I’d like to thank the three of you for agreeing to take the precious time to do this interview, I’ve been a fanboy (at 50) of your band since the begining and have enjoyed watching you grow and evolve in your sound. I’m not much of an interviewer, but I thought I would get an early jump on being the first to interview y’all in the states (maybe the first English interview…this is also my first “band” interview, it’s been individuals up to this point). In case people have done something stupid, like not read this blog and know that Frankie Frankie has been on the radar around here, I think introductions are in order…
photo by Nadja Hallström
Greeting guy and gals! Sweden? A place I would love to visit someday. What’s it like to live and play music in Sweden?
Lisa Bass: Well, I guess the boredom and isolation in Sweden spurs creativity (at best). It is dark and raw and moist (most of the year) and kind of lonely if you are not a very sociable person. It kind of leaves you (or at least me) with no option to do anything else except for writing music, or writing in general. That said, there are many great things about Sweden. Spring (if it’s a good spring, weather wise) is the best, summer too (again if it’s good weather wise). You never know, since the weather (if nothing else) is very unpredictable here. So, I’m thinking that maybe this unpredictable thing is good for creativity, that: “you never know”- thing. Like everywhere, it seems, it’s getting harder and harder to get gigs. We talk about “den stora kulturdöden” (the great death of culture): Venues are closing. Well-off people living in the city are complaining about noise. Sadly, their complaints are often heard. Gentrification, I guess you would call it. However, we try to remain optimistic, thinking that a change got to come at some point.
We would very much like for you to come to Sweden, maybe you could shake some action into this “perfect” country choking on its own self gratitude 😉
Karl: Lisa sums it up really well. I just want to stress that the lonesome Swede may sometimes enjoy the company of like-minded souls. The venue-situation aside, you have a lot of people playing, in basements, old factory buildings, but also more “official” (and maybe also more heartless) locations provided by the different so-called “Studieförbund”. These organizations date back to the social democratic worker’s movement. In the spirit of folk education, they actually give you money for getting together and play, as long as you keep track of meetings and hand them receipts for expenses (e.g. rent, if you have your own studio like us). A great thing that keep music alive, albeit with an institutional flavor that is not always compatible with rock n roll values.
photo by Nadja Hallström
How did you three beautiful people come to play together?
Lisa Bass: Thanks, right back at ya! We go way back. At least ten years! We started out as Wild Fields (a more traditional heartland rock act of which we are very proud). We tried out several drummers (all douche bags, is that a drummer thing?), before Lisa showed up and saved us. Lisa is as far from a douche bag that you can imagine. Wild Fields were active for several years, we gigged a lot and right when we were closing in to somewhat of a breakthrough (we think), the bass player at the time announced that he was moving to Estonia for work. So that was it. He left. After months and months of trying to get back to that great feeling we used to have together, this time with a new bass player, me and Karl left the ship and moved to Utrecht in The Netherlands for six months (Utrecht is a cozy city close to Amsterdam, but so much better since you don’t have to put up with ultra-drunk and high British and American tourists 😉). We studied, or yeah, I guess you could call it studying (many great thanks btw to the EU Erasmus program for the chance to learn first-hand about Dutch party culture). Anyway, when we got back Lisa had managed to get a contract on a studio where we had earlier recorded a live ep. I have to say that the studio was a necessary thing happening to us. After the depressing ending of the once great Wild Fields I felt through with it, playing music in a band just seemed like a hassle that was always disappointing in the end. When the new bass player, that we never really connected with, left for Canada we faced a new challenge since none of us wanted to bring in new people to the band. So, it was at that point that I decided to pick up the bass. It took some time before we were back on track.
Karl: I just want to add that Frankie Frankie, more so than Wild Fields, overlaps with my music preferences more than Wild Fields did. I like many types of music but “the 90’s altrock flirting with metal and punk”-thing we got going suits me very well. With just three members it feels like we can do more of what each of us want to do. There is more room for expression, I think.
Lisa Drums: Back in 2010, Karl contacted me through an online community for musicians asking me if I wanted to play drums with Wild Fields (a band serious enough to have an actual band name!?). I had just left my boyfriend at the time and the very short lived band that we played in (without a band name) had split up. So I met with Karl and Lisa, and the other Wild Fields members Hjalmar and Leo. We all had very different personalities, and different musical preferences, but at the same time it all made perfect sense. And not only did I find a band to play in, I also ended up meeting the love of my life, Kalle, who is Bass Lisas’ brother. He came to our shows, we met at different parties and fell in love.
