Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
New Jersey. The US of A. The music scene here is really good. We have a lot of talented people here in the North East, and a lot of music to listen to. You just have to look for it. I can’t say for other states, but it’s a little competitive in NJ. Music I think is meant to build a musical community, it goes further when that is in play. Lots of – this is mine, and this is also mine. We don’t like that philosophy. We try to keep the big door open as much as other will allow us to, and share our accomplishments with our peers and fellow musicians.
What is your name and role within Albert Savage?
My name is Mike Frank, and I write, sing, and play guitar in the group. I also bring the snacks.
How did you first start playing music?
My Father bought home a guitar from a yard sale when I was a pup, and he played in a country band while I was growing up. So one could say he started all this and you can thank him for all of it. I was always in pubs, and places when I was a kid. I picked up on music at a young age.
Pup, that is what they call a kid down under right?
You played festivals in the summer, did you have a favorite festival of the summer? If so, which and why?
I think all of them are our favorite. Festival times are the times that you get to play for people wanting music in a big open setting. Mad Summer Melt Down 17′ had some cool acts to be on a bill with, but so did all of the festivals. Kung Fu killed it. We played 7 festivals last year, and we really got to meet some talented musicians in 2017. Musikfest was good this past year because there was a baby grand piano we got to pull up and use. I remember wondering who has to lug that thing around at the stage company? I also remember not having two of the same socks at that show, and some how that effected my performance.
The band went to the video shoot with Relix magazine in NYC where you also recorded, how was this experience?
The experience is one that we all really kind of marked as a accomplishment. Get into a major publication was on our band bucket list. Relix magazine started to cover recording the Grateful Dead back in the 70’s and just went on from there so, it was cool to be in a office with all the staff working in their nice office set up, you know, covering music and reporting on all these musical endeavors. Setting up and playing in a office was weird to myself, I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but imagine you go into an office and a band sets up in a room surrounded by desks, and plays some music while you are drinking your morning coffee checking email. I wish I had that at work. I thought to myself this must be a cool place to come to work everyday.
You played Musikfest in 2017, the biggest free music festival in the USA, how did you prepare for this gig and how was it playing such a massive festival?
We practiced a lot, and then some more, and then made a set list on a napkin 5 minutes before went on. Musikfest is always a shot in the dark for some to get in. Obviously you will get selected if you keep submitting, but it’s a process yearly. We had to play on the street on their doorstep for a year to get some recognition. What I mean by that is, there was a art studio we would play free demonstrations with the glass blowers, and we kind of got in through all of those shows for the glass guys. We watched some awesome glass be created in front of us, while playing to a open bay door in Bethlehem Pa. They must of heard it, cause they hired us for the festival.
How did all these festivals come about?
All the festivals came about by meeting the right people, and reaching out through websites with press kits. A lot of sending, and little response in that world. For every 10 emails, if you get 1 back then you did well. These festivals are flooded with submissions year after year, and most the groups all have chops to back their requests to get on the stage. One of our favorite promoters we met is Grateful Dick. He really helped us get into some other places, and out of Jersey for a hot minute. I think once you are “in” with the Dick’s of the world, people like him enjoy bringing music to people and placing people together in bigger events. It has to be cool to run a festival like Lockin. That is one festival we want to be at! We would like to get out of the USA and play some festivals in other parts of the world, I think that is on the list.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Medeski, Scofield, Martin, & Wood – A Go Go
Please tell us about your album?
The album “Savage on the High Seas” is on ITunes right now, and I don’t think to many people know about it. So this is good. The recording session was a big accomplishment for the band in early 2017 because we did the whole CD in two days in a state of the art 24 track studio. We recorded live in Asbury Park NJ, a place that Bruce Springsteen made famous back in the day. Although we sound nothing like him, it was cool to record our new record in the same town. New Jersey bred musicians here…
What equipment and programs did you use to record?
