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
Where: Popscene, Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday
Tickets: $15 (sold out)