There is one important person who was inadvertently omitted from the liner note thank-yous of Frankie McQueen’s new album, Nightride. Bella, the steadfast touring van for the band was mistakenly forgotten and FM is sick about it. The oversight was rectified by her appearance in the form of a painstakingly created photograph for the album art — the boys put a lot of themselves into the making of that photo.
It’s that feeling of brotherhood that has brought this band through the trials and tribulations of things like lineup changes and contest wins and creative differences and out the other side to become a stripped down three-piece with one hell of a live presence.
After winning the New Cap Radio Rock Star competition in 2009, which resulted in a large cash prize towards their self-titled EP, the band underwent a very significant journey into the creative minefield that is the modern music business.
“I think we got told a bunch of fancy things by people that were very appealing and it didn’t turn out that way,” guitarist and vocalist Scotty Charles recounts.
The resulting album was over-produced and over-wrought, and the hard-learned experience that resulted inspired a significant change of direction.
“We wanted to keep in some of the flaws, add a real sense of humanity to the record,” says Charles. “It was a bit more reckless. We approached it like, ‘Okay, we have today and nothing else planned, so let’s see what kind of noise we can make.’”
Drummer Connor Muth concurs: “There is a very generic way of recording rock music now that is really discouraging. So, I think, for us, we really wanted to find a way to distance ourselves from that a bit. A lot of the rhythm tracks, the bass and drum, were done live off the floor. The guitars were done in one take.”
Part of the change of focus involved a major lineup change. Stripping the band down to a trio uncomplicated the creative process. Joining the band after the release of the debut EP was bassist Corey Adams, already a fan of the band with an innate understanding of what they brought to the table.
“I would go see their shows and I loved them, I thought they were awesome. And I’d buy the CD and take it home and listen to it and there was nothing offensive about it at all, it was very polished and clean and light and fluffy and it was like, ‘This isn’t the band I just saw.’ I feel like we’ve gotten that criticism a lot and we set out to record an album that reflects what we sound like when we are onstage.”
Without oppressive production influence in the studio, the band was able to experiment and find their sound. Following whims such as crumpling tin foil and slowing it down, playing the guitar with a bow or torturing the strings with a metal file, the band had reign to follow their instincts. The resulting EP is a raw and blistering, captured in the studio for the first time.
The band gives a great deal of credit to producer Kirill Telichev for the open creative atmosphere.
“Kirill had a really awesome vision and just helped us get it out. Rather than last time, where there was one person kind of steering the ship,” says Charles. “We’re back to the point where we’re writing without intention and making sure that we’re always gonna be buddies and we’re always gonna have fun.”
The boys will begin a 30-date Western Canada tour with a CD release show at The Gateway on June 13th. They are also hitting up the brand new Tail Creek Festival in Alex, AB this summer, which alongside shows in Kelowna and Vancouver. The bouncing around on the highway is made possible by the aforementioned Bella, a 1993 Chevy Beauville adorned with a “Child Development Centre” decal from its previous home.
“So, no one’s ever gonna rob our van,” jokes Muth.
The fourth McQueen, Bella is part of the overall atmosphere of loyalty and gumption that makes Frankie such an appealing project to back. Palpable onstage as well as in the recording, this is a band that is doing it for the love of it.
Frankie McQueen will release their upcoming EP at the Gateway on June 13.
By Jennie Orton