Humanity Hallows Issue 5 Out Now
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By Jacqueline Grima
Maybe Frank are a British American duo consisting of Josh Wood and Sam Winterbottom. Originally playing open mics around Manchester, they have since gone on to host successful tours both in the UK and the USA, all in under two years. The band have recently reached No.6 in the Itunes singer/songwriter charts with their debut EP, had their first single selected for airplay at the Texas SXSW Festival, won a national battle of the bands competition, and are currently in the studio recording EP number two due to an extremely successful pledge music campaign.
Humanity Hallows recently caught up with Sam to ask about crowdfunding, success across the pond and playing with Johnny Cash’s nephew.
Tell us about the band. How and when did you get together?
Josh and I met each other quite a while back, I think about 14 years ago, when we were both pretty hyperactive kids (still are!). Separately our parents decided to help us channel our excessive energy into a hobby, which was actually a weekend acting class. We carried on doing that for a few years and we both kind of lost interest in the subject but simultaneously fell in love with music. I remember Josh showing me the then fresh faced Newton Faulkner, and he pretty much made the both of us pick up the guitar.
I think the idea for Maybe Frank came about three years ago, from the fact that we’d already performed together as part of ‘Silhouette’ (a four-piece covers band), but both wanted to write our own music. We both have a love for anything old school, from Roots/Americana, to Folk and Blues. We draw a lot of inspiration from those older artists, such as Crosby Stills & Nash, and The Eagles. Their ability to use harmonies to either amplify a certain moment of a song or create tension is impeccable. On any given day you could walk into either Josh’s house or mine and find us listening to musicians of that elk.
As we’d already known each other for a fair amount of time, it was just natural that we gravitated towards writing together. We had both tried our hand at writing separately for a while, but it was only when we got together to co-write that things really clicked. Plus, I think the idea of doing it totally solo is a petrifying thought!
You started out playing the Manchester club scene but have progressed in the music industry very quickly with your debut EP reaching No 6 in the iTunes singer/songwriter chart. How have your lives and careers changed in the past couple of years?
I don’t know if we feel like we’ve progressed majorly in the music industry, I think it feels like we’re still on the ground floor. But maybe that’s how all artists feel?
We were more than over the moon when we heard our EP had reached No 6, simply because of the fact that there are more people listening to our music than just our mothers! The EP launch show at the Night & Day Cafe in Manchester was, I think, the first time we’d sold out our own headline show. The feeling you get on stage when playing to a packed crowd who are there just to see you is indescribable!
I think the major difference in our lives is the fact that we try to do something that’s productive for the band everyday. As we’re a fully independent band, that doesn’t just mean writing music, but things such as curating our website, managing merchandise, updating socials, hustling media outlets and organising gigs, all before we even think about picking up an instrument. You have to be careful trying to balance everything and keep inspired. However, once you get into your stride and concentrate on having fun it soon becomes a good challenge.
You have also recently toured in the US. How does it feel to have found success on both sides of the Atlantic so early in your career?
So… the US is crazy! The people we met over there were more than welcoming. We actually lost track of the amount of meals that strangers payed for, all because we had British accents, (often confused for being Australian?!), and a pair of guitars. The tour itself was something that we’d organised ourselves, so we felt extremely lucky to be playing in the homeland of Blues & Americana, and to, (for us), a fresh audience who received us incredibly!
We actually had a pretty surreal experience of meeting and performing with Mark Cash, the nephew of Johnny Cash, on a stage owned by Johnny himself. That just left us with such a buzz, and I think it’s made us even hungrier to gain more traction, and experience more things like that!
You have funded your new EP with a very successful pledge campaign. Do you think such campaigns have a valid place in today’s music industry?
Absolutely! If it wasn’t for the crowdfunding campaign we wouldn’t be in the studio now recording our next EP. And it’s not just great for the artists, it gives the pledgers and the fans a much deeper insight into the bands they follow. Plus, owning one of your favourite artists records and knowing that it wouldn’t have happened without your contribution is a wicked feeling! These days you don’t just have to follow a band, you as an individual can directly help them progress and see exactly what your money goes towards!
What advice would you give to local emerging bands?
Well we still feel new to this game so we’re looking for advice ourselves, (if you have any please send some our way!), but one little quote we like to say to ourselves is that “Plan B is just a distraction from plan A”, courtesy of the big man Will Smith. Other than that, I think we’d have to go for the cliche: prepare for the unexpected, prepare for huge hurdles, but most importantly HAVE A HELL OF A GOOD TIME!!!!
What can fans expect from Maybe Frank in the near future?
We really are excited for the next chapter to unfold. We have a big gig announcement pending, which in itself has many surprises, (hopefully none too scary), for our fans. That will coincide with the Launch of this latest EP. Then, beyond that, we have lots of plans… all under wraps at the moment I’m afraid.
Any plans for this year’s festival season?
You’ll certainly be seeing our faces at a few of the local festivals this year, with a potential headline slot, (but we didn’t say that…). As for the national festivals, we’re just waiting to hear back, but, fingers crossed, you’ll see our name cropping up on the same bill as your favourite acts soon enough.