INTERVIEW: Frankie Rambler

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Frankie Rambler onstage at the 5th Quarter Lounge (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

On a severely stormy Saturday night at the end of May, I happened to be safely tucked inside the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis awaiting a triple-threat of locals — Speedbird, Mardi Belle and the Fuss — and a band called the Fever, who were making an Indianapolis pit stop while here from Germany. But it was the mild-mannered opener, just a lone cowboy-hatted singer and his guitar, who won me over right off the bat.

Frankie Rambler, who you may also know as the bassist for Indianapolis rockers We Are Gentlemen, kicked off the night with a tight blend of psychobilly and acoustic folk, songs constructed around vivid imagery and bare-bones acoustic hooks which proved particularly barbed. I was so impressed I just had to pick his brain. The result, this rambling five-minute interlude recorded behind the 5th Quarter at well past midnight, should prove an effective introduction to a performer I think you’ll be hearing a great deal more from.

Watch a video from his set here, then dig in!

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Frankie Rambler

Night Ramblin’ outside the 5th Quarter. (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

So how long have you been doing the solo performing as Frankie Rambler?

For about six years now, actually. I’ve been writing and trying to bring everything together for that long. It’s been three years that I’ve been playing live.

I heard you describe yourself as psychobilly. I kept hearing that in my head as I listened, as if Tiger Army and Ward Hayden of Girls, Guns and Glory were put together on a stage.

I’m a big fan … I like Tiger Army, and when Nick 13 did his solo stuff and took a break from them for a while, I liked that it was a little more country sounding. I’m a big fan of Necromantix, Koffin Kats, and a local band from [Dayton] Ohio called the Loveless. I love them too. They’re good dudes to just sit and have drinks with.

I like when singers from bands go solo and they switch up the expectations like Dustin Kensrue when he split off from Thrice and did all that really crazy-good acoustic country stuff.

Yes. [Nods emphatically.] Kind of the same thing with JT from Hawthorne Heights. They had their almost screamo rock and roll stuff, and he does the solo stuff where it’s just him and an acoustic guitar, so he can really let his folky roots show. I appreciate when artists do that.

So what were your goals as a solo artist? What do yo want to get across via your songs as Frankie Rambler?

Really I just want to play and have fun. With this psychobilly stuff, it’s not just your normal love songs. I really incorporate a lot of the horror themes and make it as gory as I can without scaring my grandma. My mom hates it, but she also loves the fact that I’m playing music and having fun with it. That’s really the main goal.

Do you have an album out yet?

I’m in the middle of working on one. We’re aiming for the end of July, beginning of August.

What should people expect from that? Are you working solo or with a full band?

On the CD I’m playing guitar, bass and then I have a drummer friend who’s going to throw some drum tracks down. But when I perform it, for now, it’s just me live. Eventually I do want to put a full band together but for now it’s just me and my acoustic guitar.

Any other shows coming up that people should check out?

Right now no. I play open-mic nights mainly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Aristocrat and Tow Yard Brewhouse so people can catch me there. It’s always glad to hear how people react, and when you realize they enjoy it.

Is there anything you ever wish people would ask you about but they never do?

Whew, that’s a good question! Wow … no, I can’t think of anything! Give it a couple more years. I don’t really get a lot of people asking me questions, they just tell me they had fun listening.

So you haven’t gotten to the point where you have questions you wish no one would ever ask?

I’ve had some people ask me why I write the stuff that I write. And just from what I’m into, with old horror movies and stuff like that, I enjoy that so I want to put it into music. But some of my songs are actually inspired by real events. Like the one song I played tonight called “At Your Bedside,” it’s all about going to my ex’s and taking care of our child while she was sick, and I just got this idea in my head: “I could kill her in her sleep!” And she loves the song, so I can’t … she’s not upset or anything! But it’s one of those songs where it was fun to write, a real life situation I got twisted up morbidly.

Is there anything else you’d want people in Indianapolis to know about you?

Not off the top of my head … you’re good! You keep stumping me! I really try to push the envelope when I write. There are other bands that kind of do the same thing I’m doing and have for years, and I try not to mimic their sound or ideas. I try to make it my own.

“HEAR! HEAR!” EXCLUSIVE: The Venom Cure – “On The Other Side”

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The Venom Cure

I wrote about the Venom Cure back in February after their performance in the Birdy’s Battle of the Bands. And though they did not advance to the semifinals, I was impressed with their EP On The Other Side Pt. 1, which amply showcased their blend of symphonic-tinged 80s stadium rock. I’ve since seen the band perform at the Emerson Theater and the quality of their live set was no fluke. Now they’re ready to launch their second EP, On The Other Side Pt. 2, which will debut at Slamology Cartruckshow this coming weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway. To get you primed for the show, they’ve agreed to debut the title track from that EP here at “Hear! Hear!” A thundering blend of early Bon Jovi with a hook echoing some of U2’s biggest stadium showcases, “On The Other Side” aptly picks up where the first EP left off. “Is there life on the other side of pain?” Steve Nicolas wails on the chorus, emoting at near-Steve Perry levels, and even at five minutes in length, the song doesn’t outstay its welcome. There’s definitely life in this single, and it has me excited to hear what more there is to offer on the new EP.