Frankie Frankie (I can’t for the life of me remember what name you went by before)? Any other names you thought about using? What’s the story behind the name?
Lisa Bass: Well, when you’re sitting there trying to come up with a great band name you soon realize that all your great ideas for band names are already taken. It’s stressful. Google does that. Our trio was first called Our Scenes (a bad band name, hard to pronounce, not meaning anything really). Thankfully, we realized that and started to go through our long list of possible band names (well, some, most of them, were on the list just for fun, like: Laktrits där bak, translated as “licorice in the rear” or Dr. Babo Bay, or Ägg nio “the ninth egg”) or Skanktank. However, Frankie Frankie was on that same list. I guess originally, it’s from that haunting Suicide tune Frankie Teardrop. Then we realized that a lot of fucked up characters in popular culture goes by the name of Frankie (that Springsteen tune on Nebraska “got a brother named Frankie well he just aint no good). Frankie is also a unisex name, so it’s kind of liquid/genderless. We also had the idea that by repeating Frankie, people wouldn’t get it wrong (because we experienced that with Wild Fields: white fields, wild field, white feels etc.) Funny thing is that we were recently contacted by and Australian band who was wondering if it was ok for them to name their band Wild Fields. We said: well ok … but beware. However, Spotify does get Frankie Frankie wrong, Word does get it wrong. Assuming it’s a typo when you’re repeating the same word. I think Google does too. So yeah. You can’t prepare for everything.
Karl: I’m glad we went with Frankie Frankie. Scary enough, I back then had to stress that I was not at all up for the name “Ägg nio”. Luckily, I convinced the other two…
Lisa Bass: Ha ha ha I think we were joking, most of the time (at least I was 😉) Were you serious Lisa?
Lisa Drums: Ha ha, I actually liked the sound of ”Ägg nio” and it made us laugh hysterically… Maybe we should have gone for it!
photo by Stina Norberg & Ylva Ekeram
Individually what are your backrounds in music, why play music? What are your inspirations? Who do y’all listen to? Who’s spinning on your turntable?
Lisa Bass: I come from a home where music is central. There’s always some record spinning on the turntable. I guess, without crediting my father too much in the fact that I am me and have my own agency, that it has been important that he is a musician himself. He’s always been in a band (and my mom played in a band when she was young). When I was thirteen, when that pubescent loneliness came creeping in, I picked up the guitar. Spending hours in my room, just playing, trying to figure out how the hell other people wrote songs. The irony is that, even if I at the time listened to a lot of punk bands with the DIY nerve, I never in my wildest imagination thought I would be able to write a song of my own.
On my turntable, (or at least on my Spotify account since I don’t have most of my favorite records on vinyl, yet, sadly, boo hoo) currently The Lemonheads and Evan Dando (even named our new cat Evan). I am absolutely obsessed. Some months back I listened solely to Warren Zevon (my number one artist on Spotify 2019, 73 hours I think). Before that it was Weezer, Nada Surf and before that, Springsteen. Even further back The Clash and a lot of British 77 punk. I get addicted, like I have to read every interview, check every YouTube clip, every music vid. But, being obsessed … It’s almost as if something other than me is forcing me into this compulsion. I guess it’s a good thing. I always manage to write songs from all that. It’s inspirational being a complete lunatic at times. And it’s important to hear other people sing about anxieties or loneliness that you yourself are experiencing, it makes you feel less lonely.
Karl: Since Lisa (bass) and I live together, I get to listen to what she listens to and vice-versa. Lisa has helped me discover a lot of different kinds of music like new-wave and punk. I don’t search for new music like she does. When I take charge of the song-queue I usually put on a lot of the stuff I listened to when I was younger. I still love Maiden and Priest but also old-school metal like Zeppelin. I also like heavier stuff, like Testament and Entombed. I had a grunge phase back when I were in my late teens. Soundgarden comes on quite often. I also had a blues phase – Stevie Ray Vaughn is killer. More interestingly, maybe, is that I lately have kept coming back to old American music. Eddie Cochran, Sam Cooke, The Ink Spots, Isley Brothers are all cool. Cajun music too sometimes. Even opera and classical. Not jazz so much.
Lisa Drums: I started taking drum lessons at the age of 9. My teacher was German and there was a lot of technical practice and playing notes (including some march music, of course). I’m really glad my parents encouraged me to keep playing, even when I was about to give up (playing a beat that includes sixteenth notes on the kick drum just ain’t that easy to learn).
