Vince Frank knows how to grab attention. His opening line of this meeting, which takes place first thing in the morning, is: “I haven’t been home. I just woke up and then, you know when you look down and your head just starts going woo-hoo…? Too much drinking last night. It’s the first time I’ve let my hair down for a while, so I thought I’d make the most of it. We went to some horrible nightbclubs and I bumped into some old schoolfriends.”
Born in Thornton Heath, moved to New Addington, moved back to Thornton Heath. “I was going to public school and then I was going back to New Addington afterwards. Everyone at school would have Mercedes-Benzs and my mum would pull up in a Metro. It was a horrible estate, really horrible. One of the worst. It’s off the scale when it comes to how hideous. It’s eaven worse, apparently, than it used to be. It used to just be white people, but now there’s this clash of cultures, which is not very good. I love the fact that there’s just one road in, one road out. It’s quite terrifying.”
He went to a few schools. “My mum likes to say, ‘Vincent, you were never expelled, you were merely asked to leave.’ Of course if you didn’t leave then they’d expel you.” He reels off a list of five school names, finishing up with Christs Hospital, in West Sussex, close to where he was born. Why was he “asked to leave” so many schools? He sighs. “Attention problems. ‘Vincent was very good at working on what he wanted to work on. Anything else would be monumentally slow, at a snail’s pace. It would be too fast for him.’ I very much acted the fool and was desperate for attention. I had attention deficit whateveritwas. It’s gone now. It got beaten out of me.” He laughs, possibly acting the fool, possibly playing a straight bat.
“There’s a snobbery, a stigma. The world revolves around London, and in zone 6 you’re so close but so far from it. I wasn’t born in London but I got there as fast as I could.”
That said, he’s still living in Thornton Heath. “I’m still living with my nan, looking after her as and when I can. It’s just nice for her to know someone living with her because grandad passed away. So I stick around, tide things over, as it were.”
Seeking attention – AXM? “Before I even had a record deal I did a naked photoshoot for AXM. And it was for male eating disorders.” I’m trying not to laugh as he continues, “I signed up to it. I used to be very self-conscious about my body, so I wouldn’t have done it as a ‘Yeah, check me out’. It was a subject I thought hadn’t had enough attention. I don’t have a problem getting my kit off now, which is why I did it again a year later.”
His music, being ’80s influenced electropop, he blames his mother for. It was she who had Bros and Pet Shop Boys singles; he says he loves West End Girls, though admits it was released before he was born (and if that makes me feel old, I’m pitying Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.)
He’s been compared to Mika. Is that fair? “He’s a great songwriter and he’s sold lots of records. That’s what you sign up to. ‘Cool’ and ‘pop star’ are kinda hard to tie together. When he walks into a room you just know that guy is beyond normal.
We live in an age where possibly fame is the most annoying thing in the world. And it seems that most people think that doing as little as possible and getting as famous for it as possible is the best thing to do. I think fame should only be warranted by the rate of your success. Prince doesn’t need to flaunt it.
Six months down the line when the album comes out it could change, but for now I’m very much dedicated to my live show. It’s an area where a lot of pop acts really fail, in making a decent and authentic live show. I really want to get it right because you already have a stigma attached to you as soon as you say you’re a studio artist. The Keane tour was a way for me to practice being a star on stage. Be normal off stage, but then turn the Sasha Fierce thing when you hit the deck. I want to be taken seriously as a decent pop live act.
Stuart Price is credited with co-production duties. “No-one’s written anything on the album other than me. I refused that, I turned it down on numerous occasions. I got what I wanted – whether it’s paid off, I guess we wait to find out. I’d rather go out with my first album knowing I wrote everything on it.”
Giant Sam Sparro glasses: “I was wearing them before he was; before I even had a record deal. That was quite funny. He started wearing these white glasses and I very quickly stopped wearing mine.”
“I’ve done a remix or cover of It’s A Sin, where I’ve sampled it and dropped it in the chorus. I love what they do. I like to keep myself at a distance, aloof384