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Frankie And The Witch Fingers interview with Dylan Sizemore, Alex Bulli and Glenn Brigman

September 16, 2014

Frankie And The Witch Fingers interview with Dylan Sizemore, Alex Bulli and Glenn Brigman

I really don’t like to make comparisons when it comes to
bands that I enjoy, there’s always something different and unique, at least in
my eyes, about what I’m listening to.  I
do not enjoy derivative bands much.  So,
while Frankie And The Witch Fingers may sound like Ty Segall started a new band
with Jay Reatard and they got Charlie Mootheart to join in on the fun, they’re
really just a ridiculously talented lo-fi garage rock outfit in my eyes and I
couldn’t mean that as a greater compliment. 
From the moment you start the titular title track on their debut album,
Sidewalk, you can hear a deep appreciation for late 60’s and early 70’s
psychedelia, refined and captured in the same emphatic and impulsive way, while
dragging tricks and sounds from the last fifty years along for the ride.  While Frankie And The Witch Fingers seem to
incorporate a few more dissonant sounds and breaks, think 13th Floor Elevators
or The Velvet Underground, to really spice up the sound and add a level of
dissonance to the tightly crafted garage pop melodies, that just seem to melt
out of your speakers.  Reverberation and
fuzz dosed guitars shimmer and undulate in the songs, while echoed vocals float
above the instruments, blending in and out of fits of distortion and
rave-ups.  The bass and drums are like
calm pounding waves, powerful enough to chip away at a mountain with out
raising an un-needed racket while doing so. 
Tracks slowly build moment and break into amazing walls of sound and
distortion, before fading back into the shadows to reveal the skeletal melody
of the song again to let you take it all back in one more time before you’re
done.  My favorite tracks are when they
just hit the gas though, pounding riffs and thundering bass twisting together
like a Porsche hitting a lamp post at a hundred and eighty miles an hour,
taking your mind along for the ride! 
Sidewalk has only been released as an extremely limited cassette tape at
this point, but word is that might be changing sometime soon but either Frankie
And The Witch Fingers is prepping for the release of their second full-length
album before the end of the year.  I
would usually have held off talking to them until the album release but I have
to admit, these tunes really got into my head! 
I couldn’t find a way to buy a tape, hell, I couldn’t even find out who
put it out, and I was hoping to score a copy. 
While I was chatting with these guys though, I just couldn’t help but do
an interview; listen to Sidewalk and tell me you wouldn’t have done the
same!  What follows is a glimpse at a
band that in my opinion is on the brink of really bringing the heat.  These dudes are just serious enough about
what they do to make amazing music and they have enough fun making it, you can
hear it through your speakers on every track. 
After a recent relocation from Indiana to California, I have no doubt
you’re gonna be hearing a lot about Frankie And The Witch Fingers before
long.  In the meantime, get a head start
and check out the story so far below, and for the love of all that’s holy – click
the Bandcamp link and take in some of the best garage rock you’re gonna hear
this side of 1969!
I don’t know how
long you all have been around or anything but I just heard about you guys not
long ago at all.  What’s the lineup in
the band at this point?  Is this the
original lineup or have there been any changes since the band started in those
regards?
Glenn:  The current
lineup is Dylan Sizemore on guitar and vocals, Josh Menashe on lead guitar,
Alex Bulli on bass and me (Glenn Brigman) on drums.  The band started as a two-piece of Dylan and
myself but that was a pretty short phase, we decided to switch to the full band
setup pretty quickly.
Are any of you in
any other active bands or do you have any side projects going on at this
point?  Have you released any music with
anyone else in the past?  If so, can you
tell us a little bit about that?
Dylan:  Glenn, Josh
and I also play in the band Triptides, but on different instruments.  We’ve put out a lot of releases on various
labels over the years.  The first Frankie
album was put out on tape by Nice Legs records out of Washington.
How old are you
and where are you originally from?
Dylan:  We’re all in
our early twenties.  Glenn’s from
Atlanta, Josh is from San Diego, Bulli is from Springfield, Illinois and I’m
from Lexington, Kentucky.
What was the local
music scene like where you grew up?  Did
you see a lot of shows or where you very involved in the scene or
anything?  Do you feel like that scene
played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or in the way that you
perform at this point?
