Summer is almost here and it’s time to take a vacation with the platinum-selling duo Frenship (Brett Hite and James Sunderland), who recently released their debut full-length album and are now hitting the road with their “Vacation” tour. The L.A.-based duo took the music world by storm with their 2016 smash-hit single “Capsize,” featuring Emily Warren, but if you think that’s the epitome of Frenship’s talent and success, you’re in for a treat. Besides wanting every show to feel as intimate as it is high-energy, both Hite and Sunderland want this album and tour to do more than just entertain. They want to inspire audiences to leave the real world behind and take a break from their problems — or a vacation, if you will. Sunderland and Hite sat down with Metro to discuss their new album, their inspirations and what you can expect from their tour this summer.
Take a much needed “Vacation” with Frenship this summer
“Vacation” is your first full-length album. What went into writing this album and what was the inspiration?
Brett Hite (BH): I don’t know if just one thing claimed it for what it was about, but I think there was a general sense of being tired of the situation that we were in, both in, like, living in L.A. and kind of missing the mountains and the trees and then [with] the label. Where we were was really exhausting and really not helping us much, so I think there’s a bit of desire or longing, longing to get away, longing for the people that we miss. So yeah, I think that longing went into making this.
Did you feel stifled by the label or did they have a vision that was not quite what you wanted?
James Sunderland (JS): Yeah, I think we were stifled creatively. I think in essence we had a really big song and that opens up the world for you. You know, you have 10 choices of labels, you can do whatever the hell you want. You can make everything, you can pay for this, pay for that. At the start of it, we thought we were getting into a really long relationship that was going to last our entire career, because we’re looking to build the 20-year, 30-year career. You don’t have to have hit songs one after the other in order to do that. We want to be a little more artistic and go in different directions musically with videos and you name it. [But] I think we ended up butting heads on multiple things. I mean, the label operates off of the wins. They are in a game of quick turnover and quick return, so again we were hoping to last a long time and they just kind of weren’t on the same page and that’s what came after.
BH: I think at the end of the day, they very much understand that it’s a business and we operate that way as well. But we think there are some times where you need to be creative. This happened on multiple occasions, that we had this whole thing and this is what we wanted it to look like, and we wanted to take six months to a year to make it look like this, and then they’ll say, “No one will get that” and “That won’t make sense to anyone.” Then literally six months later we’ll be seeing Shawn Mendes and other people doing this exact thing that we wanted to do, and that’s just kind of one example of the frustrations there. I mean, at the end of the day the real fact is that we made the label millions, and we couldn’t get $500 for a paper ad. That’s just not a good relationship to be in.
Jumping back to your new album, “Vacation,” do you have a favorite song on there or even a favorite song to perform?
JS: Only speaking for me, I really love “Get Out My Way,” and I love playing “Run II U.” I don’t sing a ton on that one, but it’s kind of nice to just sit back and let Brett do what he does, so I would say those two do it for me.
How was collaborating with Bastille and Yoke Lore for the album?
BH: Great. Collaborations are not always an easy thing but they tend to be a lot easier and more natural when the people kind of feel like family to you. And both of them do feel like family to us. It just kind of helps smooth things along. You don’t have to spend the first few hours working with them trying to figure out who they are and trying to figure out where they are at in life before you even start going. But it makes a very smooth process.
Are there any other artists that you would like to collaborate with?
JS: Oh yeah, probably too many to name. We’re huge fans of Boniver and we’re still Coldplay fans. We would love to get in the room with Chris Martin sometime, and those are kind of two of our muses.
What do you like most about taking your music on the road?
BH: For me, it’s very specific: looking out and seeing people’s faces. You can see the story of what the song means to them. With this tour, I’m curious to see how it goes because it starts the day after the album gets released, so we will see if people are familiar with our new stuff at all. But yeah, I really like seeing everybody wear their own experiences on their faces.
What kind of energy do you try to bring when you play?
JS: A lot of it depends on the room that it’s happening in. If it’s a huge, sold-out show, there’s a lot of energy. But we try not to pay attention to that, [we] bring as much energy as we can every night even if we’re tired or whatever. It’s a fairly high-energy show. We got some planned choreography. I think a lot of shows we go to, the artist doesn’t do a ton of interaction with the crowd; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. We try to make it feel like a living room and we try to make it a personal experience.
Overall, what can audience members expect when attending a concert of yours?
JS: I think that they can expect to forget their lives for an hour and a half. I think that is the goal that we try to do [with] every show, to try to keep people trapped in that room, not texting, not on their phones, not trying to think about other things in life. It really is us trying to keep people present. I think people can expect to be present for an hour and a half, which is hard to do.
“Vacation” is out now, to see if Frenship is coming to a city near you visit wearefresnship.com