Q&A: Uncle Frank - Fun Lovin' Criminals
Fun Lovin' Criminals drummer Frank Benbini is one half of the music duo, who will hit Belfast this weekend for a special show in a fan's living roomThis tour you're on is to promote your new single, Step into My Room. How did you come up with this unusual
approach to playing live?
We were brainstorming ideas, and it dawned on us that we could ask fans to enter a competition to win a chance of us actually 'stepping into your room' and playing our own concert in your living room. We've been told we're the first people to do it as a tour. People have done one-offs, but no-one's ever done a 14-date-long tour.
How has it gone so far?
It's been an absolute pleasure. The fans have really taken it to heart. Earlier this week, we turned up in Manchester and they'd made cupcakes for us; some people are brewing their own Uncle Frank beer, and next week, somebody's going to rent a marquee and put it in the garden.
We didn't purposely write a song called Step into My Room for this to happen, but it's a godsend we did, because it's given us one of the most unique things I've done.
Have there been any kind of logistical difficulties so far?
You're going into the unknown, but it couldn't have gone any better. We have a tour manager/security guy who's an ex-SAS military man, so as we arrive at the places, he goes in first and scopes them out, then we move the furniture around and set it all up, and once it's okay, we'll bring the band in and off we go.
How about complaints from the neighbours?
The people have been smart enough to realise that it's going to be loud and a little bit rowdy, so they've invited all the neighbours. It turns into a really cool, kind of New York block party/bbq/street party, really. But it's not finished yet, so you never know!
How does it compare to your day job with the Fun Lovin' Criminals?
I've been touring the world now for 15 years at a high level, so there's virtually no festival or music venue that I've not played, but I've got more kicks out of this than I have playing on the main stage at Glastonbury, because I'm getting to interact with people.
Could this become a cheaper alternative to 'proper' touring?
My musical partner Naim [Cortazzi, guitar] and I think every band should do a tour where it's free to come in, but then we lock the doors and you have to pay to leave! Seriously, though, we had that many people enter the competition, we probably could do this for a whole year.
What do you know about the Belfast competition winner?
I don't know anything, and I kind of like to keep it like that, because it keeps it more exciting for me and them. All I know is, he's throwing a barbecue, and it's Ireland – so, it'll be a fantastic atmosphere.
Uncle Frank play somewhere in Belfast tomorrow. For details and footage of the gig, visit www.unclefrankmusic.com
INTERVIEW: Andrew Johnston