Founded in 1957 by John McNally (guitar/vocals), The Searchers were one of the premier beat groups to emerge from the mid-'60s Merseybeat explosion.
Citing Lonnie Donegan as a huge influence, only one year after they got together the Liverpool skiffle band had a huge No.1 hit with 'Sweets For My Sweet'. Inspite a few line-up changes along the way, The Searchers can boast a career that spans over four decades. Today, The Searchers continue to headline shows and concerts, and are currently touring the UK with the Solid Silver '60s Show.
So how's the tour going?
Frank: Well, we're here in Bristol at the moment, on the second night of the tour and it's a beautiful day. The opening night went well, although we were still feeling our way a bit, ironing out the running order and finale. But it all went off really well, so we're looking forward to tonight and the rest of the dates. We're largely touring the UK, but will be nipping over to Austria and Germany as well at some point.
So it's safe to say that The Searchers is still your full-time job?
Frank: Oh yes, it's been our full-time job for nearly 40 years! We tour throughout the year, we don't stop. Ten days is about as much time that we get off at one time. I guess you could say I'm not the typical family man.
So what sort of a crowd do you get turning up to the shows these days?
Frank: Well we really do get from the incredibly young to the fast approaching death, there are no rules to who comes along. We obviously still have that nucleus of people that followed us years and years ago too, but if you were to work out the average of our followers it would be around 45. But we do have teenagers and babes in arms coming along with their families to gigs.
So how long has it been since you took on a serious recording project?
Frank: The last serious project we took on was in 1989. We recorded an album in Germany, called 'Hungry Hearts'. We had to fly over on our days off to record it, but it was great to get the chance to marry new technology with our old harmonies and sound. That worked out pretty well. There was also a period in 1981 when we recorded a couple of albums for Sire Records, which is a very serious New York label. The label's run by Seymoour Stein, the guy that signed up Madonna, as well as a lot of a label mates, like The Flaming Groovies, Talking Heads, The Ramones and Rezillos. We produced a couple of great albums that were really taken very seriously by the media, but unfortunately weren't taken seriously by the DJs, so we didn't get any hits. We had acres and acres of double page-spreads in publications like Melody Maker and NME and things like that. The Sire period was a great time for us. No hits but a lot of street cred!
Would you have traded some of that cred. for a hit?
Frank: Oh yeah, there's nothing like a hit! I do have a future and a pension to think of! Although we do make more money now than we ever did in the days when we were making real hit records. The business has changed, money has changed and I think people put a greater value on artists now. We work constantly and for good money all the time. But what I miss about those days is the status, I suppose, and that people know who you are. There's nothing like a little ego boost, you can't knock a bit of fame!