Frankie Teardrop: We got to play for a lot of different people and we didn't kill each other
Photo By Erik Hess
Frankie Teardrop remains one of the most exciting characters to emerge from the local music scene in the past year, largely due to the fact that he's just that -- a character. Conjured by the twisted mind of songwriter and guitarist Jordan Bleau, Frankie has grown into a larger-than life persona, characterized by his monochromatic tall-tees, omnipresent Ray-Bans, gold chain, and cocky slacker attitude. But while the Frankie Teardrop identity once stood for a nihilistic rejection of basically everything, he's evolved in the wake of the band's recent tours to become a people's champion for the underground indie-rock community.
Teaming up with photographer Alex Uhrich, Frankie/Bleau is launching a record label called No Problem in an attempt to give some shine to the hardworking and talented bands they surround themselves with. We caught up with Frankie and his band before their release show for his new EP, Raiders, behind the Triple Rock to discuss the recent tours and their plans for our upcoming 10 Thousand Sounds Festival.
Gimme Noise: So, last time we caught up with you guys, you were a three-piece. Who's the new fella and how did he get involved?
Frankie Teardrop (vocals and guitar): That's my boy Dan, Cool Ranch, nicknamed Tom, Tommy. He's a good guy, nice boy, solid attitude. He came to all the shows and knew all the songs, suddenly knew all our friends. He's from the same place that I'm from but we never knew each other, but he started coming to all the shows and I was like, "you know what, I might add another guitar player so I think I might ask this guy." And he came to the practice and just played all the songs right, and now he's in the band or whatever.
Gunnar Kauth (drums): He had a good distortion pedal.
Frankie: He did have nice pedal. We always needed two guitars; on all the recordings I play at least two to four guitars so we needed another person anyways so.
Why add to the group's lineup when the chemistry was already so good?
Frankie: Actually, I like him a lot and the other guys not as much.
Dan English (guitar): It's because I'm from Iowa. That's why he likes me so much, because I'm an Iowa boy.
Gunnar: They'll be just chilling one on one, and we'll hit them up and they just won't text us back.
Frankie: Well, when I find someone that's cooler than both of you guys, what the fuck do you expect me to do?
Gunnar: We just did two tours, we dud a big tour to the East Coast and a little Midwest tour with Dan and it worked out pretty fine. He didn't disappear into the night, and he's generally a good guy, pretty healthy. He eats healthy on the road. He helped us find the clean bathrooms.
Frankie: Healthy boy...strong boy.... He's got fucked up pinkies though. Like, if you shake his hand, it's effed up kinda. [Dan Demonstrates] It's fuckin' weird.
Dan: It doesn't affect my playing at all, like, when I play, it's out here until I need it, then it's in here!
Frankie: He's like fuckin' Django Rhinehardt except way tighter. With way cooler shoes.
You guys have been really active this year, releasing a couple of videos and going on a couple of tours. Let's talk about the tours!
Frankie: They were sick, very tight. It was cool going to all these places on the East Coast with Howler, I personally had never been to any of those places, so it was cool, man. We got to play for a lot of different people and we didn't kill each other. We got pissed at each other, but that's just part of the fuckin' deal. I'm a hard guy to deal with, every one of us is a hard guy to deal with, so you know, you get it. You can't get away from people in that environment. But all the shows were good. I mentioned this in passing at shows and stuff, but Holyoke, Massachusets was terrifying. Our guy Rob that booked that show is fucking tight, cool amps, cool band, cool guy, but that place is fucking scary.
Gunnar: It's a nightmare, devilish trip dude, it was wild.
Frankie: So we're leaving Holyoke and we pull up to this McDonald's to fucking get McChickens, like normal, and we like go up to the window, and Gunnar's taking forever to order because he thinks that type of shit is funny.
Gunnar: It was funny.
Frankie: Yeah, whatever, see, he still thinks it's funny. So we pull up to the window and we're like, about to get the shit, and we hear this...what did they say?
[chorus of FUUUUUUUUUCKKK!!!!!]
Like full volume bloodcurdling scream from inside. And we're like "what do we do?" I wanted to stay because I wanted a fucking McChicken and they were all like "GO GO GO GO LET'S DIP!" It was just terrible, because after that scary show we felt really uncomfortable and then that happened, and then we ran into this huge storm and had to stay in New Jersey or some shit.
Gunnar: We were in New Haven, Connecticut.
Frankie: But other than that, all the shows were great, it was cool to go play different places, and the last tour with Mean Jeans was super fuckin' fun, those guys are double twisted constantly, they have like 20 beers per hour.
Gunnar: Fucked up dude, but they sold out Chicago.
Frankie: Sold out on a Monday night at like a 250 capped venue, and Milwaukee was packed and Iowa City was really good, that's where Dan's from and I've got people back there so, it was good man. It's nice to know that you can go other places and be appreciated and not fuck it up.
Gunnar: Yeah, and punks love us on the road, too. We play with a lot of really weird punk bands, and normally because we write songs that aren't three chords or whatever, well, some of them are.
Frankie: Most of 'em are three to four.
Gunnar: We almost write pop songs, right? So normally, that doesn't go over well, but people were super nice. We met this dude Bob in Chicago, shouts out to Bob. He had this anti-iTunes tattoo. Like, who isn't into iTunes?
Frankie: Jack [Woolsey, bassist] is a Microsoft Zune guy! I'm not that into iTunes, I'm more into releasing it yourself and pay what you want on Bandcamp. That's probably what I'll always do forever.
Let's talk about the process for your new EP, Raiders.
Frankie: I recorded everything, like last time. I played all the instruments on it, I recorded them like, last year, and I meant to put something up a lot sooner, that's kind of why I put "Bling Item" out was just to put something out a little sooner. I recorded everything at my practice space and Dan played a little guitar on one track, called "100%" and Ian Nygaard sang some backing vocals on some of the songs, but I did everything else. I recorded it, I mixed it and sent it to this guy in Arizona to master it, and I'm fucking pumped about it. I'm glad to be done with it, I'm glad to put it out and have that chapter of songwriting style kind of close, I think I'm gonna take it in a different direction in the future. I got some stuff cookin' and I'm gonna probably start recording that in the next couple of weeks, just trying to keep it moving.
Your Tough Guy EP uses these sort of overt, braggadocio lyrics to mask underlying themes of self-hatred, doubt, and frustration. Did that change at all for Raiders?
Frankie: The songs are a lot more direct and honest and it's not veiled behind jokes and metaphors as much. It's more just like plain language, and it talks about some of the same shit, a lot of the themes are basically dealing with relationships and not being able to navigate them, essentially. Just being pissed off at life and stuff like that, I think that I a rep that I'm like, a sad guy or whatever but I'm really stoked. The songs are all anthems, they just are. They're big songs musically, but all the lyrics are about self hate and dealing with love and dealing with dependency and stuff like that.