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.

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