Friday, July 13, 2007

Mini-Interview: Frankel

While the rest of the country catches up to the likes of Great Northern, The Silversun Pickups, and Sea Wolf, audiences here have been enjoying the next wave of great new LA bands –- acts like The Switch, Radars to the Sky, The Deadly Syndrome, Frankel, and more.

We recently spoke with Frankel’s lead Michael Orendy, who has been playing out several dates in town in support of his new album, Lullabies For The Passerby.

Hey, Michael. How are you doing today? Hot enough for you?

Hey there, Joe. I’m doing just fine, thanks. This heat is dreadful. I’m counting the days until my beloved sweater weather returns. Perhaps Al Gore might be onto something.

Flavorpill recently called you a "staple of the local indie scene." What bands were you in the past?

My last band was called Meow Meow, which was a local noise-pop band. We made a record called Snow Gas Bones and then recorded enough material for two more albums that has yet to see the light of day. We all sang and switched off on instruments. Those guys are supremely talented musicians and great friends of mine.

Before that, I played bass in a three-piece shoegazer called Athalia with Paul Larson, who now has a very good band called The Minor Canon.

Then how and why did you start up Frankel?

I'd been writing songs and 4-track recording as long as I can remember. It’s always been my preferred way to spend time rather than watching television or completely tuning out. The cassette tapes were starting to block the exits and it got to the point where I no longer had a choice in the matter. I had some kind encouragement from those around me to start getting this stuff out there. It started as a recording project, where I was playing all the instruments.

You began just as a one-man band, correct? And then added a backing band more recently?

Yep, it’s been a solo operation until these past few months. For the last two years, I’ve been doing solo shows playing guitar and/or piano. For awhile I was doing a lot of on-the-fly looping with my voice and a couple of instruments.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to have some good friends playing this music with me. It’s been great to hear other people interpret the songs and see it all come to life. We’ve been doing a bunch of shows to promote new LP and it’s really coming together.

Why the name "Frankel?"

When I was in grade school, I had to wear this giant piece of orthodontia called a frankel. To say it was awkward is the understatement of the year.

Any attempts to speak while wearing it sounded like Kenny from South Park. I’m sure it’s illegal now-a-days (except for Texas) and kids are no longer subjected to such cruel devices of torture. (I think I hear small violins playing right now).

Anyway, I think naming my project Frankel is some sort of weird therapy.

How did your first EP come together?

A few years ago I put together the bare essentials of a recording studio. I took some 4-track ideas and dumped them into my computer to expand on them.

That said, I kept it fairly simple with acoustic guitar and piano being the focus point of each song. Everything was done with one inexpensive microphone and a few instruments and toys around my apartment. I put six songs on a CD and sent it out to a few friends. Nyles Lannon (Film School, N. Lannon) passed it along to Three Ring Records, who asked if they could put it out. Um, sure.

You recorded your new album Lullabies for the Passersby that with Earlimart's Aaron Espinoza at The Ship, right?

Actually, I recorded the bulk of this album with Raymond Richards at Red Rockets Glare. It’s a very cozy studio in Rancho Park with a bunch of vintage gear.

Aaron mixed the entire record at The Ship, which was a great experience. He has a patient ear for detail and was able to find places for all of my little noises/loops. We got along like peas and carrots. He also introduced me to Dave Trumfio (Wilco, Grandaddy), who mastered the album.

How's the new material different from the EP?

The new album is, sonically, much bigger. I had more confidence this time and was more adventurous with the arrangements and production. Also, Norm Block (Plexi) played the drums, which really brought these songs to life.

Musically, there’s more of a range between upbeat and the moody stuff. I’m still very proud of the EP, but it was written and recorded during a darker time of my life.

What next for you, now that the album is out?

We’ve been concentrating on playing out as much as possible around town. It’s been a good chance to play shows with friends and figure out what songs translate best in a live venue. We’ll be stretching out to some other cities toward the fall.

Last question: What other current LA bands are you enjoying right now?

The Parson Redheads, Nico Stai, Mezzanine Owls, Everest, The Spires, Amnion, Angela Correa, Western States Motel, The Broken West...I’m forgetting a bunch.

That's it. Thanks for your time.

Thank you, good sir.

Frankel will play next here in LA at Tangier on July 19th with Western States Motel, at Spaceland on July 26th with Patrick Park, and on August 13th at Bordello with I Make This Sound.

- Thermostat MP3
- Tooth Decay MP3


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