INTERVIEW WITH ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN
by Emily Kendy

While veteran New Jersey punk band Electric Frankenstein recently pulled into Vancouver for a poorly publicized gig at the Piccadilly Pub, the lucky fans who DID get to witness the foursome splinter the stage with their razorblade snarl, breakneck drums and bludgeoning guitars included VV and Hotel of The Kills. Sal Canzonieri, EF’s knarly rhythm guitarist, shares some deep thoughts on their 13th album “Burn Bright, Burn Fast”, recorded during their 13th year as a band.

So um, I stole your guitar string at that show but afterwards I got all paranoid that you keep those sorts of things...It wasn't, like, fixable, was it? I only stole it 'cause I thought it was broken...

Sal: Ha, no, I have no need to keep a broken guitar string; they are annoying ‘cause they get tangled up around your feet when on stage. You can keep it no problem. Once it's broken there is no use for it.

What’s the song “Burn Bright Burn Fast” about?

Sal: It's really about Elliott Smith.

No way! Elliot Smith was very fascinating and his story is so sad.

Sal: I really love his music, it immediately connects to your heart if you have had a hard life, like I have had. He used to live in NYC when EF first started, we saw him around, usually when Jon Spencer was at our shows. He used to walk around the city by himself listening to tapes. His music was very deep and for real and he rocked! The last time I saw him play live was in the month before he died. I had tons of weird visions, they were more than dreams the day he died and for weeks after. It was like he was talking to me about everything. As far as I am concerned, he didn't do it.

You’ve said this is the best EF album you guys have ever done...is that due to experience? Lessons learned?

Sal: Well, due both those things, by now after 15 years of EF existing, we are able to produce our own records to sounds like we want them to sound without needing outside help, and we can do it quicker and better too. We learned a lot over the years from recording.

Anything you can pass on to young grasshoppers?

Sal: Well, that the instruments that we record with have to be the best vintage equipment so that it sounds amazing in tone no matter what kind of mics you use, and to make the drums loud and clear so that the songs have a strong groove. Then split the bass signals so that it is clear and defined and also fat and thundering in each signal. The guitars should be layered in pieces to develop a giant wall of guitar sound that destroys you!  Then, we make the vocals loud and with depth and presence. Then it is easy to mix the songs, cause all the material was recorded loud and clear and intense, there is no "fixing it in the mix. We also work out the order of the songs and mix them in the order that the songs are going to be on the album so that we can feel out how the record is flowing, we work the songs like a DJ does, so that there is an up and down of emotions, we tease the listener and play with their feelings.

You said you used a 56 track recording sound? What’s that?

Sal: 56 tracks means there are 56 separate mikes used on each song, like 56 different instrument/vocals all layered in together to make a giant sound. It' s not unheard of it you are Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, but it has never been done for a regular Punk band. We wanted to go past this boring lo-fi emo thing and kick Punk up the stairs a bit to see how huge we could make the songs sound while still keeping them raw and powerful and the same time. That was the ART of making this record!

I can’t believe you do a cover of The Cars. I mean I was a nutty fan of them when I was a little kid “You Might Think”. But I wouldn’t really think you guys would be into them…

Sal: Well, who could escape that "Candy-O" song back in the 80s when it was first around? It was everywhere. We wanted to do something from the 1980s that was well written, as all Cars songs are, but not too serious, so that we could do a good re-write of the style of the song, we did like a heavy metal version of it. Kinda like if Heart did the song, heh heh.

Do you guys play any road games while you’re in the van, touring?

Sal: Games, no, we talk a lot about things…

Like what?

Sal: Well, we sometimes talked about how certain labels are set up to rip bands off, how contracts are worded to do that as well. Also, we listen to either tons of 70s hard rock like Kiss, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Mott the Hoople, Alice Cooper, and stuff like Motorhead, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and also tons of punk like Black Flag, Damned, Dead Boys, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Ramones, etc. The only non-Rock that we listen to still. We really love KOOL KEITH, there is no one better so why bother listening to another rap/hip hop artist? Most of us on the road are always reciting whole passages from old films we saw and also funny stuff from Exploitation films, especially Pulp Fiction, I'm Gonna Get Ya Sucka. Friday, stuff like that.

You guys have wicked artwork on your covers. What does this one look like?

Sal: The cover was done by the amazing Basil Gogos, who did covers for Rob Zombie and The Misfits and also during the 1960s he did the covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine!

Was that an original piece custom made for EF? Have you met that dude?

What's he like?

Sal: Yes, this was an original piece that I commission Basil to do for me. I have met him many times; I have known him for the last 10 years or more. He is a very kind and generous person that loves his work and is very nice to talk to.

Just like you!

http://www.electricfrankenstein.com


 

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