This blog is dedicated to all things Frank – past, present and future.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Me, Drinking Coffee



I told you it was me drinking coffee.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Get On Your Bikes and Ride! (6/10/11)


Casey's confidence is amazing after just a few weeks without training wheels.

The song is "Ride Your Bike!", by Money Mark.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jagunda (2001-2002)

I had been playing improvised music with ambibat and FrankenHöff since 1996 and I was jonesing to rock out again. So I wrote a few songs and enlisted some old friends to help record them (Jim Burns, Kevin Purcell and Joe Kollar).

At first I entertained having two basses (Jim had been dabbling with the bass), but I still didn't have a drummer. Jim stepped up and said he'd give it a go. As long as I've known Jim he's always been playing drums on everything around him (ie: school desk, his knees, steering wheel), but I've never actually seen him behind a kit. Even when we were in the Barking Spiders I never really saw him behind the drum kit...at least not seriously. But he wailed.

We narrowed down my potential songs and worked on four of them. The guys also decided to use stage names for the project – they had their street cred to protect – so I used my Franklin Mint handle which Kevin gave me many moons ago. When I felt comfortable we had the songs down pat I booked some studio time and this is what we captured...

"2099"


"Me & My Ego"


"Chill Out"


"Happy Birthday"


After recording the four songs I asked the guys to improvise something in the key of "E" – before dismantling our gear. Joe doesn't do the improv thing so he packed up while Kevin, Jim and I went nuts. I overdubbed a bunch of guitars and actually made a song out of it. To me it has a Butthole Surfers vibe to it so I called it "Surfin'".

"Surfin'"


You can also download the EP below...

[DOWNLOAD] Jagunda (2002)
1- 2099
2- Me & My Ego
3- Chill Out
4- Happy Birthday
5- Surfin'

Thursday, June 23, 2011

ambibat II (2000-2001)


ambibat (part II)

In 2000, Eric left ambibat and joined the country band Earl Pickens and the Black Mountain Marauders. (Earl Pickens is the alter ego of my friend Billy Kelly. You may know Billy from the music videos I've made for him. I've also posted a few Earl Pickens shorts, too.)

Eric's departure didn't stop ambibat. We quickly filled his position with Doug Walker on arp odyssey synthesizer. Doug was in Alien Planetscapes with Chris and Blaise, and he was always at our shows anyway so he was a good fit. Doug had a more aggressive approach to his playing than Eric so ambibat became darker and heavier – which was the direction I wanted to go in.

In 2001, I took the new ambibat into the studio to record our second album, Fresh Blood – the title having a double meaning: Doug being the new blood in the band and a play off the album cover art I drew when I was 7 years old (you can see the original here). The album is pretty heavy and I'm very proud of it. I'm particularly pleased with my guitar playing because I was truly playing free. On the first ambibat album I was still relying heavily on my sampler pedals as a crutch. I'd say Fresh Blood is as good, if not better, than anything I heard come out of the experimental improv scene from that time period. My only wish is that Eric played drums on it.

Here's a few choice cuts...

"Bloodthirsty"


"Prowling The Midnight Walker"


"The Nightmare Begins"


"Eyes In The Dark"


You can also download the album below...


[DOWNLOAD] ambibat - Fresh Blood (2001)
01- The Nightmare Begins
02- Full Moon
03- Bloodthirsty
04- Prowling The Midnight Walker
05- Through The Fog
06- Heartbeat
07- Pray Prey
08- Eyes In The Dark
09- Synapse Relapse
10- Cold Sweats


ambibat (mach II)
Frank Fusco - guitar, turntable/tape deck/radio, electronics
Chris Altenhoff - bass, arp odyssey, tapes, electronics
Blaise Siwula - saxophone, reeds, mandolin, laptop
Doug Walker - arp odyssey

(R.I.P. Doug Walker 4/4/06)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FrankenHöff (1998-2001)

During our years in ambibat (last post), Eric and I would often get together to do some 4-track recordings as a duo. It was still improv but it leaned more towards the ambient than ambibat. As FrankenHöff – that's what we called ourselves – Eric and I played a few shows at ABC No-Rio and Spiral.

In 2000, Eric and I decided to take FrankenHöff into the studio. For the recording we recruited Chris Altenhoff (ambibat bassist) – his last name has "hoff" in it so it's all good. As a trio we recorded a few hours of improvisations on the sci-fi tip.

As I was listening back to the tapes during the next few weeks a story began to take shape in my head. I figured if we took a passage here, a section there, record some extra layers, add some found sound, and piece them together, it could play like a soundtrack to a lost sci-fi film. In the end, FrankenHöff Battle To Save The World And The Girl, Too! turned out to be a pretty cool recording.


Here's a few cuts from FrankenHöff Battle To Save The World And The Girl, Too! Some are edits because the songs are pretty long. Like this first one, it's just the ending to track "I"...

"I" (The Dawn of a New Day)


Track "II" is basically two tracks strung together so here there are separated...

"II" (The Search for a Female Specimen...The Unsuspecting Town of Bellmore)


"II" (The Abduction)


Track "III" I decided to leave in it's entirety because it works best that way...

