Eleven years on from the release of debut album Costello Music… ten years on from winning the Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough Act… Seven years on from Costello Music finally exiting the Top 100 after 83 weeks in the charts… Nine years on from recording second album Here We Stand in their own freshly-purchased Glasgow studio… Five years on from returning after a break, and then releasing their third album We Need Medicine… two years since their latest album Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied and Zero years on from the last time ‘Chelsea Dagger’ was lustily sung by the crowd at a sports event somewhere in the world (as global event-sized anthems go, only The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ rivals the ongoing ubiquity of the The Fratellis’ deathless 2006 Top Ten single)… after all that, the trio spent the majority of the past few years gigging internationally. The momentum, again, still, was with Jon (vocals/guitar/piano), Barry (bass) and Mince Fratelli (drums).
Reflecting on one of their most recent world tours. “In a way it was that same merry-go-round we’d done before,” adds this laidback man who, for all his songwriting and frontman skills, cheerfully admits that his self-promoting skills are so lacking he “couldn’t sell a black cat to a witch”. Luckily the infectious magic of the songs on a four-album-deep back catalogue do the PR heavy lifting for him.
Still, even Jon’s default self-effacement allows that, “it was nicely surprising and kinda fortunate that we were able to go and play – and play for so long. Which is pretty good going.” That’s some understatement. There aren’t many bands who, over a decade into their recording career, can sustain a self-made profile that manages to be both “cult” and “commercially vibrant”. And Jon admits that, in recent years, he learnt to value that fact anew. “It was probably the first time that I really appreciated being able to tour like that.”
Such was the speed of the band’s breakthrough, “we were able to do that really quickly when we first started. We thought it was normal that you’d instantly have an audience – I guess because we had nothing else to compare it to. We assumed you could play constantly; so much that you actually wanted a break from it,” admits the leader of a band whose formidable live reputation was captured in the concert DVD Edgy In Brixton and the American tour documentary The Year Of The Thief. “It’s the easiest and the best thing in the world to go and play your guitar for people. So we got a few years – and if we’re lucky, we’ll get many more.”