Nearly four years after the release of their sophomore CD, “A Promise to Burn,” Nashville-based rock group Framing Hanley released their third studio album, “The Sum of Who We Are,” in late April. Touring in support of the album, the band spent a weekend in the Houston area in June, playing both the 18th Street Pier in San Leon and BFE Rock Club in Northwest Houston.
“It’s just awesome to be back out on the road again. This is kind of the reward for us… when you work on an album for so long, to go out and be able to play it for people,” said the group’s lead vocalist and songwriter Kenneth Nixon.Formed in 2005, Framing Hanley developed a solid following in their home market of Nashville before being signed to record label Silent Majority Group on the strength of a pair of demo tracks that got the attention of former Sevendust and Paramore manager Jeff Hanson.
The group’s first album “The Majority,” featured “Hear Me Now” — which was the track that swayed Hanson to sign the band — and a cover of Lil’ Wayne’s hit “Lollipop,” which steadily climbed the rock charts in 2008 and introduced Framing Hanley to audiences worldwide. The single “Lollipop” was eventually certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, after selling more than half a million copies.
Framing Hanley’s sophomore release, “A Promise to Burn,” debuted at No. 57 on the Billboard 200 chart and featured the hit “You Stupid Girl.” Breaking into the Top 10 Alternative Albums chart for 2010, the album helped the band showcase their songwriting and gave the group a platform to tour extensively throughout 2010 and 2011.
However, after a split with their label, Framing Hanley took to Kickstarter in 2012 to help raise funds for their third album, which Nixon told fans would contain the groups best songwriting yet.
The band was openly apologetic for coming to their fans for financial support, but in a heartfelt video, Nixon explained the group’s situation and their goals. Fans responded, donating a total of more than $60,000 — more than 150 percent of the band’s $40,000 campaign goal — in just a month.
“We’re lucky enough to be out here playing (the music) for people who have been waiting patiently for it. It’s awesome to be out here on the road and feel like we’re a real rock band again,” said Nixon.Returning to Houston for the first time in several years, the band’s frontman expressed his enthusiasm at being able to book three separate shows in the Texas Gulf Coast region in a single weekend — aside from the blazing June heat.
“It’s hot and muggy, but we’re from Nashville, so we’re used to it,” he explained.
“It’s a weird situation, because we played just outside Houston a couple of nights ago and then went to Beaumont last night, and then we’re here (at BFE Rock Club) tonight. Usually, you don’t play that many shows that close together… but every time we come to Houston, it’s a good time,” he added.
The long wait seems to have paid off, as fans eager to see the band in Houston again packed BFE on a Sunday night. And, with the first single from “The Sum of Who We Are” receiving regular radio airplay, the album is now charting on the Billboard 200 and reaching No. 14 on Billboard’s Alternative Albums chart.
Despite the massive success of their cover of “Lollipop,” and three albums now in the books, Nixon stresses how important songwriting is to Framing Hanley, and also to other bands playing in a local market and looking to take that next step.
“It’s all about the songs,” Nixon said. “If you write an undeniable melody and lyrics, hand in hand, everything else is going to come together. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be selling out stadiums, but you could achieve the success of being able to tour even just regionally. And if you do have that song, that can eventually put (you) on another level.”As for those local bands looking for their break onto a regional or national stage, Nixon advises: “Just keep playing shows, because it’s the only way you’re going to get better at your craft. And most importantly, keep writing.”
And though Nixon and the gang feel very fortunate to be out on the road again, days like their Sunday BFE Rock Club show provide a reminder of the balance a working band has to strike between their family at home and their family out on the road.
“Today is one of those days where the road can be a little tough… I’ve got two little boys, and being away from home on Father’s Day is one of those things. But, we’re so fortunate to be able to do what we do, and be able to call it a job… If it ever gets tough out here, that’s what I try to think about… how lucky and fortunate we are to be able to call this our job, and to know that there are people out there that care about the music we create. It’s a pretty special thing.”
- Kenneth Nixon – Vocals
- Brandon Wootten – Guitar
- Ryan Belcher – Guitar
- Jonathan Stoye – Bass
- Chris Vest – Drums
Connect with Framing Hanley:
Nixon’s Twitter: @fhnixon