Just as Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy were not really Ramones, Jon, Barry, and Mince Fratelli aren’t related, and they aren’t Fratellis. It’s an inside joke. Remember the bad guys in The Goonies? That’s who John Lawler, Barry Wallace, and Gordon McRory took the surname from. The Fratellis are a Scottish trio; fourth man Will Foster tours with the band as keyboardist. The band grabbed ears almost as soon as they launched in 2005. Radio play and a record deal followed, with an EP out in April 2006. Their debut full-length Costello Music was released five months later. On the strength of how long those songs lasted on various music industry charts, the Fratellis were named the British Breakthrough Act of 2007.
The Fratellis: "Chelsea Dagger"
Guitarist John Lawler, 39, is the band’s chief songwriter. There’s a frayed quality about him, a Johnny Thunders sort-of fragility. When his band was touring the U.S. in support of Costello Music, Lawler ditched the tour and went back home to Glasgow. Lawler said that after two years on the road, he was tired. They cancelled nine U.S. dates, including a stop at the hometown House of Blues. After 2009, Lawler left the band entirely, switched back to his legal name, and took up with the Codeine Velvet Club band.
The split didn’t last. The Fratellis reunited, again selling out shows on both sides of the Atlantic, and eventually recorded three more albums. Raised on Clash? Yeah, sure. It’s clear this is who Lawler, along with the rest of the Fratellis, grew up listening to. Plus the Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, and maybe some New York Dolls. Keep in mind that Costello Music was both prized and dissed. Why? The Fratellis aren’t particularly original, and in that way they’re predictable. But even though we’ve heard it all before, the Fratellis knock it clear out of the park.
The May 4 show at Observatory North Park will be opened by Blood Red Shoes.