courtesy photoThe Fratellis play Popscene this week in support of their new album.

courtesy photoThe Fratellis play Popscene this week in support of their new album.

Scottish trio The Fratellis are back after breaking up

It wasn’t a break, it was a break-up. Glasgow trio The Fratellis grew sick of each other. After spending four years together, vocalist-guitarist Jon Lawler, bassist Barry Wallace and drummer Gordon “Mince” McRory couldn’t handle being in the same room.

“It just caused a lot of tension,” Lawler says. “We, or at least I, didn’t deal with that tension very well. I felt like the only thing to do was run away in the opposite direction.”

Yet the band is back together on its first American tour in four years, promoting its new blues-rock-heavy album, “We Need Medicine.” The tour stops at Popscene on Thursday in The City.

The Fratellis had a quick rise to prominence in 2006, with an iPod ad highlighting the single “Flathead,” British press declaring them the best new rock band and the song “Chelsea Dagger” getting featured at countless sporting events.

The following year, the band was the opener on the Police’s reunion tour and at the height of its success with its debut album, “Costello Music.” But in 2008, with the follow-up, “Here We Stand,” it disappeared.

“We had that kind of classic rock ’n’ roll tale of this steep ascent and sort of falling from the cliff on the other side,” Lawler says. “Nobody tells you how to deal with it when it happens. It’s not the end of the world — it’s just music — but at that time, when you fall off that cliff of success … you’re not sure how to deal with it. Our way was to go off and do something else. Looking back on it, it’s just sort of running away.”

For three years, the three didn’t speak to each other, choosing to pursue other projects. Wallace joined a rock band, McRory a heavy-metal act, and Lawler recorded a solo album and started a retro-leaning band called Codeine Velvet Club. None neared the success of the Fratellis.

Then Lawler awoke one morning and questioned why he gave up on the thing that made him happiest.

“Why were we not going out and playing for people?” he says. “It’s all we ever wanted. It’s all anybody ever wants.”

Lawler had a solo performance coming up and invited McRory and Wallace to join him. While rehearsing, the band wrote two new songs, “This Old Ghost Town” and the appropriately titled “Rock ’n’ Roll Will Break Your Heart.”

“We had an audience, and I guessed half of them are probably still out there,” Lawler says. “It took the entire three years we didn’t play together to really [understand] that. Artists will tell you they do it for themselves, but at some point, you really … need that reaction from real people.”

IF YOU GO

The Fratellis

Where: Popscene, Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.

When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $15 (sold out)

Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.popscene-sf.comartsFratellisJohn LawlerPop Music & JazzWe Need Medicine

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Health care workers in the intensive care unit at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, with Alejandro Balderas, a 44-year-old patient who later died. Even in California, a state with a coronavirus vaccination rate well above average, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly doubled in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. (Isadora Kosofsky/The New York Times)
Why COVID took off in California, again

‘The good news is: The vaccines are working’

Students practice identifying species in the school garden at Verde Elementary in Richmond during summer camp. (Photo courtesy of Verde Elementary)
Reading, writing and bike riding: How schools spent summer helping students recover from pandemic

By Sydney Johnson EdSource Bicycles typically aren’t allowed on the blacktop at… Continue reading

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission launched a pilot program that offers up to 90 percent discounts on water and sewer bills for eligible customers. (Andri Tambunan/Special to ProPublica)
How does 90% off your water bill sound? Here’s who qualifies

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission announced this week it is launching… Continue reading

Unscrupulous, boundary-pushing executives seem to be an inescapable part of the most exciting technology. (Timo Lenzen/The New York Times)
Why tech innovation invites a breed of unscrupulous hucksters

By Shira Ovide New York Times I’m angry about startup founders who… Continue reading

Most Read