Storytellers: The Frames

Two years ago at SXSW, we stumbled across an Irish band called The Frames. They were playing to a tough crowd: industry folks and goods hawkers at the afternoon trade show. Despite our hurry to see everything and get back out to the sunshine, we found ourselves pulling up cafeteria chairs and staying a while. With their manic exuberance, heartbreakingly beautiful violin, effusive frontman, and whisper-quiet recesses, we were captivated.

Apparently, we were not alone. The band’s showcase that year got them signed to Anti (they had brought themselves to the States on their own moxie and a self-released fourth album, For the Birds). Following last year’s stunning live LP, Set List, The Frames are back with the slow-building but equally vibrant Burn the Maps and a return trip to Austin.

The Frames are one of Ireland’s hottest bands, topping the charts and selling out venues. In Ireland, for instance, Damien Rice opens for them; here in the States last year, they supported Rice. Says guitarist Rob Bochnik, “In Ireland, the audience is right there with us the whole time, singing along. When we go to Europe [or the States], it’s not a struggle, but we’re trying to win the crowd over; it’s not as easy. But…you get people in the audience willing to sing along and be a part of the show, and it infects the rest of the audience.”

Not content to simply rest on their home country success, The Frames are determined to tour, to see the world and win over fans, one concert hall at a time. “The band has always scraped together money to do tours in the States. Since we do quite well in Ireland, that [allows] us to go to the States and tour. Traveling is a great thing; you get to see a lot of the world and play music.”

Part of the appeal of The Frames, undoubtedly, is manic storytelling singer/guitarist/frontman Glen Hansard. Says Bochnik, “Glen’s got a gift at feeling out an audience. He knows how to navigate his way through. If people are up for it, he’ll chat away, but there are some shows where people are not in the mood for a story. He can spot that right away. He’s bent on being victorious every night, and we’re right there to back him up.”

Bochnik admits the band has no expectations for this year’s visit to Austin. “I think we’re just looking to do better in the States; in general, we’re hoping the record will do good things for us because this is our first actual worldwide release of a record. [It’s a] big deal! It’s going really well in Europe and I think it’ll go well for us in the States—knock on wood, you know?”

As for bands to watch, he looks to his label’s distinguished roster. “We’re part of the Anti showcase” at SXSW, he says. “I’d love to play with anyone that’s on the label. I know you probably wouldn’t see Nick Cave or Tom Waits playing there…” But a guy can dream, can’t he? Bochnik agrees: “It’d be amazing to play with anyone of that caliber.”

Much as it is for any band lucky enough to share the stage with The Frames.

Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PlaybackSTL.

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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