Glenn:  We all came
from pretty different scenes.  All of
them we’re rock and roll based, but each with its own version.  I think the fact that we all saw music
growing up gave us the opportunity to understand music performance and how to
be an active member of a musical community, going to shows, playing shows,
collecting records and all that good stuff.
What about your
home when you were growing up?  Were
either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or maybe just
extremely interested or involved in music when you were a kid?
Glenn:  My dad played
the piano and made me take piano lessons, which got me into music pretty
early.  Alex Bulli’s dad was a guitarist
in several different groups and is an authority on the Gibson SG.  Dylan’s dad played him Black Sabbath in the
crib.
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?
Dylan:  When I was a
kid a camp counselor gave me In Utero by Nirvana and I got pretty obsessed with
it.
Glenn:  My friend’s
dad took us to see Lynyrd Skynyrd at a race track in South Carolina.
Alex:  Apparently, I
hated music for the first year or so of my life, until I heard my parents
listening to the Rolling Stones “Prodigal Son” and it totally changed
everything.
If you were to
pick a moment that changed everything for you and opened your eyes to the
infinite possibilities of music, what would it be?
Dylan:  Seeing the OBN
III’s at Magnetic South.  I was in an
enlightened mood that night.
Glenn:  I got my first
multi-track recorder in high school and I’ve never looked at music the same way
since.
Alex:  Seeing a band
called The Gunga Dins play a local VFW hall when I was in seventh grade.  I’d never seen a crowd of people that stoked
about anything, let alone hearing four people play in a dimly lit room.
When did you
decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you?
Dylan:  I started
making up my own songs as soon as I figured out how to make noise on a guitar.
Glenn:  At the end of
high school, I stopped trying to learn covers and started making up my own
songs.  When I was younger I was a bit of
a classic rock purist, but when I started getting into newer music was when I
decided to take a shot at songwriting; kind of realized that good music was
still happening and got excited about making my own stuff.
Alex:  The first day
that I ever picked up a guitar, my sister, best friend and I recorded a
five-song tape straight onto this crappy old boombox I had laying around.  We had a song about this cold war era poster
in my basement that said “Russians Are Coming”. 
Luckily things have gone uphill from there.
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
originally get it?
Dylan:  I got a drum
set for Christmas when I was nine.
Glenn:  My family
always had a piano in the house, so I grew up on that.  I eventually got a knock off Stratocaster
when I was around thirteen.
Alex:  Luckily, my
parents were always in bands, so we had a room full of guitars and amps when I
was growing up.  They would show me
instruments throughout my childhood, but I finally picked up his old Strat and
seriously tried to play it one afternoon when I was about eleven.
How did you all
meet and when would that have been?
Glenn:  I met Josh
Menashe in 2009 when we were both freshmen at Indiana University.  Alex Bulli lived with this dude Alex Barrett,
who had lived in the same dorm as Josh. 
From 2011 to 2013 we played together in a band called Prince Moondog,
formed with Barrett on guitar and vocals until he moved to New York City.  A few months before he moved I began jamming
and recording with Dylan, so when we wanted to expand to a full band it was
pretty easy to get Josh and Bulli on board in basically the same arrangement
with Dylan instead of Barrett.
When and what led
to the formation of Frankie and the Witch Fingers?
Dylan:  I was playing
guitar and singing for a group called Dead Beach, but we had different
schedules and I was writing a lot of new material faster than we could keep up
with it as a band.  Glenn moves at a
quick pace, both in recording and writing, so it worked out a bit better.
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
Dylan:  “Taking drugs
to make music to take drugs to” – Spacemen 3.
The name is great,
man.  Seriously memorable, and yet like
somehow exotic or something.  What does
the name Frankie and the Witch Fingers mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you all go
about choosing it?  Were there any close
seconds that you almost went with you can recall at this point?
Dylan:  The name
refers to my cat, Frankie.  I was hanging
out with my old roommate Josh Wold, staring at a wall, and in the room we had
both a green and red light on.  Josh and
Frankie were both playing with shadows and it appeared to look like the fingers
of a witch.  It was weird and it stuck
with me.
Where’s Frankie
and the Witch Fingers located at right now?
Glenn:  We’ve been in
Bloomington, Indiana for our entire existence up until this point.  In a month or so Josh, Bulli and I will be
moving to Los Angeles and Dylan is going to make it out there soon after.
How would you
describe the local music scene where you’re currently located?
