Framing Hanley’s new album The Sum Of Who We Are on Imagen Records is the band’s boldest artistic statement to date, capturing the essence of innocence and hope, light and darkness, struggle and determination. The album is a collection of modern alternative rock infused with undeniable pop hooks, heart-felt lyrics and huge choruses worthy of an arena size sing-a-long.
“Every band says that they feel like they're getting better with the years” states frontman Nixon. “So while I feel that's a trite statement, I can't deny it. We've never written as much material for an album as we did for this one. We had to cut so many songs that we felt were strong. We also recorded songs for the album that we felt weren't ‘there’ yet only to go back to the drawing board and get it right.”
The Sum Of Who We Are is a perfect soundtrack to the last two years of struggle and triumph the band has endured, leaving the listener with a feeling that every single song is the most important song the band has ever written.
The first single “Criminal” is a full on anthem, cleverly illustrating the trappings of circumstance in an exhausted relationship. Other songs like “Twisted Halos”, “Crooked Smiles”, “Rollercoaster", and “Crash & Burn”, have an honesty and underlying theme of finding beauty in the tragedy of loss, finding light in the total darkness and finding hope when there is nothing left.
“There was definitely a dark period during the 2 years we spent recording this” states Nixon. “That’s not to say this album is some dark and brooding album. There are definitely some light-hearted tunes on here as well; some that are fun. This album is the past 2 years of our lives and is every part of our beings…that’s what the title means. This album really is the sum of who we are. The thing that I love most is, I think when the listener puts on those headphones, or puts the cd in the car, he or she is gonna listen and come to find out, hey, me and this guy have got some things in common!”
The album’s cover is a powerful image that conjures up deep emotions, resonating with the lyrical and musical theme of the album.
“The cover is a photo of my son at the park taken by Chris’s wife Krystl” states Nixon. “When my wife showed me the picture, it immediately resonated in so many ways. At the time, the other band members and I were all going back and forth for cover ideas for the record, but when I saw this, it was just too strong of an image to not be used. It was perfect! Looking at that picture I see so many things. I see innocence. I see determination...the ‘I'll make my own path’ adage. Walking from the light, to the darkness; that to me is a pretty heavy statement in itself. I could go on all day with a million different things of what the picture says to me, but the best thing about this cover is I think it's a picture people can look at and interpret their own meaning. No different than a song really. I love hearing a fan's perspective of a song because it is always different. I expect this picture to be the same.”
From Nashville, TN, Framing Hanley gradually came together when high school friends, drummer Chris Vest & bassist Luke McDuffee met future vocalist Kenneth Nixon at Volunteer State Community College. The trio quickly recruited guitarists Brandon Wooten and Tim Huskinson to complete the line-up. The band recorded a 5 song EP entitled With October Came The Fall under the moniker Embers Fade and started their rise to the very top of their local rock scene.
Realizing their growing fan base and the need to record a proper full length album, Vest contacted former Creed bassist & Dark New Day front man, Brett Hestla. Hestla agreed to record two tracks with the band in November 2006. “I had the chorus to ‘Hear Me Now’ in my head when we arrived in Orlando to record” remembers Nixon, fondly. “But, working with Brett is what helped us realize our potential as song writers.”
In January 2007, manager Jeff Hanson (Creed / Paramore / Sevendust) and his business partner, Rick Schmidt (former radio programmer of DC101 / 98ROCK Tampa) heard the first demo of “Hear Me Now” and immediately signed the band to their new indie label Silent Majority Group. “Radio was my background for 20 years and I knew that ‘Hear Me Now’ was a very special song; and Jeff has helped develop a number of very successful artists and there was no question in his mind that the band was capable of great things” says Schmidt.
With the new year also came a new name, and Framing Hanley was born. The “Hanley” in the band’s name is a tribute to a friend, Ashley Hanley, who died tragically in a car accident in October 2006. “Ashley was our biggest fan. She was a tireless promoter of our music and she was an anchor for us emotionally. She was a best friend to the band,” said Nixon.
In early 2007, Framing Hanley wrote and recorded their debut release The Moment in just 6 weeks. In March of 2007 “Hear Me Now” was already on numerous radio stations and Silent Majority Group subsequently released an independent version of The Moment in May. By June, on the strength of the song and the new album, Silent Majority Group entered into a distribution agreement with Warner’s Independent Label Group. The Moment was released nationally on August 7 and immediately the band hit the road to support the effort playing on several big package tours and radio shows across the US.
Framing Hanley wrapped 2007 with the most played song of the year (“Hear Me Now”) on Sirius Octane and garnered airplay on over 50 radio stations across the nation, breaking into the top 40 on the active rock charts.
In 2008, guitarist Ryan Belcher joined Framing Hanley replacing Tim Huskinson, who left the band on good terms to spend more time with his family. “Ryan came in and had big shoes to fill. After only a couple of hours of jamming with him for the first time though, we knew we found what we needed and were looking for” Nixon says.
Framing Haney started working on A Promise to Burn in 2008 during brief breaks from touring for The Moment. But just when they started gaining momentum with some of the songs, they decided to play a live cover of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” as a joke for a hometown crowd. The song went over so well, they started covering it at other gigs, and pretty soon they decided to enter the studio and record “Lollipop” for a re-release of The Moment. The song blew up and Framing Hanley returned to the road for nearly 18 months straight.
As Nixon puts it, “If you would’ve told me the day I suggested covering ‘Lollipop’ that we would end up shooting a video for it…or even pushing it at radio as a single, I would’ve laughed and told you you’re crazy. It was already an incredible song, and we put our spin on it and created something that seemingly caught on and people seemed to enjoy.”
“Lollipop” was released to radio in October and added to the re-release of The Moment. Over 130 radio stations added the song into rotation in Alternative, Active, Mainstream and Top 40. “Lollipop” went Digital Gold in June 2009 (over 500,000 copies sold).
The band teamed back up with producer Brett Hestla in November 2009 to complete their sophomore effort A Promise To Burn. Since they had been on the road for so long, Framing Hanley only had a handful of new songs to work with, so they worked nearly nonstop for a solid month with Hestla and came up with a strong album’s worth of tunes.
“Originally we were all kind of worried that we would get down there and bang our heads against the wall in frustration, but that’s the opposite of what happened,” Belcher says. “The songs just flowed out of us and with the help of Brett, they came together pretty quickly.”
In 2010, A Promise To Burn was released spawning the active rock hit “You Stupid Girl”. The band hit the road again in support of the effort headlining shows around the globe including UK's Download Festival, Australia's Soundwave Festival and Rock on the Range in the US.
After taking a much needed break to recharge, the band returned to the studio in 2012 to start work on The Sum Of Who We Are. The band worked with multiple producers this time around to hone in and achieve a new bigger sound. The music is a perfect blend of aggressive, yet melodic alternative rock, infused with the driving hooks of pop.
The Sum Of Who We Are was funded entirely by the band’s loyal fanbase by donating money via a Kickstarter campaign. “First and foremost, our incredible fans are the reason it's even possible” states Nixon. “They funded the entire thing on Kickstarter. That is still unbelievable to us. This record from start to finish is everything that we have in us. The ‘sum of who we are’ if you will.”
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