I kind of miss the way we used to listen to music before Spotify. You’d listen to the same records over and over, study the cover art and lyrics. Born in the mid 80s I grew up listening to Tom Petty, Madonna and Roxette. In the 90s there was a lot of pop and dance music. Playing drums in different rock bands from a young age, rock music in different forms has always been present as well. Today I listen to a lot of indie and alternative rock music, which of course influences my contribution in Frankie Frankie. Some of my favorite bands are Metric, Arcade Fire (their early stuff), The Strokes, Sonic Youth, Bloc Party (love playing along to Silent Alarm)… From time to time I also listen to electronic (pop) music, like Grimes and Metronomy.
I was stumped on questions to ask you and a great pal of mine sugested this…How does you faiblesse for New Wave of British Heavy Metal affect FFs music? 🙂
Lisa Bass: This is Karl’s question obviously.
Karl: I love NWOBHM, not only for the intensity of arrangement and tempo, or the naivety of the melodies and song themes, but also for the other-worldly harmonies created through the use of a twin-lead guitar setup á la Maiden and Priest (not technically NWOBHW). I have to get creative on this point, being the case that I am the sole guitarist of Frankie Frankie – which I also like for a bunch of reasons. Anyway, I often add additional chords to Lisa’s bass playing to extend the melodic range of our songs. In the song “Turning Into Ourselves”, for instance – on Soundcloud since long but currently undergoing re-recording – I use really fat quarter-notes (I think it is) in the second half of the chorus. It sounds by no means like Maiden, but my love for the genre is what drove me to do such a thing, I think.
photo by Stina Norberg & Ylva Ekeram
What’s the process on coming up with your tunes?
Lisa Bass: Well, as mentioned before, a lot of inspiration comes from other bands and musicians, but also literature. It comes from being a human being who needs to be creative to function. Also, living in Sweden when it’s winter or fall and you just feel you have to get away someplace else, is important to writing. The songwriting for me always happens after a complete emotional breakdown. I might write when I’m feeling down, but really, I can’t do anything with it until I’m feeling better. Usually, I have some idea with lyrics and chords and we try it out in the studio together. Everyone gets to do their part and color it the way they see fit. It usually turns out really good.
Karl: I write out of necessity. In my previous bands, no-one wanted to write so I did it. With Wild Fields and Frankie Frankie that changed with Lisa (Bass). She is a really competent songwriter. She has things to say. When I write it always gets political, and I’m not even that interested in politics or activism. I don’t know what that is about. I love taking one of Lisa’s ideas and spin it, add a cool riff or suggest additional parts. With Lisa’s (Drums) ideas we can enjoy a nice creative process together. That’s what I’m good at. When I write stuff on my own I always make it too complicated and unpersonal.
Lisa Drums: Lisa is such a talented song writer (and poet which you’ll hear if you listen to her lyrics). And Karl is great at coming up with crazy riffs and licks on that guitar. I just love being part of the creative process. Usually it’s Lisa presenting an idea with vocals and guitar/bass and then we’ll work on it together as a band. Some of our songs just sort of write themselves as we play (I think that’s what happened with Supernaturally Yours) and other songs need more work. Sometimes if we’ve struggled with a song for a long time and making things too complicated, we’ll just go back to that first recording that Lisa made on her phone, trying to find the essence of that song.
I don’t imagine you are making enough at this point to live off your music, how do each of make ends meet? Do you even plan to make this a career?
Lisa Bass: You are right. We make close to zero. I have recently written a novel and hope that someone someday will be interested in my writing. That’s kind of my dream. Besides that, I work every other weekend as a translator for a media company (I have never met my employer, never talked to them on the phone, strictly email communication if any communication at all. It’s weird). I am happily married to the guitarist and thank god; Karl has a real actual job.
Karl: I’m fortunate enough to be a PhD student in social work. I’m into philosophy, which I try to incorporate in my research. It’s hard work. I get frustrated a lot (remember, I don’t consider myself good at writing). I then love having the music to come back to. It’s very meditative. What makes music fun is that there is not so much pressure. I actually enjoy having it as a hobby and not more than that. But sure, it would be cool to do it all day long – or would it? I wouldn’t know.
