Interview with Frankie Sil
Frankie Sil, originally of Youngstown, OH, is the current bassist in the band New Years Day. Sil has been in the industry since he graduated high school when he was first signed to Universal Records. He has been in many bands since then, including Static-X!
EP: How have you been holding up during this difficult time man?
Sil: I'm good, man! Like I was telling you earlier, I've just been kind of out because I pulled my back in Nottingham last year and it has literally taken this long to even start healing. I've been going to physical therapy and the chiropractor to get it adjusted every day since I got home. Other than that, I got a studio! I’m building it now and I’m literally waiting on a desk that won’t be here for 10 weeks. The last little bit of everything I need is coming tomorrow so I'm going to be diving straight in and going hard in the paint! New tunes, new music for all of you. Also,I grew a handlebar mustache so I'm adulting.
EP: What was the story behind that?
Sil: Absolutely nothing. Boredom, I guess. I'm going to keep it until all of this subsides. Maybe, if this thing continues for like three years, I'll shave this off and grow a Wayne Static goatee.
EP:What will we hear in the studio, some solo stuff?
Sil: Yeah, absolutely! I'm going to work on all kinds of stuff. I don't have a specific sound at all, yet. I just want to experiment and do things I should've done twenty years ago. With [all] this time that we have, I just want to be more experimental. I always wanted to dive into the Kempers and see what they can really do and all the elite sounds... just see what's out there and speak more experimentally. I think a lot of music nowadays is getting to the point where everything sounds like somebody else. I think everything is going to change here soon [and], I don't know, I see a lot of labels going bankrupt. I think there's going to be this underground movement of musicians, like a grassroots movement. People are going to create their own sound and kids are going to like it or they won’t. Like, creating actual art rather than keeping up with a trend. It's like, “I'm trending in my house, check me out!” No, fuck you, you’re not trending, you’re trending a beard and long fingernails. It's like the “who cares movement.”
EP: So, you see a lot more artists going independent?
Sil: Absolutely, artists are going to be more independent. I think people who want to collaborate are going to hit people up online. Like, “Hey man. I have this song. Do you want to lay some drums over it? Let's do a web video with it because people can't leave [their houses].” I see DJ’s working with drummers and that’s fucking cool, because why not? I see all these random musicians from all around forming almost “supergroups” to collaborate on songs. [It’s] cover songs, normally, but it's like you'd never see “so and so” playing with “so and so” ever, so it's really cool.
EP: What was your influence to start playing bass?
Sil: I moved to Hollywood and saw the audition line for the bass players was very short, so I capitalized. No, I'm joking, but I've always played bass and guitar so it was just learning the style of the different instruments. I just gravitate more to the bass [because] there's more control behind it. It's part of the foundation of music with the drums. I just like the control and the anxiety of, “you can't mess up. You throw this off it's all on you man.” It’s kind of like, you got to get in there and give one hundred percent.
EP: You've been in the industry for a while! When did you start playing in a band?
Sil: One hundred and six years ago! No, I’d say since the band [Cherry Monroe] that was signed to Universal [Music Group]. Even before that, I've always played and been in a band. I don't remember a time that I haven't played. I got sober two years ago and when you get sober you look around and kind of lose who you were. All you knew was that fucking party animal, crazy dude. Looking back at it now, it's definitely something.
EP: In that time what was something you have learned?
Sil: Oh my god, what not to do! It's like trial and error. You kind of learn from your mistakes. Very rarely in this world will you get a pat on the back and positive affirmation like, “Dude! You did that right! Good job!” Nobody really does that in the music industry. You kind of do it and do things wrong until you learn from your own mistakes, so I've learned a lot. I've learned what people expect from you, a sense of professionalism. Just be great at what you do, always learn. We took this time off to get my basses here and I was going to fix them up. Starting out, learning how to fix basses and guitars is important. If you don't know that, you're going to be out on the road and things will go to shit and you won’t have enough money to fix them, so you better google something and try to figure it out before the next show. Then you start learning how to change inputs, pickups, rewire volume, and tone knobs that are broken and sand the fretboards... You learn everything out there. It's war. It's no joke. You don't shower for days, have to get up there every night, make sure you give it 110 percent, and make sure your body is ready to go. When you come off the road you're aching. I usually take like a week off and then I’m stoked like, “Let's go back on the road now!” I've learned a lot though, professionalism is the biggest one and there are three main takeaways to remember. Number one: Don't be a dick. Number two: Make sure you have working gear because it is your responsibility. Number three: Go out and have a good time.