Dylan:  Vast.
Alex:  Yeah, it’s
pretty crazy how many people with totally different musical tastes can be in
this super tightly knit local scene. 
Bloomington is tight.
Do you feel very
involved in the local scene?  Do you book
or attend a lot of local shows or anything?
Glenn:  We all go out
to shows pretty frequently.  A lot of our
friends are musicians, so there’s been no shortage of musical events, whether
it’s a house show or a bar show or a pagan music festival.  Dylan, Bulli and I are going to see Apache
Dropout tonight for their album release.
Are you involved
in recording or releasing any music?  If
so, can you tell us a little bit about that here?
Glenn:  I’ve been
recording different bands in my room over the last three years including
Triptides, Frankie and the Witch Fingers, Prince Moondog, Stephen Burns, Ivory
Wave, Bloody Mess and Jerome and the Psychics.
Alex:  Yeah, we all
kind of bring our own talents to the recording/mixing table.  Glenn has a portable studio we call Sun
Pavilion, and a lot of our hangout sessions revolve around checking out the
tracks we’ve been working on lately.
In your opinion, has the local scene played an integral
role in the formation, history, sound or evolution of Frankie and the Witch
Fingers or do you think that you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound
like you do regardless of where you were at or what you were surrounded by?
Dylan:  I think our
influences have nothing to do with Bloomington, but the fact that we’ve been
able to play awesome shows with our friends is definitely cool.
Glenn:  I think it’s
cool just being surrounded by people making music on a regular basis.
Alex:  Bloomington is
definitely a place that lets us be ourselves and make the music we want to, but
I think we all have our own ideas about music that would come out wherever we
lived.
I can hear a lot
of different influences rumbling around in the belly of the sound but it’s hard
to put my finger on all of them.  Who are
some of your major musical influences? 
What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just
individually?
Dylan:  Chocolate
Watchband, 13th Floor Elevators, Velvet Underground, July, Os Mutantes, The
Beatles, David Bowie, Morgen, The Misunderstood, Thee Oh Sees and anything that
expands your hearing.
Glenn:  The Byrds, The
Beach Boys, The Troggs, Syd Barrett, Can, The Zombies, The Kinks, Tomorrow,
Cleaners From Venus, Marc Bolan, Spacemen 3, Ariel Pink, Gene Clark, Hawkwind,
Love, Strawberry Alarm Clock, White Fence, Neil Young, and Clear Light.
Alex:  I’m really into
Chad VanGaalen, Protomartyr, Parquet Courts, Courtney Barnett, and
Radioactivity right now.  I also dig a
lot of Simon and Garfunkel and Armede Ardoin stuff.  I think we all come together in terms of
60’s/70’s stuff, but we’re always down to listen to whatever the rest of us
have dug out of the crates that week.
Speaking of
sounds, how would you describe your sound to our readers who might not have
heard you all before in your own words?
Dylan: 
Inter-dimensional Cat Traveling.
What’s the
songwriting process with Frankie and the Witch Fingers like?  Is there someone who usually comes to the
rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out with the rest of
you?  Or do you all get together for
practice and just kind of kick ideas back and forth and toss stuff out until
you find something that works and then polish it from there?
Glenn:  Dylan comes up
with the tracks and brings them over to jam. 
Usually, we end up playing drums and guitar for a while, and then record
it and the let Josh and Alex overdub their parts.  More recently, we’ve all been jamming out the
songs together for a bit and then recording them live as a full band,
though.  Dylan always writes the lyrics
but everyone helps with the arrangements, harmonies and other production
elements.  I usually overdub some organ
if a song calls for it.
What about
recording?  I think most musicians can
appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into the
recording of the stuff when you’re holding that finished product in your hands,
but getting to that point, getting stuff recorded and especially sounding the
way that you want it to as a band, can be extremely difficult to say the
least.  What’s it like recording for
Frankie and the Witch Fingers?
Dylan:  I usually just
go over to Glenn and Josh’s house and a few hours later there’s a cassette tape
full of eight tracks of music.
In 2013 you all
released your first material that I’m aware of, the eleven track Sidewalk.  I know that’s available on your Bandcamp
digitally but was that ever physically released at all?  If so, can you tell us about that?  What was the recording of the material for
Sidewalk like?  When was that material
recorded and who recorded it?  Where was
that at?  What kind of equipment was
used?  Was the recording of that material
a fun, pleasurable experience for you all?