Lisa Drums: I’m an engineer and I work at a pharmaceutical company right now. It can be pretty stressful at times, especially for a sensitive soul like myself. Luckily I have super sweet colleagues (and friends) at work. My boss Henrik has been really supportive. He even comes to our shows and he’s made some great live videos (I’ll post the links below). It’s great to have that kind of support.
photo by Stina Norberg & Ylva Ekeram
Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
Lisa Bass: We have played in Lund, Veberöd, Klippan, Säljeryd, Karlshamn, Malmö (in the vicinity really) but we also played Stockholm this summer. We have not been blessed enough to develop favourite venues. And I also don’t want to talk shit about any venue here, because what if they read this and we never get booked again 😉 As of today, we got a gig at Plan B in Malmö!!! It’s a venue we have wanted to play for a long time now. Happy days! It’s located in an industrial area with a lot of shady car washes/dealers/mechanics. It’s a place you have no reason to visit if you’re not going to Plan B, unless you ARE a shady car dealer up to no good (maybe), that is. That said I think it’s a great location. It’s like it it’s not part of Sweden. It’s not tidy or correct. It’s liberating.
Do you collectively have a favorite song to play and is that different from what your fans consider your hit? Ever thought about doing a cover or have you already covered some tunes?
Lisa Bass: I don’t know. Do we? I love playing Turning into Ourselves which we will be rerecording this weekend. Don’t know if it’s my favourite tune per se, but it sure is fun to play. Supernaturally Yours (on Spotify) is very good but I hate playing it, we never seem to get it right.
Karl: Agree. Turning is my favourite, also, right now.
Lisa Drums: I also love Supernaturally Yours. We actually recorded the foundation of the song live (to later add vocals and extra guitars), I don’t know how we pulled it off, it just happened. Being With You is also a fave of mine, but we rarely play that one live either. Is This How It Ends? will be on our upcoming four track EP. It has some tempo changes which I looove to play.
photo by Stina Norberg & Ylva Ekeram
Is it all sex, drugs and rock and roll?
Lisa Bass: Well. I’m married to the guitarist. That’s all I have to say about that.
Karl: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe”
Not to get too deep, but how do you see yourselves? What are the challenges you face Social issues, where do you stand as Swedes and where do you stand as human being on this wonderful (maybe not) world we live in?
Lisa Bass: I guess we can consider ourselves lucky. Neither of us come from vulnerable areas (as they are called by the Swedish police). We are Swedish by birth, have parents who love us etc. I know that education has always been encouraged in our families. So yeah. I guess that part; becoming a responsible human being, not only in the face of others but also responsible for yourself, has maybe been easier for me/us than what it is for many.
In a wider perspective as a human being, that’s a tough one. I just hope that the world does not go down the shit hole completely. But if it does … and it looks kind of dark in some crucial aspects (while in others it looks better than ever, let’s not forget), I just hope that people find time, love and inspiration to follow their callings, and also maybe, I hope that everyone will listen to Frankie Frankie when doom’s day finally arrives and sweeps everything away. That would be cool … Ha ha… Oh, I just realized that Doom Theme was on that band name list.
I like the picture below because it has all three of you. It was taken in August of this year and as a snapshot in time, there must be a story behind it?
Lisa Bass: Haha I guess none of us know. He remains a mystery to us. However, he seemed to like our music. I really do hope Jesus comes back and shows himself to the guy.
Lisa Drums: The photo with the “Jesus guy” was taken by my father (also named Björn, last name Anderson) It’s from when we played at the Rock Stage in Malmo in August 2019.
Drums Lisa’s video is awesome…Lisa what can you tell me about it?
My boyfriend Kalle recorded us from different angles in the studio. Including some nice closeups of our instruments. We wanted some other elements in the video so I added some clips of animals doing OCD-like things as well as band members doing OCD things. Then I added some cool motorcycle footage (that’s my dad on the road) and some other stuff. I nearly went crazy in the editing process though, as I was working on a super slow computer. Then I bought a new Mac and everything worked out. Right now I’m working on a short trailer (like a mini documentary) which will be a teaser for our EP.
There is a Swedish D-Beat band Fuck Frankie…are they talking shit about you?
Lisa Bass: I didn’t know there were but Fuck Frankie then. Also: they’re free to talk shit about us, only good if someone talks about you. 😉
This may seem odd, but as a one time musician, tell me about your practice space, can you share a picture of it?
Lisa Drums: Actually, the Proxy video (and the song itself) was recorded in our practice space which is also a studio. Apart from the large space there is a control room and a song booth.
Thanx so much to the three of you not only for agreeing to do this here interview, but mainly for your creative output, for giving something wonderful to the world!
You can get more FF at their Spotify!
Videos by Henrik Lindblom
Live in Stockholm, video by Sofia Erixson