"III" (Trapped in the Prison Cell of the Overlord...The Escape...Send Our Fleet A Flyin')


Track "IV" is also in it's entirety, it's a short one...

"IV" (Theme from Battle To Save The World And The Girl, Too!)


You can also download the whole album below...


[DOWNLOAD] FrankenHöff - Battle To Save The World And The Girl, Too! (2000)
01- I
02- II
03- III
04- IV


FRANKENHÖFF
Frank Fusco - guitar, turntable/tape deck/radio, electronics
Eric Hoffman - synthesizer, drums, electronics
Chris Altenhoff - bass, arp odyssey, electronics

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ambibat (1996-2000)


ambibat (part I)

My experience in Stretch Arm Strong (last post) left me disenchanted with playing music in a band. I felt I had compromised my song writing so I quit playing music for three years. In November of '95 I started jamming with Eric Hoffman (The Intellectuals/Face Value) as a duo. Eric lived in the same building as me so it had to happen eventually. At first we were working on some new songs I had written but then we took it in a totally different direction.

We were listening to a lot of jazz at the time, specifically free-jazz. Eric and I started adding some improvised sections in the middle of our songs, then it evolved to improvisation only. Eric also started playing synthesizer and trumpet and less and less drums. To fill out the sound I developed a technique using sampler pedals where I'd layer multiple drones upon my playing. The ambibat sound started to take shape.

After almost a year playing together as a duo we felt confident in this new style to put ads in the New York Press looking for like-minded people. We jammed with a bunch of weirdos – 'cause that's the kind of people this music attracts – until we clicked with Blaise Siwula, a veteran in the experimental improv scene. Blaise recommended we jam with Chris Altenhoff, a bass player he played with in the space-rock band Alien Planetscapes. And that was ambibat.

We jammed for a few months...feeling each other out...improvising. Eric and Chris adopted my sampler technique on bass and synth so at times it sounded like there were 20 musicians in ambibat. We then booked a bunch of shows at places like Knitting Factory, Pyramid, Spiral, Acme Underground, CB's Gallery, and ABC No-Rio. Blaise is the curator for C.O.M.A. (Creative Out Music Association), a weekly Sunday night series dedicated to improvised music at ABC No-Rio, so we played there a lot.


In 1998, ambibat went into the studio and recorded our self-titled album. We basically improvised for four hours straight, until the engineer ran out of tape. We pulled the best moments and mixed them down. I shopped it around a little...got some good response...until Loud Dust Recordings agreed to distribute a hand full for a limited time. I never saw a dime – if they sold any at all – and I completely forgot about it. That is until I recently did a quick Google search for ambibat. Seems as if they're still hawking it, and even re-released it on March 22, 2005. It's on iTunes, Amazon, emusic, napster, and a slew of other music sites – you can even get ambibat in ringtones. I may need to speak to a lawyer.

Here's a few select songs from ambibat (1998)...

"A Long Way From Home"


"Pylon Transmission"


"Open"


"When We Knew How To Fly"


You can also download the album below...


[DOWNLOAD] ambibat (1998)
01- Yellow Liquid, Red Lava
02- This Is My Robot
03- Open
04- When We Knew How To Fly
05- Pylon Transmission
06- A Long Way From Home
07- Cascade Valley
08- The Ketchup Episode
09- Linstead Lane/Spring
11- Denouement [A Simple Conversation]
12- I Leave The 20th Century With No Regrets


You may recognize some of the above drawings from The Devils Lived Book – a book I made when I was a child (here).

ambibat
Frank Fusco - guitar, turntable/tape deck/radio, electronics
Eric Hoffman - drums, synthesizer, trumpet, recorder, electronics
Chris Altenhoff - bass, arp odyssey, tapes, electronics
Blaise Siwula - saxophone, reeds, mandolin, laptop

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stretch Arm Strong (1991-1992)


In April of '91 I started jamming again with Kevin Purcell and John Hoffman. The years had past since we were in Barking Spiders (here) and we became better musicians so we started writing more intricate songs. We called ourselves Stretch Armstrong, after the 1970's doll. It started off as casual but by summer we decided to get serious and find a singer. For the first time we chose to go outside our circle of friends and put an ad in a local music paper. Jim Burns (Barking Spiders singer) was shuffling off to Buffalo State College, otherwise I'm sure he would've been our man.

After numerous auditions we settled on Dean Mastrantoni (a.k.a. Dean Drillbit). Dean had different influences than us. He came from a goth/new wave background, while we were punk rock. With Dean's influences we became more of a goth-rock band, which we were comfortable with...at first.

We tweaked our name to three words – Stretch Arm Strong – and recorded our first demo tape in February of '92 on a 4-track recorder in my basement. Looking back I wish Kevin and I eased up on the chorus pedal a bit...but that was the early 90's sound. With the tape we booked a bunch of shows at small local venues. In August of '92 we recorded seven more songs on 4-track in my basement but by then Dean and I were at constant odds so we soon called the whole thing off.

Here's a few select songs from the two demo recordings...

"Lift The Shades"


"Pangs Of Liquid Inertia"


"Dreams Of Youth"


"Rage Asunder"


"Secular Vow"


You can also download the combined demo recordings below...


