Top Rated Artists
Albums of the Year
with Frank Lenz
by Rob from -
Frank Lenz is an amazing
drummer/producer. He has worked on some of my favorite albums, such
as Plankeyes "Relocation", The Dingees "Sundown To
Midnight", Cushs "EP", etc. He recently released a
phenomenal 70s soul/disco album entitled "The Hot Stuff".
I got a chance to chat with him about it while he was in his studio.
Here is what was said.
Rob - The story inside the booklet as well as one of the themes
of your record is that of the Indiots and the Kool Police. Do they
represent pop music, record executives, or do they represent someone
else? Frank - I have come to
hate that word and sort of regret putting it on there. The idea of
the Kool Police and the Indiots are just, I had these songs that
were musically serious to me because I was tired of doing just indie
rock all the time. Although I am a big fan and it is part of what I
do, but I wanted to do this record that is reminiscent of music that
I dug when I was younger. The responses that I got from some of the
people that were the cool people that I know, you know the ones that
know about bands six months before you do, and a lot of the
responses were, "Gosh Frank, why are you doing this goofy
music?" And that is sort of it; it was just kind of shocking
that people who love music would be so adamant that I am doing
something different that is not "Of the norm". So that is
where that came from and again, it is not a great record. It is a
good, fine, OK record, but I just wanted to make a statement outside
of the regular old indie rock/indie pop. So that is where that came
Rob - Is it kind of almost a partial rage against the industries
definition of cool? Frank -
Not so much a rage against the industrys assumption of cool, just
because I could care less what the industry thought was cool,
because they are so crazy. Anyone that runs a record label or works
for a record label in some sort of artist development is an idiot.
They are all wrong. They dictate and choose what music the kids or
America are going to listen to, basically they are in bed with MTV.
So it doesnt matter what they think is cool, I just wanted to make
good pop music for people who wanted to hear good pop music.
Rob - With the record, are you trying to kick against what you
have done before? Because all of the stuff Ive seen you do before
has been stuff like Fold Zandura and The Dingees and stuff all in
the alternative/punk scene. Is it kind of you kicking against that?
Frank - I wouldnt say it is me kicking
against that, more than it is me not wanting to be typecast as any
one type of musician and or writer. I mean even now as soon as I
finished the record, I just finished a new EP that I am going to put
out that has nothing to do with "The Hot Stuff," there are
no 70s jams. Only because I sort of want to break free from the
class struggle of pop music. I dont want it to be under anyones
label weather it be pop, rock, punk rock, and especially doing some
of the Christian rock stuff, I dont want to be labeled as any of
those; I just want to make music that is cool and if people dig it
then its cool and if they dont then whatever.
Rob - A lot of the people that I have talked to about doing this
interview, when I told them that I was going to interview you, they
responded with "whos that" or something to that effect.
After I told them some of the records youve played drums on and done
stuff for, they normally ask "so hes just a drummer guy?"
Do you feel that you have gotten a reputation just as a drummer or…Frank
- I guess, I mean its hard to have a reputation when no one really
knows who you are. I play on records for a living. I play on
everything from Plankeye to playing on demos for Natalie Imbruglia I
mean I do everything. Its not that Im a really well known guy and I
think that the only reason that anyone knows who I am is that I used
tour with Fold Zandura and it was a small trio and I kind of had to
overplay in to compensate for their being only three guys and a
whole lot of music on tracks. A shorter answer would be, yeah,
people do think of me as just a drummer. But even here with my
friends who I work with all the time, they think of me as not only a
drummer but a drummer who does this or a drummer who does that. And
Ill come in and arrange a horn part and all of a sudden Im the
drummer that arranges horn parts and then Im the drummer that does
this or that so yeah, you know thats the way it goes.
Rob - How long have you been thinking of doing a record on your
own for? Frank - I started
writing songs actually only about 4 years ago. And I wrote really
really terrible songs. I just tried to write better songs. Actually
I spent three days in the green room studio out here, because I was
house sitting. And I was fed up with the music I was listening to
and I put on some older records and just sort of ripped it all off.
I mean I like the record, its just not the greatest thing in the
world its just sort of a fun good jam. Its not a record of
songwriting songs, its just 40 minutes of just jams.
Rob The record is mostly 70s soul, is that what you are into?
Rob What type of music do you like and what artists inspire you?
Frank I like everything. As of lately
Ive been listening to… thats a terrible question because I can
never remember what Ive been listening to. Ill tell you whats in the
CD player: Tom Waits "Franks Wild Years", Godspeed
"Black Emperor", theres an Air record, the new Stereolab,
Elliot Smith "Xo" thats what Ive been listening to lately.
But I guess whats been inspiring me is just good pop. Thats why
myself and most people I know, we fall back to things that have
happened in the past. I think its a trap that people fall into only
listening to "Pet Sounds" over and over again.
Rob "Pet Sounds" is such a great album though.