Be among the first to check it out here! Then comment below … are you ready for the Venom Cure?

FEATURED SONG: Good Guy Bad Guy – “Hello Cleveland”

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Indianapolis’ Good Guy Bad Guy in action at Birdy’s Live

Rockin’ and a Rollin’ all day long, these guys from Indianapolis just love the act of being in the band … as they put it: “Playing loud and aggressive music to get you moving. Grooving to the sweet sweet sounds of two guitars and a drum. Look for songs about sex, wrestling, sex again, rock and roll.” Check out their latest, “Hello Cleveland,” as our featured song of the day! Then catch them June 20th at the St. Anthony’s Parish Festival (337 N. Warman Ave, Indianapolis), where you can hear more of their originals plus a bunch of covers they’re itching to bust out!

Read their interview with “Hear! Hear!”

THE LIVE WIRE: Among The Compromised at Birdys Live tonight!

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Eleadah Kemp, lead vocalist for Among The Compromised, during the finals of the Birdy’s Battle Royale (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

I can’t think of a better way to relaunch “Hear! Hear!” than with an update on Among the Compromised, my favorite new band from the whole Birdy’s Battle Royale experience! The band played its first three shows as part of that Battle challenge, making it all the way to the finals, and though they would eventually fall short, it wasn’t for lack of trying. That performance they gave in the last round showed real pluck, a willingness to take risks with their sound that few other bands would be willing to attempt in the finals of a big-money competition. Eleadah Kemp remains my favorite singer in the city, with a voice that deserves to become a national threat, and there’s no reason to think they can’t join Battle winners Brother O’ Brother in becoming Indianapolis’ next huge thing.

If you’ve wanted to hear the band break out in a fuller performance than the Battle format would allow, tonight’s your big chance! They’ll take the stage at Birdy’s this evening after a little opening help from venue booker Henry French — who I’m told can really rock the stage when he’s not singing the praises of Jose Cuervo — and Indianapolis’ Dressed In Red, recent winners of the Indy in Tune showcase. Doors open at 8, show starts at 9. If the previous three Among the Compromised appearances are any indication, this will be one of those shows you simply don’t want to miss. Especially if you’re a fan of women who rock — I’ve seen a few videos of Dressed in Red in action, and Mel Reffey definitely has her share of this city’s rock and roll charisma.

That’s what I’ve come to love about Birdy’s Live in the first place, the venue’s willingness to take risks on unproven bands, and then when they show what they can do, the venue backs them with future headlining opportunities. There’s a lot of competition in the Indianapolis scene for your concert dollar, but keep Birdy’s on your map. You won’t be disappointed.

Watch videos of Among the Compromised and Dressed in Red below:

ARTISTS TO WATCH: Dead Sara

Dead Sara’s Emily Armstrong. The band will be playing Birdy’s Live tomorrow night!

Another week gone, another great show coming up at Birdy’s Live! This time it’s the inimitable Dead Sara, whose song “Weatherman” I cannot get out of my head! “Go for the kill, ’cause no one else cares!” Emily Armstrong howls by the song’s end, and it’s impossible not to want to find as much more to hear as possible. The band’s latest, “Mona Lisa,” fits in more of the blues sound of bands like Delta Rae into their harder edged sound. If you want to get in on the ground floor and hear them before the band blows up nationally, you’re not going to want to miss tomorrow night’s Birdy’s set. The band’s fresh off a tour with Muse and they’ve been touted by Dave Grohl as one of the bands you simply have to hear. Once their sophomore album Pleasure To Meet You takes off there’s no limit to how far this sound can take them.

Tickets are still available for the show — check out their live performance of “Something Good” on Seth Meyers’ show, and then guarantee your spot up against the stage, only $10 in advance!

THE LIVE WIRE: Stackhouse

Stackhouse at the Birdy's Battle Royale (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Stackhouse at the Birdy’s Battle Royale (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

If you happened to make it to last week’s Battle Royale edition at Birdy’s, you caught Indianapolis’ best 80s hair metal act in their element. Stackhouse brought a ton of fans and won over the rest of us, easily earning themselves a spot in the next round. Their unabashed enthusiasm for all-things metal was contagious, as you can hear and see for yourselves via their song “Two Is Better Than One,” which I have included below. Scroll down for great photos, and then make plans to attend the Battle’s second round on April 17th when they’ll again compete for a chance at the $5,000 grand prize.

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ARTISTS TO WATCH: Sean Fournier

With songs that cross paths with Flobots, Chris Merritt and the poppier moments of Chris Thile’s solo work at equal measure, I have to call out Sean Fournier for being among my favorite pop discoveries. “Break My Heart” is a perfect example of his Flobots-oriented bent, the Connecticut songwriter bringing all the hooks great pop music demands while layering in dense lyrics Jason Mraz would appreciate. Having heard most of his last two albums via his page on Tradiio, I can say this song is just an example of what he can do. “Broken-Heart Red” fits in with the best of Chris Merritt’s synth-based originals, and “Origami” brings the two influences together even when it relies on lyrics flirting with cliche (“all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put you together again”). He’s been recording for most of the last decade, touring colleges and honing his craft. His latest, Brace Yourself, is available on iTunes.