Dylan:  So far there
are only 40 Sidewalk cassettes floating around, but we’re supposed to have a
new batch soon.  The tape came along in a
very organic way.  I saw Glenn at a show
and he said, “You should come over and record some tracks”.  The next day we had the title track
“Sidewalk” fully recorded.  A couple of
weeks later we had the whole tape.  They
were just supposed to be demos we dumped off of the Tascam 488.  It was super fun, and I haven’t stopped
hanging and recording with them since.
You all followed
up the Sidewalk release by contributing a track, “Revival”, to the Stroll-On
Records 4-Way Split 7”.  Was that written
and recorded specifically for the single or was it left over from the earlier
session(s) for Sidewalk?  If it was
recorded for the single, can you tell us about that?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Glenn:  “Revival” is
part of a new record that will be coming out on Permanent Records later this
year.  I recorded it with help from Josh
Menashe in my bedroom onto a Tascam 488 last fall.  It features a 12-string electric that’s
actually a knock-off Rickenbacker and a Farfisa Compact Duo.
When I was talking
with you all not long ago you happened to mention that you have an upcoming
full-length.  Do you all have a tentative
title or anything at this point?  Is the
material recorded and do you have any idea who’s going to be putting it out or
when that will be?  What can our readers
expect from the debut full-length?   Did
you all try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting
or recording of the material for the upcoming album?
Dylan:  The new album
is called Frankie and the Witch Fingers, coming soon on Permanent Records.  Expect to ebb, flow and connect with the
fuzzy liquid tissues of non-reality.
Does Frankie and
the Witch Fingers have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a
single, a song on a compilation or a demo that I don’t know about?
Dylan:  We have a
track called “Diamonds” out on a Headdress Records compilation tape.
With the
completely insane international postage rate increases that just don’t seem to
be letting up, where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up your stuff?
Dylan:  Until we’ve
released our new stuff domestically, Stroll On Records’ shop is the place to
go.
What about our
international and overseas readers?
Dylan:  Stroll On
ships worldwide!
And where would
the best place for keep up on the latest news like upcoming shows and album
releases from Frankie and the Witch Fingers at?
Glenn:  Right now all
we have is Bandcamp and a Facebook page, so probably Facebook.
Alex:  Eventually,
we’ll get something a little more cohesive together.
Are there any
major plans or goals that you all are looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014
or in 2015?
Dylan:  We’re hoping
to do a west coast tour to support the release of our upcoming LP.
Alex:  Yeah, should be
announcing a lot of stuff in the coming months!
Do you all spend a
lot of time out on the road touring? Do you enjoy touring?  What’s life like on the road for Frankie and
the Witch Fingers?
Dylan:  Glenn, Josh
and I have gone on tour as Triptides, so we know what to expect and Bulli was
actually the Triptides tour manager for a while.  We listen to a lot of music and enjoy seeing
new things together.
What, if anything,
do you all have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of 2014?
Glenn:  Tryin’ to get
a West Coast tour rolling, stay tuned for updates.
Who are some of
your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the
past few years?
Dylan:  We got to play
with Night Beats last year and Holy Wave recently, they’re killer!
Glenn:  We got to meet
Temples when Triptides played with them last fall, really good dudes and
amazing musicians.
In your dreams,
who are you on tour with?
Dylan:  Thee Oh Sees,
they seem like cool people.
Glenn:  Hawkwind
Alex:  Ty Segall Band
or Thee Oh Sees, definitely.
Do you have any
funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to
share here with our readers?
Dylan:  We played a
pagan music festival in the woods of southern Indiana.  It got pretty weird; in a good way.
Alex:  Yeah, that was
a wild night!  We ended up having this
crazy bonding experience with some of our best friends in a tent weathering the
Central Indiana storm of the century, and then playing around 1AM; very good
vibes.
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent,
stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that
you’re trying to convey with your art? 
Do you have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when
it comes to that kind of thing?
Glenn:  Dylan does a
lot of the artwork for the flyers, posters and cover art.
Dylan:  We would love
to collaborate with some visual artists soon.
With all of the
various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why they choose and prefer the mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for
your own music?  What about when you’re
listening to and or purchasing music?  If
you do have a preference, can you talk a little bit about why?