EP: So, even on the road you're still independent? Even with a team?
Sil: You have a support system around you, but it's really cool when you have a tech in the band, a gear head, the aspiring producer, or the guy who knows how to do photoshop. Everybody also has to have that “other thing” to contribute. It just makes for a well-oiled machine. Now, if you have all that, you don't have to pay a graphic designer to design a shirt for you, you don't have to pay for anyone to engineer your stuff. You just work with the producer. So, it's nice to have a tech so nothing breaks down, but if you don't then, yes, you're on your own completely.
EP: You mentioned one of your previous bands, what other bands have you been in before joining New Years Day?
Sil: I've been in a band that started out in Youngstown [Ohio] called Cyrus. Then, I was with a band called Dear Violet, which is like Jet. Like, rock, almost like the Strokes, kind of 80’s music. Then we were called Cherry Monroe, which was supposed to be rock and roll but ended up being a Jonas Brothers band. After that, I was with an 80’s rock band called Gods, Guns & Glory. From there, I spent like three weeks in Filter before the whole band got replaced, so whatever that was. It was like you’re in, you’re out. I don't know what I did, I was just in and then out. From there, I worked with Davey Suicide for a while, then Static-X. After, I played in a band called The Killing Lights, then back to Static-X and now with New Years Day.
EP: You've toured in many places. What's your favorite place to tour and your favorite tour memory?
Sil: Those are hard because there are so many things that happen and there is always something happening. It's really just a jolly old’ good, fun time. A favorite place to play, I’ve always loved The Machine Shop in Flint, Mich. It's great. Kevin owns that and it’s a great place to play! The nostalgia of rock & roll there is so cool. As far as my favorite memory on the road, I remember we were playing in Austria. We were on stage and you can see the mountains and blue skies. It was beautiful, surreal. Another is we played in Australia and weren't on stage. Halestorm was playing “Black Vultures” and all these bats came down and started flying over the stage. It was that kind of evil, kind of dusk till dawn feel.
EP: If you weren't in a band what would you see yourself doing?
Sil: Man, Mickey, from Rivals, just asked me this. I said I would probably go into graphic design and business and probably be working for a major corporation. My drive is stupidly high, I would’ve definitely pushed that to the fullest. Then I was like, “I would've gotten sidetracked and been working in music doing polygraphic design for labels anyway.” Then there's the other side being like, “I probably wouldn't be doing anything else but music.” Music kind of calls towards you. People are like, “you’re really good,” and then you're like, “maybe I'll continue this.” If they say you suck then you're like, “well, I suck.” Not saying you shouldn't listen to other people, I just think you kind of know that you might not be good now but if you work at it you’ll get better. I don't think I thought that people were just like, “you're really good, I only know four chords,” but it's a good support system, I guess.
EP: I saw you made some amazing artwork in the past few months. Will you continue that?
Sil: Yeah. I've always been an artist and painted since high school. I've even had galleries in Youngstown. When I was going to college for graphic design, I was sitting in class and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I took all my curriculums for art, which I loved, but then there are math, English, and science. I was like, “I don't care about all this stuff, nor do I want to pay the man $500 to take a class. Like, why? So I can get a little diploma that says you did all this?” I think college now if you really want to go and defy the odds and get a great job, ok. But every year you have thousands and thousands of kids graduating so those lines to get that one job is so long. There's one guy who is going to beat the 150 other guys who graduated. There are only so many jobs. It's kind of like that with the music industry: there are 150,000 guys auditioning for this one band. One guy is going to make it, so what happens to the other 149,999 guys? Back to the drawing board! You’ve got to be on top of everything.
