The Scorching Sounds of Framing Hanley

Whether it was a fluke or not, their cover of Lollipop by Lil Wayne became a big hit and somewhat of a millstone for the guys of the Nashville based rock band Framing Hanley. Added as a bonus track to the re-release of their debut album The Moment, the band wound up touring for another year when they had initially planned to record their second album. Good things come to those who wait, and A Promise To Burn is a sizzling collection of impassioned tunes that many will be able to relate with. Potential hits such as You Stupid Girl and Back To Go Again are sure to be original confections that fans will enjoy. Here is a recent interview we conducted with Framing Hanley lead vocalist Kenneth Nixon to discuss their song about candy, the new album, and other scorching subjects of interest…

Before we talk about the new record, what was the best and worst part about recording Lollipop, which so far has been your most well known song?
The best thing about it was during that time period, we were kind of in limbo. We didn’t know what was going on with our band. There was kind of an uncertainty with what would happen to us with the label. We didn’t know if we were going to get the chance to do another record. And while we were in the studio actually cutting demos for a second record, they asked us to do that version of Lollipop that they had heard us play at a show before. And it put us out on the road again – we toured for a year and a half straight. I think last year we toured almost 250 days out of the year. It definitely got us working and out on the road and a chance for people to come out and see us – so that was awesome. But obviously the hard thing about that, and I guess the thing that makes it the double-edged sword is the fact that it isn’t an original song. And I think with this record, I hope in my opinion that we prove that we’re a lot more than a band that covered a rap song. We wanted to leave that behind us with this record, and I feel that we’ve done that.

Has Lil Wayne heard your cover of the song?
I’m not sure. His band told me he has. We hung out with his band that plays with him live at all of his shows. They all love the song and their music director said that he had heard it, but we’ve never heard from Lil Wayne himself.

Let’s talk about the new record A Promise To Burn. It seems like a concept album – the type that needs to be heard all the way through. What is the concept behind the album?
You know, it definitely has a story in there. I think more than anything, the theme that comes across that I kind of portray throughout the record is something that everyone can identify with. And that’s the fact that a lot of times we let all great stuff that’s right in front of our eyes be tarnished by the minuet, small things that really don’t matter can really start to add up. For us I think as a band, we were letting a lot of the business stuff – just a lot of things that we didn’t agree go on in our career ruin what had been our dreams our entire lives. I realize that I’m very fortunate to be able to do what is true in my passion to call it a career. And it had just reached the point where there were some days where I was like, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way about what we’re doing. We’re very lucky!” It was just about clearing your head – taking a few steps backwards to just look at everything and realize just how fortunate we are. Bret Michaels said it best – “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” We just didn’t want to reach that point. I think that’s the theme that I wrote about throughout that record.

Do you relate to the guy you’re singing about in The Promise and The Burn, and tell me about this particular guy?
Yeah. I mean, The Promise was the first song this lineup ever wrote. That was before we ever thought about doing Lollipop. That song, for me – I was watching Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind – which is my very favorite movie – and there’s a part in that movie where he looks at his girlfriend and he tells her, “For the first time in my life, I’m exactly where I want to be.” That was really when we started to see things as, “Yeah, that’s true! I am where I want to be. I’ve got a lot of things going for me right now. I have a girl that I was very lucky to call my girlfriend that I cared a lot about that would stay there and support me. And going out and trying to accomplish my goals and attain my dreams. I think the story about that song is just keeping your head straight and knowing what your priorities in your life are and who it is that’s important in your life. And as far as The Burn, I think that kind of brings everything full spectrum so to speak. That song, being the last song on the record, is kind of like coming again to terms with that fact that this is what we make it. I think that can be said the same with life and not just comparing it to this music industry. I mean, life is what you make it and that’s what I think comes across on this record as a whole.

I’m just going to ask about one more song, because people just need to hear the record for themselves. What is the story behind the single You Stupid Girl?
Someone in our band – I don’t want to name any names – had a girlfriend that was just one of those girls that would constantly bring you down no matter what. It just seemed like they always knew how to say the wrong things. It’s about really just having the courage to be able to walk away from that and know that it’s something that’s not good for you. A lot of times, love can be blind – so that’s about really opening up your eyes and seeing through that. Living your life for yourself, and not for some “Stupid Girl.”

