FRENSHIP(photo: Dan Regan)

James Sunderland and Brett Hite of FRENSHIP met when they were both working at a Lululemon. They started creating music together and, in 2016, their song “Capsize,” which featured Emily Warren, became huge.

Now, the band is on their first-ever headlining tour. We caught up with James to talk about the tour, new music, and how amazing of a city San Francisco is.

The Bay Bridged: How’s the tour going?

James Sunderland: It’s going pretty well! We’re four days in. We just had our third show in Nashville, and it was pretty good and I think it was our best one yet.

[We’ve got] 33 more to go, and I think we’ll improve upon it, but it’s going great! It’s a lot of fun.

This is our first big headlining tour, so it’s nice to get out there and finally tell the crowd that this is us and this is what we look like and feel like after being away for a while.

TBB: Does it feel really different to play as a headliner?

JS: Yeah, completely. As an opener, there’s no pressure on selling tickets. As a headliner we basically designed the set, we added a bunch of production and lights. We’re really doing a full reveal with this tour. It’s a ton more pressure.

If you don’t sell tickets, it’s your ass on the line. It’s not harder, you’re just a lot busier. There’s no free time during the day. You pretty much just wake up, float in, [do] sound check, and do some press, meet people, say “Hi,” and then get a quick bite. Do your show and then you’re out at the next city.

TBB: Can we expect a full album from you soon?

JS: No date set yet, but we have a pretty big body of work ready to go. For now we’re just going to be releasing singles. We’ll have singles out like once a month for a while. Probably later this year we’ll put out a bigger body of work. We’ve got some collaborations coming up too. We’ve got some songs with Bastille and some other people — I can’t say just yet.

It should be just a year of a ton of music for us. It should be a really fun year for us.

TBB: Do you feel like your music has changed a lot since your EP Truce?

JS: I think so. So much time has passed since we put out that EP that I think it’s changed pretty drastically. There’s still those common threads, but I think what’s coming is a bit more mature.

We’re getting older and making older music. I think it’s better suited for a live show, and it’s kind of made with our show in mind. [Compared to] “Capsize,” we weren’t a live band yet. [We] just made it digitally, and if it sounds good there, it sounds good there. That’s kind of all you thought about. Now I think we’re finding ourselves considering the live show a lot more in the writing process. So, I think the songs definitely sound different and they translate better to our live show.

TBB: What music are you listening to from other artists?

JS: I’ve been listening to [show opener] Yoke Lore ever since I saw him play. He’s great. I’ve been listening to Sasha Sloan a little bit. I’ve been listening to Sigrid — I love her she’s great. I listen to BEAR HANDS every once in a while. I listen to Post Malone here and there too. I’m kind of all over the place.

[I listen to] a little Tom Petty on the road. Every time we hit the road Tom Petty somehow finds his way into my playlist.

TBB: What are you looking forward to the most?

JS: I think we’re really excited to hopefully step past “Capsize” a little bit. I think this next batch of music is a better representation of where we want to be in a year or two, and the sound we want to portray. I think it’s really exiting to give the audience a full reveal, a full statement, a full picture of who we are. Hopefully in about half a year to a year’s time, people will have a better idea of who we are.

I’m looking forward to a lot of stuff! There’s some big shows coming up. I think San Francisco’s about to be a sellout. That’ll be a great show! I’m very excited about that one. That’s one of our favorite cities to play.

TBB: Artists often say that when I go to shows in the city, and I always wonder if they really mean it.

JS: [laughs] There’s probably some BS in there. But you guys are one of our best markets actually, and our quickest market to sell tickets. We played Outside Lands in 2017, and I think it was one of our best sets we’ve ever had, and one of the most supportive crowds we’ve ever experienced. It actually is one of my favorite cities. I was born in Berkeley, so I’m San Francisco at heart.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

The Independent
May 8, 2018
8pm, $18