Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interview: Framing Hanley's Kenneth Nixon makes tasty tracks

Within a span of just a few months, Framing Hanley went from being a bunch of random kids with amazingly cool-looking haircuts to chart-climbing rockers.

And it's all thanks to the band's cover - ironically - of a hip-hop song.

Lil Wayne's smash "Lollipop," to be specific.

Not surprisingly, this wasn't the plan. If you ask lead singer Kenneth Nixon, he'll tell you the song was supposed to be played only once, during a gig in the band's hometown of Nashville. And even that almost didn't happen.

"I'm a huge Lil Wayne fan, and I heard the song on the radio on the way to rehearsal last summer. I was like, 'We should totally cover this song at our hometown show,' and the band laughed it off at first," he said. "But 20 minutes later, Ryan (Belcher) was playing it on the guitar, and an hour later, we had our version."
That same cover - the song the guys took as a joke at first - eventually climbed in the Top 25 on the modern rock chart.

So, yes, the success came as a shock to the band. A good one.

"When we first played 'Lollipop,' we never knew it would become anything," Nixon said. "Just the fact a rock crowd has been so receptive to a hip-hop song is an awesome thing."

Listening to Framing Hanley's current full-length, "The Moment," it's hard to believe Nixon is at all influenced by hip-hop. You might guess Chevelle or Breaking Benjamin. Hard-edged guitars, thick, melodic vocals and post-grunge anthems make up the post-hardcore band's sound. Truth be told, Nixon listens to everything from Kanye West to Merle Haggard (his father was a country musician). And Guns 'N Roses is the reason he got into rock in the first place.

The guys of Framing Hanley first got together in 2005. Success came early, thanks to the band's MySpace demos getting discovered by Brett Hestla, former Creed bassist and frontman of Dark New Day. Hestla recorded their two-song demo, and Silent Majority Group (Candlebox, Tantric) picked them up.

Nixon is loving every minute of the band's newfound fame.

"It's great getting to meet people every night who are fans of rock music and of music in general, and who appreciate what bands like us are doing," he said. "The fact is, we're five fans of music who got lucky, and now we get a chance to play our music. It's awesome that people our there care to listen to it."

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