Frank It is, but it becomes clich頴hat
someone who is into "indie" music as a songwriter and
doesnt want to be some huge guy on Warner Bros. Can credit these
records. But the reality is they are the best pop music written.
Simon & Garfunkels "Bookends" you are hard pressed to
find a better pop record than that. And it is the essence and soul
of pop music. Pop music has been through so many changes from Perry
Como to Frank Sinatra to the influence of black music that its hard
to pinpoint what pop is. But if you are a lover of pop music it is a
mixture of things that is accessible yet touching and moves you. I
mean even things like "Moon River" by… I cant remember
right now, people think it is a cheesy song but if you listen to it
is absolutely gorgeous.
Rob Have you noticed almost a trend in which indie bands claim
artist like The Beatles or The Beach Boys or Simon & Garfunkel
as their main influences? Frank
- I think it is like a clich鬠as
I said before. But it becomes clich鬠if
someone claims someone like The Beatles as an influence and you hear
some bulls*&$ like 976 hero and it is just dreadful, you end up
thinking, man what Beatles record did you buy? Like where did you
find that? If you listen to a band like Flaming Lips, you can find
Rob Like Starflyer Frank
Yeah, every pop song will always have a Beatles reference. The white
album alone stands… you know, every bit of great music you ever
hear in pop. But yeah I think it can be clich鮼/p>
Rob You get bands like Zao and stuff like that are claiming The
Beatles and its like… Frank
Yeah, what the hell, where could you possibly reference that.
Rob What do you think of Limp Bizkits touring across America
having kids sign their songs over to them as a "tryout"
for the band? Frank I think
they are brilliant. I think anyone who can get away with it should,
because anyone who is stupid enough to give that kind of music away
deserves for it to be stolen. So I salute them.
Rob Your wife works for Metro One right? Frank
Yes she does.
Rob Why did you decide to go with Northern Records instead of
Metro One for your record? Did you go with Northern because of Cush
or… Frank No, Metro One is
strictly a Christian music label and Northern Records when I talked
to them, because I have been working with them for a while between
Cush and producing records, but when I talked to them it was
actually about a publishing thing and I told them I had this idea
for a record. And Im not one of those grandstanders that say I hate
Christian music, Christian rock is gay, blah, blah, blah… I just
decided that Im not going to do it. But if we can find a way to
start putting out records that are not for the Christian market then
great. So Northern Records is sort of, I think they are signing a
couple of other bands that arent Christian bands also, so thats why.
I mean, Metro One, what could they do with "The Hot
Rob You are a part of Cush right? Frank
Rob What is Cush? Frank
Cush is pretty much close to what the manifesto says it is.
Rob Which is… Frank And
the manifesto says that it is pretty music, a community of musicians
that put aside ego to make great music and also there is an element
of worshipping God in it. So it tries to be that at all times, but
sometimes it fails. But that is also part of the manifesto that we
are human beings and we screw up. But the next Cush record is so far
Andy and Eric writing songs. Its going to be a little different this
time. They are going to write the jams and Im going to get pieces of
it and Im going to put my flavor. But it is going to be the same
concept, where everyone has their own and equal say in the project.
Rob The new EP is really cool. Frank
Its my favorite man, I think the new EP is just jamming.
Rob You said you have a new EP you are working on? Frank
Yeah, I just finished it. I think Northerns putting it out. I know
they are going to put it out, but I dont know when.
Rob What does it sound like? Frank
After going so mellow on "The Hot Stuff its pretty epic I
Rob Do you have any plans to tour your solo projects at all?
Frank The only shows that are happening
are around town live at different clubs. Ill tour if people buy the
record. Im not going to go on tour to support a record no one is
Rob What do you have for advice for people who want to become
studio musicians? Frank Oh,
gosh. In that specific area, if you want to become a musician that
sort of survives in the studio to make money, dont because you will
not. It is just not going to happen. But if youve dreamt about
making a record in the studio, or if youve been in the studio making
a record and you love it; then make sacrifices. Dont get married.
Try to find odd jobs that will support you while you are working in
the studio. Make friends with anyone that works in a recording
studio. Make friends with the engineers. Hang out, if you are in a
city that has an active music scene get up off youre a*^ and meet
people. And the most important thing is that you always have to be
prepared, you always have to be so good that you can step into a
situation and kick a whole lot of a*&.
Rob Are you working with the Green Room right now? Frank
On and off.
Rob Is that mostly Chris Colbert? Frank
Yeah, Chris is in charge of that. He is in charge of the Green Room
and he makes bad music sound good.
Rob How did Gene Eugenes death affect you? Frank
It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I wasnt real
super close friends with him, but I was there when he died and I
watched him and that was a little bit harrowing. It affected me…
Rob What is your favorite record of all time? Frank
See man, you cant ask that, because it changes every minute. Ill
tell you what the best record of all time is that I can think of
that Im listening to right now. And the only way I could do that is
to look at my CD collection. And that is, Nick Drake "Five
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