Analogue Music | Frances Cone

Frances Cone

By Matt Conner

Christina Cone uses words like "patient" and "careful" to describe the songs on Late Riser.

Time certainly tells the same story. Five years have passed since a new Frances Cone release, 2013's Come Back, and many things have changed since then. Nashville, not New York, is now her home. Andy Doherty is her partner, both musically and romantically. Amid the changes, the songs were slowly crafted, given the care and attention they deserve before sending them out into a cold digital age.

Fortunately Late Riser speaks for itself, calculated indie pop that knows when to expand and when to pull back. The editorial process can be difficult for some artists who are too close to their own work, but Frances Cone shows off a duo with a necessary distance from their work. The result is an early gem of a release in 2019, one that deserves the kind of care from the listener.

Analogue: You recently moved to Nashville. Was it a musical move like most in this town?

Christina Cone: I was in New York for 11 years and the last year we were there, which was just last year, we were touring so much and paying rent and it just stopped making sense. We couldn't sublet it while we were gone, so we were spending thousands of dollars per month and not living in New York City. It's one thing to pay that much and to live there, because I love that city, but to pay that much and not be there is just stupid. [Laughs] We were like, 'Uh, we should leave.' So we did and now we live in Nashville. It's not like it's insanely cheaper but we have a house and a yard and space. We went through the ringer and got our AirBnB permit so we could legally rent out our house while we're touring. We're just trying to be long-term smart about it. I don't want to be in debt forever. [Laughs]

Analogue: For those who are new to Frances Cone, how did the band come together?

Christina: The first Frances Cone album was just me. I made that album with Danny Molad, the drummer in Lucius, and then I had to find a band to make it sound like the thing that we'd made. Andy auditioned for me, which is hilarious to think about, in my apartment on 12/12/12, which I didn't realize until last year. [Laughs] I went to look up the first email to each other and realized that was when we'd met. I love shit like that.

So he played that first show with me and was really devoted early to figure out exactly what sounds I liked. It was easier for me to figure out what I didn't like, but Andy spent a lot of time helping me figure things out. He played me that first Bahamas record. He'd find sounds and I'd say, 'That's it.' He was just in because he liked the songs. And then he liked me. [Laughs] So that worked out. For those first six months or whatever, it was Andy getting in there to figure out how to write the recipe.

Frances Cone 2
Frances Cone 2

Analogue: Has Late Riser been in the works all this time?

Christina: We made a four-song EP and released it in 2014 or '15 and then started recording this after that little cycle are over. Some of the songs are a few years old and a couple of them are a few months old. They're all over the place.

Analogue: Does it feel like it's been a while to you to have something out there?

Christina: Yeah, it feels really crazy. I posted a teaser of "Failure" this morning on Instagram and I was like, 'Oh, I don't know. I don't know if I want to know what everyone else thinks. I want to keep these little babies to myself!' [Laughs] Then again, I really don't. The next album we release will be in six months and way less careful. We took our time on these songs and I'm grateful and happy with these songs as they are, as a group, as a team of 10. We were really patient with ourselves and made this great thing.

Analogue: Was that part of the vision to be that patient? What informed that?

Christina: Well, we put out Arizona and it was supposed to quickly be followed up by an album. We had the songs recorded. I mean they weren't fully mixed but they were there. Then Arizona just did so well out of the blue. I checked Spotify one day and was like, 'Ooh, people are listening to that.' I didn't know how or why, and at the time, we didn't have a manager or anyone. So then the choice was to put all the songs right now to see what happens or to slowly assemble a team and see what it's like to not do it alone. So we went with option B and I think it was the right thing to do.

Analogue: So I take it this process feels vulnerable given the way you discuss the music.

Christina: Oh, yes. There's just so much music, so if anyone listens to these songs, I'm just super grateful and excited. There's so much out there.

Analogue: Yet at the same time, you have to be confident enough to put yourself out there.

Christina: It's a duel. Every narcissist is deeply questioning themselves. There's always the flaw or the other side. I'm not calling myself a narcissist, but I'm just saying... [Laughs] There's always just the exact opposite and you probably have the same thing, too.

Analogue: Yeah, I think everyone wrestles with the tension of both sides of their personality. You recently wrapped up tour dates with Tall Heights and we just spoke to those guys, too. How did those shows go?

Christina: They are wonderful people. I see lots of shows, but the way these guys have taken care of this tour like we're a sweet little family is something I want to remember for the rest of my life. The crowds have also been great. We rolled up to this venue in Utah and it was basically a glorified shack. I was like, 'Oh shit, what exactly am I doing with my life?' Then suddenly 200 sober teenagers turned up out of the blue and were so generous. Maybe it's because they weren't drinking anything so they had nothing in their hands and could clap really loud.

That show meant so much to me. I never really talk about what the song "Arizona" is about because it's about my brother coming out of the closet, which I realize now had way more impact on my life than his. [Laughs] But I'd never told that story, but I told that story in Utah and my brother had also told me in Utah. It's called "Arizona" because I'd flown into Arizona. Anyway, I told that crowd of teenagers that story and it seemed to mean so much to them, so then it meant so much to me. I looked at Andy halfway through and we were both a little teary-eyed.

Little magical things like that have happened along the way the more we do this crazy thing, which is sleep in a new place every night and never quite know what's happening. [Laughs] It's worth it for those moments. There's nothing else like it. You hear about people staying home to make music, but I think if you really love it, you keep touring. Paul Simon is still touring because he loves the connection. I don't know if he likes the money because he certainly has enough. There's a reason people keep doing it forever.