Dylan:  Gatefold
double LP 180g vinyl, ‘cuz they’re tight.
Glenn:  LPs are just
more rewarding on a sensory level, tactile, aural, visual and sometimes they
even smell weird.
Alex:  LP,
definitely.  There’s something so
personal about literally holding the sound waves that a group of people made
together.  There’s something to be said
for digital music in terms of convenience, or streaming for checking out a ton
of new bands every day, but if I want to actually experience a piece of music I
always spring for the vinyl.
Do you have a music
collection at all?  If so, can you tell
us a bit about it?
Dylan:  I buy tapes
and records.
Glenn:  I have a
pretty large record collection with a focus on 60’s psych and Brazilian music.
Alex:  I have a decent
collection of more modern LPs, and my parents have an insane catalogue of 50’s
to 70’s discs that I break into/borrow from whenever I’m at home.  I dig on punk and vintage cassettes too.
I grew up around
an awesome collection of music, I was encouraged to enjoy it and on top of that
my dad would always pick me up random music that I was interested in from the
local shops.  I would kick back with a
set of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover and just let the
whole thing carry me off on this trip. 
It was magical and I gained a pretty deep appreciation for physically
released music from a young age.  Having
something physical to hold in my hands and experience along with the music
always made fro a more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with
physically released music and if so, can you talk a little bit about it?
Glenn:  Right there
with you dude!  I remember bringing home
Revolver and getting lost in the revolutions.
Alex:  I love how
natural listening to a physical release is. 
You can just sit back with a living room full of your best friends and
get lost in a record.  No one gets up to
search for something on Spotify, or skips a track.  You get to have a real experience with the
people around you, which is kind of hard to do anymore.
Like it or not,
digital music is here in a big way right now. 
Digital music is just the tip of the iceberg in my opinion though.  When you combine it with the internet, that’s
when you have something really crazy on your hands.  Together they’ve exposed people to the
literal world of music that they’re surrounded by, it’s allowed for an
unparalleled level of communication between bands and their fans and it’s
eradicated geographic boundaries and limitations that have crippled bands in
the past.  On the other hand though,
illegal download is running rampant and while people may hear more music these
days they’re not always interested in paying for it.  As an artist during the reign of the digital
era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Glenn + Dylan: 
Download whatever you can get your hands on.  Fuck it.
Alex: 
Definitely.  I wouldn’t be nearly
as in to music if I hadn’t downloaded thousands of records over the years.  I’ve also noticed that I buy a lot more
records when I’m downloading and streaming a lot more.  Digital music is great for expanding your
sonic palette, but makes it easier for listeners to become apathetic about
artists.  People really just need to
become more analytical about their consumption patterns, and support the art
that they enjoy.
I try to keep up
with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s not enough time to listen
to all the sweet stuff that’s out there right now.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area
that I should be listening to I might not have heard of?
Dylan:  Full Sun,
Harpooner, Pnature Walk, and The Sands.
Alex:  Mike Adams.
Glenn:  Apache
Dropout.
What about
nationally and internationally?
Glenn:  Nationally, Stephen
Burns, Kuroma, Prince Moondog, and The Mutations.  Internationally, Boogarins, Proto Idiot,
Jerome and the Psychics, Aline, Zen Mantra, Orval Carlos Sibelius, and Klaus
Johann Grobe.
Alex:  Nationally,
Frankie Cosmos and Joanna Gruesome.
Thanks so much fro
doing this interview!  It was awesome
learning so much about the band and while I image this took a while to get
done; hopefully it was cool thinking about everything you’ve managed to
accomplish and everything you’ve got planned for the future!  I’m done with the questions but before we
call it a day I’d like to open the floor up to you all for a second.  Is there anything that I could have possibly
missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or the
readers about?
Glenn + Dylan + Alex: 
Thanks for hitting us up for the interview and keep your eyes out for
our new record later this year!
DISCOGRAPHY
(2013)  Frankie and
the Witch Fingers – Sidewalk – Digital, ? – Self-Released (?)
(2014)  Frankie and
the Witch Fingers/Triptides/The See See/The Young Sinclairs – Stroll On 4-Way
Split – 7” – Stroll On Records (Limited to 100 Tricolor and 150 Psychotic-Purple
Vinyl copies)
(2014)  Frankie and
the Witch Fingers – TBA – (full-length) – Permanent Records
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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