EP: Would you consider your paintings and making clothes a hobby or is that something you want to pursue?
Sil: I always wanted to pursue everything. I wanted to do fashion, music, painting, and jewelry. I always wanted to make my own stuff, but how many things can I take on at once? The reason I started making my own stuff is that when I lived in Hollywood the things I wanted to be were $1,200. I'm not paying $1,200 for a pair of pants or $500 for a shirt. So, I looked at it and was like, “what did they do?” I took sewing classes in high school and always made clothes. As with anything, the more you do it, the better you get. It’s all trial and error, like sewing your fingers down to a vest. I feel like with creativity, the sky's the limit. I don’t want to follow the norm, I don't really care. Like, “This is what I made, do you guys love it? Cool, would you guys buy it? Yes, awesome! Let’s do that because you guys want it, so, there you go!” Gene Simmons said, “Give them what they want,'' but make sure it's different, though. I'm not going to stand in line with a black sharpie and 50 other guys standing there with black sharpies going, “Hey, buy my sharpie! Why? Because I got a mustache,” that’s stupid.
EP: What goes through your head before you go out on stage?
Sil: I just blackout when I go up there. I don't get nervous anymore. I go up and treat it as a job. Before I go on stage, I stretch because I do too much [on stage]. The stomps, the jumping around, I almost jumped through LP’s drum set! That would've been bad because he's sponsored and they don't want to replace that many drums at once. “Dude you can't stand on here because it’s like 2ply,” so it’s like, “cool, I won't stand on here.” But then I stand on it the next day because I don't care [haha]. But, yeah, I stretch every day. I usually get up and have my coffee and banana. If you know me, you brought me a coffee at the Gramercy that one time, which, thank you again. After I have my coffee and banana, I workout wherever that might be at any close gym or parking lot. Then, I shower, get ready for the show, and eat. I kind of relax, because after all that and being on the road as many days as we are, it's kind of like “phew.” I like to decompress, too, so I will put my phone away often. Usually, when people sit down they go on their phone. It's so much! Though I know it’s part of the job, I just need a half-hour for me just so I can dial back a bit. Fifteen minutes before we go on, we're all standing backstage strapped up and ready to deliver the goods.
EP: Is there something you do to pass time on tour while in the van, bandwagon, or bus?
Sil: When you're driving in the bandwagon, bus, or whatever you have, a lot of the time people are in the lounge area just bullshitting. A majority of the time, everyone is in their bunk, having some personal time. Normally I'm talking to Victoria or watching Ghost Adventures. I also watch Sir Spooks [on YouTube]. I don't know, I watch all kinds of ghost and paranormal stuff [because] I think it's the coolest shit ever. Like, wow! There are three knocks so that must mean the devil, cool [haha].
EP: Moving forward, is there anything we can expect to see anytime soon?
Sil: From myself? Yeah, man! You're going to see a lot of music started coming out. I just want to saturate the world with different ways of seeing and hearing things, but I don't even know what that means yet. I just want to make stuff that's familiar, but different. I want people to hear my music and go, “I don't know if I like this. Do you like this? Yeah? Okay, I like this,” because people don’t always make decisions for themselves. You got to use the Jedi mind trick, “I don't think I like this, but you do like this,” or I'll just hate it and tank it all and be like “I quit. I’m done.”
EP: I look forward to hearing it! Is there anything else you'd like to say to anyone reading this?
Sil: Keep your head together and straight during these crazy times. It's a very crazy world right now but we’ll pull through it. I can't wait to see all of you on tour and be on stage again! Seriously, it's the worst. [It’s] like being in rehab as a drug addict. It's our drug, we need that because it's our release from frustration, too. I can't wait to do that again.