Now the video for that song – I have not seen the whole thing, but it looks like you’re acting away in it. So how close is your film career to coming into full swing?
(Laughs) I think you may have seen enough of our video to know that I won’t be doing acting anytime soon. I mean, it’s fun to do stuff like that. Mason Dixon, who does all of our videos and who is a very good friend of ours – we usually sit down and hash out ideas and concepts for videos. When he came up with this video – it was something different and we were excited about it. It definitely gave us a chance to do something different and I think a lot of people – when they see that video – they’re not going to expect what happens in that video from what they saw in the preview. It’s fun more than anything. We like to have fun, especially in our videos. Lollipop was a video with just us and our friends hanging out and partying for two or three days. It’s cool that we get to work with somebody that we’re so close with. And with Mason being one of our best friends – it’s always going to be a good time when we do our videos. It is funny that you asked that though, because whenever my girlfriend gives me crap about my acting, I always bring up the fact that actually before music I was in drama and musical theater and stuff like that in school. But I guess my skills and my acting aren’t the greatest. (Much laughter)

What plays did you do in school?
We did Les Miz – I was actually Master Of The House in that. We did a bunch of plays like The Elves and The Shoemaker. Nothing spectacular or award winning performances – that’s for sure.

Were you nervous at all about encountering that famous sophomore slump when recording A Promise To Burn?
No, I think, especially the fact that we had three years between records. We had just all grown tremendously – and I know that’s such a cliché thing to say but hell – I was 21 years old when we did our first record. And the past three years have been this constantly on the road. And I think Luke put it best when he said, “It was kind of like musician boot camp.” We got our asses handed to us on a lot of those tours and we learned how to be a better band and a better live band. That three years on the road on a bus – you have nothing to do but sit around with an acoustic and jam out ideas. So we had a lot more time to come up with these ideas. But as I say that, on that same note, two of my favorite songs on the record were two of the last songs we wrote over the last couple of weeks we were in the studio – Photographs & Gasoline and Warzone. I was very, very, very excited to do a new CD, because I feel that this CD is a bit of a departure from The Moment, but I think this is a better representation of who our band is. This IS Framing Hanley. I mean hell; I’d be lying to say I’m not even more excited for a third record.

Are there any shows planned for the Los Angeles area, and should Hollywood worry if you wind up playing here? (Editor’s Note: “Let’s burn Hollywood to the ground” – lyrics from The Burn)
(Laughs) No, Hollywood will be all right. I think we are planning on coming out there between early to mid-August. That’s when the tentative routing is to coming out there. I’m looking forward to coming out to Los Angeles. Actually my fiancée is from Los Angeles so I love that city – more so than some of the guys in the band. It’s always a good time coming out there on the West Coast period. It’s definitely a different world for Nashville, Tennessee boys, so we’re looking forward to getting back out there.

Do you still keep in touch with your ex-guitarist Tim – and whatever happened to him?
I don’t know. Actually none of us do speak to him. Last I heard, he was in Colorado trying to invent to wheel I think.

Do you still like playing the song from The Moment at this point?
You know it’s funny, because we’ve had one record for the past three years to play on tour. And it’s like when we were getting ready to play again, we now have two records – and to put together a set list – like “I wanna play this song and this song and this song and this song” – all off of our new record. And then it was like, “Whoa! We gotta put a few of the old songs in.” So we threw in what we thought were the stronger songs from the first record that we thought blended in with the songs from this record. It’s a breath of fresh air when you have new material to go out to play. And it’s always, always an awesome feeling when you see people singing along with you. And I think it’s going to be more awesome now that we have these brand new songs.

Do you have any messages out here for Framing Hanley fans in the Los Angeles area?
Come out and see us when we come out there. We never had the hugest crowd in LA whenever we come out there – and that may be one of the reasons why we don’t get to come out that often. It’s kind of hard to drive all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast when the shows aren’t huge shows or anything. So I mean, just come out. We’re going to be there in August, and we’d love to see all of your faces there. We’d love to be coming to LA a lot more, so please come out to the shows.

(Interview and Extreme Thing by Kenneth Morton – Studio Photo by Mark Anthony Jeffries)

Framing Hanley on Myspace

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