[DOWNLOAD] Stretch Arm Strong (1992 demo)
01- Dreams Of Youth
02- Lift The Shades
03- Rage Asunder
04- Spiral Faces (alternate version)
05- Pangs Of Liquid Inertia
06- In The Oven
07- S.A.S.
08- Secular Vow
09- Look Out
10- Why?...Pathetic Humans
11- Matter Of The Mind
12- The Bridge
13- Spiral Face (original version)


I can't say no good ever came from Stretch Arm Strong because that band was the first time we ever played the legendary CBGB's. Here's a couple of photos...


STRETCH ARM STRONG
Dean Drillbit - vocals, guitar
Frank Fusco - guitar
Kevin Purcell - bass
John Hoffman - drums

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Barking Spiders (1987-1989)


After Face Value broke up (last post), Jim and I still wanted to be in a band. The problem was finding other musicians who were into hardcore music. We tried to get Eric back but he was still playing with The Intellectuals so he wasn't interested. So what do you do when you can't find musicians?... You make them. It didn't take much to convince Kevin Purcell (who'd left The Intellectuals) to learn bass and our friend John Hoffman to learn the drums. Since it was a new band we also changed our name to Barking Spiders.

We already had two songs from Face Value so we started practicing on those. It was pretty shaky at first. Eric Hoffman was just an amazing drummer so John couldn't replicate the crazy tom rolls on "Watch Out!", which was expected, but he still couldn't play it two years later!

During the two years Barking Spiders were a band, besides playing a few school related shows, we only played three legit shows – all at Diamond Lil's/Dry Rock Cafe. It's too bad we never went into a studio for a proper recording. Towards the end we were actually pretty good.


Here's a few select songs from a basement boombox tape we made in 1989...

"One World"


"Power Struggle"


"Spin"


"You Can't Say"


"Presidents & Kings"


If you'd like you can download the whole tape below...


[DOWNLOAD] Barking Spiders - Live In The Lovely Basement (1989)
01- The Barking Spider
02- Spin
03- Peace Thru Chaos
04- All Talk, No Action
05- One World
06- Find Some Time
07- You Can't Say
08- Watch Out!
09- Power Struggle
10- Separate Ways
11- Presidents & Kings
12- Watkinized (Lost Weekend)


BARKING SPIDERS
Jim Burns - vocals
Frank Fusco - guitar
Kevin Purcell - bass
John Hoffman - drums

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Face Value (1987)

After having a taste at playing with a band (last post), I wanted to start my own. I began talking with a classmate, Jim Burns, about it. (Jim was the first Intellectuals singer, before being replaced.) He was also into hardcore music, like myself. Jim invited me to his house to work on some songs and that day we wrote "All Talk, No Action" and "Watch Out!".

We needed a rhythm section so we got our friends Steve Zielinski to play bass and Eric Hoffman on drums. (Eric was also drumming for The Intellectuals.) We called ourselves Face Value and we got a few jams in before Steve went to Ireland for the summer. We had all intentions at continuing the band once Steve got back, but when he returned his political views no longer gelled with Jim's so he quit. Eric followed.


Below is the only known Face Value recording, which I believe was our first jam. (We also recorded ourselves at Flipside Studios but that tape is long gone). It was recorded in my basement and we didn't have a PA system so Jim just screamed into the boombox mic. Joe Kollar, Kevin Purcell (both from The Intellectuals) and I think our friend Mike Maher were there so they added some backup vocals on "All Talk, No Action"Kevin screws up the middle section.

"Watch Out!"


"All Talk, No Action"


I particularly like Steve's intro bassline to "Watch Out!", it's extremely sloppy but very punk. And Eric's just an amazing drummer. I really think this band could've been great...if we all could've got along.

FACE VALUE
Jim Burns - vocals
Frank Fusco - guitar
Steve Zielinski - bass
Eric Hoffman - drums

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Stoked"


When I was 16 I started learning how to play the guitar. I was partly inspired to learn after seeing The Intellectuals (photo right) perform on a couple of occasions. The Intellectuals were four guys/friends in my class who, for the most part, played '60s garage rock cover tunes, but they had a few originals, too.

The Intellectuals guitarist, Joe, invited me to his house one day to jam. He showed me how to play "Purple Haze", and a song he wrote called "Stoked" – a hardcore skateboard anthem. Joe said the next time The Intellectuals played La Serayña – a local teen hangout – he'd invite me onstage to play it with them. The Intellectuals were cool like that, having guest musicians/singers.

On May 22, 1987, The Intellectuals had a show at La Serayña and I was invited onstage to play "Stoked". Joe switched over to bass, leaving me with full guitar duties. I'd only just begun to learn the instrument and I'd never played with a full band, let alone in front of a crowd, so I was pretty nervous. The whole experience flew by so fast. It felt like it was over in a minute – mainly because the song was only a minute long – but from then on I was hooked. I enjoyed playing music with a band in front of an audience.

All I needed now was a band.

The Intellectuals (w/ Frank Fusco) - "Stoked" @ La Serayña (5/22/87)