First, the name. Framing Hanley was originally called Embers Fade. They changed the moniker in 2006 to honor Ashley Hanley, the drummer’s girlfriend, who’d passed away. Ashley had been the band’s official photographer – she framed them.
An anthemic hard rock quintet from the unlikely environs of Nashville, Tennessee (not so unlikely, perhaps – Kings of Leon came from there), Framing Hanley specializes in those big, heavy post–grunge ballads and boomy guitar–heavy anthems in the manner of Creed, Incubus, Evanescence and 3 Doors Down.
In fact it was Creed bassist Brett Hestla who responded favorably to the band’s demos, got them a record deal and produced The Moment, the first Framing Hanley album, which produced a monster track in “Hear Me Now.”
Shortly after the album’s release, Framing Hanley cut a guitar–heavy cover of rapper Lil’ Wayne’s libidinous “Lollipop,” which became one of the most–downloaded songs of 2009.
Just out is The Promise and the Burn, the band’s post–“Lollipop” album, which lead singer Nixon (his first name is Kenneth, but he prefers not to use it) believes is an improvement – sonically and lyrically – over its predecessor.
Framing Hanley performs Monday, June 28 at Live Wire Music Hall.
How has the success you’ve had changed you as a songwriter?
Nixon: We’re living our dream, going out and playing our music for people, whether it be one person a night or 1,000 people. If there’s people 100 or 1,000 miles away from our hometown, and they know our songs, that means the world to me.
With this record, we were just writing about that experience. We’re just having the common sense to “live life to the fullest, while you can.”
On the album, you literally go from “The Promise” to “The Burn.” It sounds like maturity catching up to you – like a reality–slap in the face.
Nixon: Yeah, the past three years opened our eyes to a lot of things. That was exactly what it was, reality smacking you in the face: You can make it better than you imagined it could be, just using the hand you’re dealt. Because the reality is, we’ve got it better than a lot of people, being able to do what we love to do as a career. And it could be over tomorrow. Bands come and go nowadays in this industry; it’s very hard for new bands to stick around. We want to have a good time, and just let the people that are responsible for us being here know that we’re always thankful to them.
In the past, you’ve described yourself flippantly as a bunch of jerks having fun on the road, or something like that. Has that changed? Do you find yourself taking things more seriously now?
Nixon: I don’t know, I wouldn’t say that we take it any more serious now than we did before. We’re still a bunch of idiots. We just want to keep having a good time, and I think with this record the overall feeling is a lot more upbeat than the first one.
The best way to describe it it’s our band with no chains on it any more.
We all started playing music in garages with cheap amps. So now that you’re doing what you want to do, is it kind of what you thought it would be?
Nixon: The hardest part is definitely being on the road. That’s my favorite part, being on tour and getting to meet new people every night.
But the reality is, when you’re on tour people get sick at home. People grow older. It’s not like things just pause back home for you. That’s the hardest part to get used to – for a band to survive nowadays, you have to be on the road 10 months out of the year. So you’re always gone.
The work never ends. I think the perception is that anybody that’s got a song on the radio, or a music video, is doing awesome. I get asked every night if somebody can have my hat, and I’m like “If I gave you this hat, I wouldn’t have a hat any more. This is my only hat.”
And we’re never going to complain about downloading. Because if people are spending their time in an effort to find our music to download it, even if it’s illegal or whatever, they’re a fan of our music, so so be it.
Do you ever think “Lollipop” will become an albatross around your neck? When you’re 50, you’re going to be doing that damn song every night.
Nixon: It’s definitely a double–edged sword. There’s no denying what it did for our band. At that point, we didn’t know what was going on with our first record, and they asked us to record it, and it saved us as a band. It put us right back out on the road, and before that no one really knew who we were. So I’m never going to be ungrateful for that.
The reality is, do you think Marilyn Manson doesn’t go out and play “Sweet Dreams” every night? That was his first huge single, but how many Manson songs has he had since then that were huge?
I’m not comparing us to him, because that guy’s alone in his own category of performance. The guy’s amazing.
But the reality is, that was his breakthrough song. Or “Faith” by Limp Bizkit. There’s a handful of songs that, to this day those bands have to perform.
When we were writing The Promise and The Burn, the whole time in the back of my head I was, like, I want people to hear this record and be like “Really? That’s the band that did ‘Lollipop’?”
I want them to remember our stuff before they remember that we covered “Lollipop.” The reality is, there’s probably thousands of strip clubs around this country where dancers are dancing to our version of “Lollipop,” and you could walk in there and not one of them would know who we are.
With the Veer Union, Against the Wall, Transmit
Where: Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St.
When: At 8 p.m. Monday, June 28
Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show
Artist’s website: framinghanley.net