All of our own gear instrument wise was used. Guitars, Bass, Drums, Organ, Percussion. We recorded digitally this time, through a 71 Neve Console. The one like Dave Ghrol uses. The last album was under my own bands name Mike Frank & Friends, and we recorded to 2″ tape. The sound was fat. That album “A Doorway Beyond” was mostly the same group. It is a good listen as well. Our engineer Tim, he did a good job of keeping us moving during the two 8 hour sessions. Again, lots of practice is needed for the studio cause it can get expensive.
What or who influences your songwriting?
The people in my life influence the thought process on the songs when I write. “Are you gonna be on time today?”, is a lyric that I ask myself everyday at 5am. There is a little inside joke of a story behind most the songs, and some are just straight up fiction that come from outer space. I sit on my roof with a net, and scoop the songs out of the air. Maybe it’s a little turbulence and change that are a factor as well, and sometimes our favorite groups pop in and out of our playing collectively. The songs call for a internal perspective, that sounds kind of ambiguous and vague, but we all have a perspective. Really it’s a mix of all of that. Life influences the songs, so I suppose that is why it is the living art. I like Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zepplin and good music is good music. I like it all. Panella likes Medeski, Martin & Wood and other rock like the Doors, and some other jazz stuff. Steve and I always share the music of the Grateful Dead, and Phish, but he likes the funk a lot. Gotta have that funk! Todd is into the classic rock bands as well as jazz, and blues. He attended music school, and knows the theory of it all pretty well, as does most of the band. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m playing at all, and he’s like, “Son, this is actually what you are doing right here.” I know the Who is one of his favorites. Rakow draws on a lot of golden classics as well, but turns anything on guitar into his own ripping guitar lines. He really has his own style. All of these influences make our sound pretty unique.
What do you like to do outside of music?
I know we all do our own thing outside of this little group. Todd enjoys a good sailing trip on his boat, and spending time by his woodstove. He collects corn cob pipes and enjoys a smoke with a glass of something good by the fire in these dark winter months. At heart Todd loves his family time. Something about that just sound comfy. Panella is very into the arts with his Glass projects. I swear he is never not busy, and is always on the move working with musicians who play hammond organs. He knows Hammonds inside and out, and repairs them for touring acts. The stuff Panella creates in his spare time is really awesome, and he teaches glass students on a regular basis. if you meet him, and spend time with him, you will probably get recruited into assisting him in the shop. Steve is a music fanatic, and attends open jams a lot to keep his chops up when it’s not hibernation time. Even in his down time he likes to create. Steve’s last project was a electrified wash board for when we play acoustically. He hooked it up to a wah wah pedal, and well, it sounds like a wash board through a wah wah pedal. Rakow brews beer in New Jersey at River Horse Brewing Co. Although it is his Job, being the head brewer I think takes up a part of his social life as well with all the craft shows. We always have fun playing the brewery events. I know he is very smart when it comes to electrical components too, I need my q-tron fixed, and I keep forgetting to ask him to fix it. My self, I enjoy my garden, treasure hunting, and learning new skills for when the end of the world is upon us. I grew so many tomatoes and veggies last year, I was giving them away. I like cooking, and doing the family thing, and hanging out with my girl friend.
What do you have planned for the remainder of 2018?
We want to do some music videos this year, a bunch of music videos, obviously play shows and keep up the grind work. How about a trip to Australia? We’re all down to play down under.
Favorite food and place to hangout?
Pizza…. duhhhh! What else is there? Sushi, nahh… I think sun flower seeds are the food most like the music industry. A lot of work, and little pay off. Strangely satisfying. Do they make bags of pre-shelled sun flower seeds? I’m just kidding there, I enjoy seeing people smile when we play. That is what it’s all about. The hang outs of local musicians and open mics are always fun to shoot the breeze. I haven’t been to many lately, but that is going to change coming up here shortly.
I like to hang out in the garden and turn on the tunes, watch the bees and the butterflies do their thing. It’s relaxing and people need more of that. People need less artificial light and cubicles. Kick off your shoes and let your feet be in the dirt for a minute. Have some friends over and watch the plants grow, and eat together. That is good for the soul. If more people did this, we’d understand more about each other and less hungry. All of it, music, art, socializing, reading, learning useful practical skills, sailing, that is what it’s all about. You have to do your own thing to make music.