Title: Frankie part two
Source: No. 1
Publish date: 25 October 1986
FRANKIE PART TWO
In the second part of our Frankie story Holly Johnson gives No. 1 readers a bloW by blow account of the new album ‘Liverpool’ - or ‘From The Diamond Mine To The Factory’ as he prefers to call it, while Paul Rutherford buries Mickey Mouse, anD explains the significance of Mersey Jerseys. Words: Max Bell. Pics: Neil Matthews.
Warriors Of The Wasteland
‘Warriors’ is about the way I’ve always seen Frankie, a band that came out of Liverpool’s creative hotbed and were absorbed onto the business conveyor belt. To survive in our society you have to lift yourself out of a working class situation. You have to develop aggression.
Warriors implies fighting tribal heroes. It is political in that it shows up the divide between those who have and those who have not. Society is designed to keep that division as wide as possible.
Rich people and corporate businesses have got it worked out so they launder money and avoid tax while the education system keep a type of ignorance going. I believe in the conspiracy theory, the well to do pay for a better education and always keep control.
Maybe it’s too late to change that. People are addicted to the drugs they want you to have. We’re all brainwashed by TV and advertising. I am. I buy Sony because I love the packaging. Any teenage socialist understands this, everyone knows that the aristocracy are the biggest gangsters, the ones that grabbed the land. The idea of the song is that to transcend that you have to sail a boat of ice on a desert which is impossible.
Everyone’s got the Dylan Thomas connotation from the song but I think England missed out on ‘Rage Hard’ a bit. I didn’t mind the commercial aspect but it was meant to be encouraging to people and it didn’t work. It’s a song that is anti-depression and lethargy. It wants you to rage against the recession. Maybe it was too subtle. One thing with this album is I was more concerned with pleasing myself than pleasing the public.
Kill The Pain
This was originally called ‘All Climb Up To Heaven’. It was about a scenario where God suddenly appeared on every airwave and every TV from teletexts to porn peep shows and gave us a guided tour of Heaven. I changed it from Disneyland afterlife to a more general Heaven.
This is almost religious in intention. It’s like one of those movies where the clouds suddenly part, a beam of sunlight hits you and all the voices go ‘aaaaaaa…’
Watching The Wildlife
Written in a personal state of mind. I was in ultra-observor mode, looking around me at all the people who were tearing themselves up by hating me. I used the word wildlife for humanity. You know that feeling you get when you look at everyone on the tube?
A nonsense song. It’s just let’s all have some fun. My favourite line is ‘The train of faces going places - get on board.’ It’s a hey, spaced out song rather than a deep and meaningful one. It’s a groove song.
For Heaven’s Sake
My favourite song on the album. This is about the tight-arsed recessionary attitude of Britain and particularly the atmosphere created by Margaret Thatcher’s government. The song implies you should go out and buy yourself a new dress, borrow the money, it’s no use getting depressed. There is a decadence amongst young people in Britain but there’s far more of a grey cloud hanging over us. People say, ‘oh it’s alright you saying that, you’re a millionaire pop star’, but I’m a human being, too. I’m not a millionaire and don’t know any. I think Margaret Thatcher should buy everyone a drink.
Is Anybody Out There?
I couldn’t expose myself enough to say exactly what this is about because it’s so personal. Essentially it’s about casting aside selfishness. It’s that rare moment in life when you feel more for someone else than for yourself. It’s about injustice. I know it’s a depressing subject and I didn’t want to depress anybody but that’s where me head was at.
In a way this album is more interesting than commercial. I wanted a touch of that David Bowie ‘Lodger’ feel, which might not be a good idea because that’s his worst selling record!
I’ll always call it ‘From The Diamond Mine To The Factory’, for me the title ‘Liverpool’ is just incidental, it’s marketing. The only way I can condone calling it ‘Liverpool’ is to say that the place is indelibly stamped on our personality. It certainly isn’t that ‘alright wack?’ type of thing because I’m not a professional Liverpudlian. If it’s seen as a tribute to the city then cool but I think they liked it because they could go ‘ooh yes they’ll love the title in Japan and America’ which I think is sick.
It can be used creatively as a good graphic image which is more refreshing. The music business is an awful thing but I’ve chosen to lie down in it. I hope we’ve regained a little dignity with this album. We’ve certainly not lost anything except a few years. We’ve gained a lot of experience. I hope people see that in the album.
Wind Of Change
We’re all feeling that this is a more mature Frankie record. Before we were in a trite mood. Perhaps we’ve grown up, which doesn’t sound like Frankie, does it? We got tired of playing silly buggers, you can’t be happy all the time. Sometimes I’m just not bothered.
I see ‘Liverpool’ as a nice wind of change. It benefitted from us having time to ourselves again, just before we got in too deep. We weren’t fed up with the hits but we were just starting to cope and then you let yourself be shunted around automatically. I did feel like a bit of baggage, but a nice piece of baggage - Hermes.
Welcome To The Pressuredome
I was disappointed we didn’t get to Number One with ‘Rage Hard’ because on pre-sales we’d been told it was going to the top. I think the fans were upset as well. I balance that concern with not wanting us to become a girly bond, one that’s all about screaming. Those type of groups have a short life span.
We could have made ‘Pleasuredome Part 2’ but that would have been naff. This album feels good, and it looks good. The packaging is better, whereas our first album was more Mickey Mouse. This one is sort of Mersey coloured. Maybe we should market Mersey coloured jerseys. The merchandising should be quite tasteful, that ‘Frankie Say’ phase is over. It started out as an accident and suddenly every man and his dog had one of those flipping t-shirts.
Hurt by Hype
Perhaps people thought we stunk of hype last time around but we were aware of what our critics thought. People like scoring points and they’ll always harangue us - the Wellers of the world. All I can say is this record feels more honest and less like a party.
I still know the band was sold on the way the lads conducted themselves and the way me and Holly held ourselves and all the slag offs can’t alter that fact. I don’t give a toss anyway. If David Bowie had been rude about us that would have hurt far more.
I think we filled a hole and we’ll do it again. It matters to me that the record could be a classic for 1986, something done with style because there isn’t much around. Sigue Sigue Sputnik tried it - they looked great but the product fell a bit short.
People in bands get accused of all sorts because people don’t believe they exist in the real world. That’s happened to us to an extent and it’s happened to Duran Duran. People won’t believe that underneath they’re just really sweet guys, quite normal people.
We’ve all learnt that it’s important not to take yourself too seriously. We know now how to conserve energy, do the right things, work out your day, get on with it. We also try not to take each other for granted. We’re all still friends and still working at that relationship.
Self-satisfaction is the most important thing of all - it matters far more than the cash. I enjoy the money for what it buys me but if all this was taken away tomorrow I’d still find plenty of ways to enjoy meself.