. The same people who talk about finding a USP are the same ones who freak out when you suggest doing something different – it’s mind numbing. The biggest challenge? Having to convince people I’m not crazy. The best part? When Kanye West tweeted about wanting to do 52 songs in 52 weeks – he probably has no idea I exist or that it’s already happened – but it made me smile.
Let’s talk about your newest music. What has been inspiring you these days?
Life, mostly – the ups, the downs, the twists, the turns. Humans, too – fascinating creatures.
Can you elaborate on your “One Song A Week” project? Where did the idea for this collection of songs come from?
I feel like One Song a Week II pretty much says what it is – I’m releasing a song every week and this is the 2nd time I’ve done it! And without wanting to bat away the second part of that question, this isn’t about releasing a perfectly thought of collection of songs – this is about writing, recording a releasing a song every week. I couldn’t tell you what will happen next week, let alone next month, only that if they all sounded the same I’d get really bored…
How would you say that your newest music compares to anything else that you have released in the past?
I find these questions really hard, so maybe I’ll just describe all my records and you can decide? You, Your Cat & Me was a youthful EP about getting drunk with your mates, #OneSongaWeek (the first time) was a messy collection of demos, Songs To Make Life Slightly Less Awkward was an existential indie-pop album, and One Song a Week II is only just getting started but basically involves me throwing some ideas around until I decide what I want my next album to sound like.
Do you have any end of year tour dates scheduled?
Yep – I’ll be taking the Christmas show on the road again – the Crikey, It’s Christmas Tour. I’ve done an annual christmas show for the last decade or so, which started in my living room with about 20 people, but has grown somewhat. This year it’s in a bunch of small theatres – Glasgow, Brighton, London, Bristol, Manchester & Birmingham.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music? What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
Oh I don’t know. I guess I’ve learned how to play piano and my production’s got better? I try not to think about these things too much – I’m just a bloke who writes songs about the way he thinks and feels – which is also the answer to part 2 of your question – that’ll never change.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career?
I think it’s simultaneously the best and worst thing in the world – what else can I say? Personally speaking, it’s given me hope, opportunity and allowed me to forge a career that I probably had no right to forge… but it’s also been a major contributing factor in why I was hating life and had to take such a long time off.
What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Elvis Costello would be my number 1. The songs, the ideas, the production – I’m a big fan.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
Oh I don’t know. The smart, stock answer is probably the Super Bowl or something but honestly? I prefer the random ones – like the GCSE English teacher who emailed to say the entire class had listened to ‘What If’ and written poems based on the concept. One of them even went home and wrong a song. That stuff makes all the crap seem worthwhile 🙂
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
Whatever they want – that’s the beauty of this music thing. But if you’re wanting something a little less vague, maybe listen to Week 1 of One Song a Week II and remember that it’s not worth beating yourself up? Took me years to figure that one out.