Fray is a plain talking, honest indie icon in the making. As he chomps on a sandwich, ruffles his hair and utters words in a Mancunian slur, he’s polite but very confident ahead of the band’s opening gig of their first ever headlining tour. It’s sold out.
Hailing from a city boasting of so many top bands, Fray has already claimed to be “Morrissey with strings” and that the debut will be up there with the likes of those by Stone Roses and Oasis. “We’re aiming to be as good as them, or else what’s the point? Nothing came out of Manchester for 10 years, it needs a kick start and we are leading the way.”
It all began on the wet, dark, gloomy streets of Manchester with just Fray and his guitar. “I just used to go round bars, doing acoustic stuff. I never took it very seriously but then I started to get a positive reaction. So I fucked uni off and formed the band.”
The grit-rockers produce post-Libertines frantic fuzzy tracks such as Acrylic and Cavorting that fuel his confidence and ignite his charisma. They were enough to attract the attention of producer Stephen Street who has worked with The Smiths, Blur and Kaiser Chiefs. “He approached our label because he wanted to produce our album. We were already pretty nervous about making the record, but it just made it worse. We had to put all these ideas to him.” The as-yet-untitled album is slated for release in March 2008.
Fray has wasted no time in making controversial headlines, by having a feud with The Enemy and slagging off Richard Archer of Hard-Fi. Yet to play a single note on a headlining tour and the singer is already firing out bold statements and outspoken views.
“The Enemy thing… I know it was a mistake now and it wasn’t a good idea,” he says, before confirming his view of Archer in forthright language. “People know where they stand with me. I’m an honest guy, there’s no act here. I’m setting my stall out and this is who I am.”
“We fucking work hard. We just keep playing gigs and people keep coming back.”– Liam Fray on The Courteeners’ attraction
With MySpace churning out so many very average bands in a globalised music world, what makes The Courteeners any different?
“There are just so many bands around now, it gives them false hope. But we won’t be one of them because we’re not taking anyone for a ride and we fucking work hard. We just keep playing gigs and people keep coming back.”
Are The Courteeners about to create something pretty special? Before they can be hailed as the next Arctic Monkeys they will have to survive the test of time and the baggage of hype. And while the likely lads will forever leave their mark, supermodels, court cases and talks of rehab have killed the Albion dream.
It’s about time we got excited about music again. The stage is all yours, Liam.