Furious Frank
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Furious Frank

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Rock Folk

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Jun
09
Furious Frank @ Ribfest Chicago

Illinois, United States

Illinois, United States

Jun
17
Furious Frank @ Custer Street Fair

Evanston, Illinois, United States

Evanston, Illinois, United States

Jun
01
Furious Frank @ Reggies Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Music

Press


Whether you call their music klezmer punk or fractured folk, one thing is for sure – Chicago band Furious Frank is injecting a new sense of vibrancy into the music scene. - The Total Scene


What makes the tour through The Map & the Territory enjoyable is the diversity it offers, which was crafted through the influences of 10 musicians. From up-tempo and twangy country tunes (“Lonely Tombs”) to gypsy-spirited jazz and waltzes (“Bury Me”) to even Mariachi rhythms (“Czech Xmas in Texas”) – the album weaves stories of death, whiskey, and small towns into a variety of musical styles. There’s even a little Irish punk leaning (“Whiskey Row”). - Do312


On The Hobocamp Mud Show, Chicago collective Furious Frank transports listeners to a random watering hole in the middle of America, where the year is uncertain but the music is magnetic. Knee-slapping tunes like "The Coroner of Drifter's Creek" and "Hunkr Down" capture classic elements of acoustic Americana while "The Dividing Line" and "For the King" draw from the same foundation but add a grittier modern edge. It's familiar and unexpected all at once. - Max Herman




It is with a hoot, a holler, a hooley and much hubbub that Furious Frank announce their arrival to your stereo. Coming at your ears with near-criminal intent, "The Hobocamp Mudshow" is a wild and wonderful offering of sonic roots-rock with a slight Caribbean twist.

First, we steal into Mariachi territory on "Indianola". Interesting, considering it being a city in Mississippi. But it's the music we're on about. This could well be the music of a far-out marching band in Tijuana. And I mean that well - this is a fine opening track. The album does have one want of the listener: it wants you to dance. "Another Life" takes on a positively Baltic feel. Tempo tends not to stray much from a frantic pace which makes the listener's decision a whole lot easier. Dance, dummy, dance!

"Frank's Furious Eliksir" owes slightly to ska music but plenty of imagination on the part of the band negates the desire to fence in their sound. "Napun Seki" allows multi-instrumentalist Seung-a Park to assume lead vocals. Now they're threatening to go full-on oriental on the listener. However, since the instrumentation is so delightful, you won't mind. "Hunkr Down" is a little more conventional, sounding like a drunken Steve Earle meeting a now-sober Tom Waits on a chicken ranch. It must be said, this album is one hell of a journey. You'll feel slightly more cultured for having bought it.

Although maybe offering too much variety in the space of eight songs, it's testament to the effort of the band that such a scattergun effort can run so well. This was no shot in the dark. A glorious romp from start to finish.
- Peter McGee


"...Furious Frank is a group rather than one irate individual, and that communal spirit lends itself to an amiable vibe belying its surly moniker. The outfit's scrappy kitchen-sink concoctions easily rally an eager audience." - TimeOut Chicago


Putting out an altogether appealing brand of folk rock is Furious Frank, a rhythm and horn driven group that is a distinctly American answer to Gogol Bordello. Blending staccato sounds borrowed from gypsy folk and ska, Furious Frank mischievously wind their way through songs that jump with energy but also bend around themselves to create pleasantly distorted melodies that bring to mind carnival barkers and organ grinders.

There is a communal shout and smile aesthetic to Furious Frank; all through their songs the band calls and responds in syncopated unison. Their playing pulls in elements of Tom Waits’ wry candor, steppy polka lines, and undercurrents of nashville strings. Furious Frank’s ‘hobocamp’ is a little supergroup of sorts bringing in Travis Mariott from the alt-country group Horse Operas, Jason Taylor and Mason Payne from the soulful country rock group Otis Problem, and Jay Stanek from the Big Sky String Band.

Through wicked tracks like “The Coroner of Drifter Creek,” Furious Frank chugs and plucks along to grinning lyrics, “Lungs and livers / Tongues and feet / Never waste the meat,” all with a jolly nod to the days of boxcar travels and Ringling big tops. The fact that the lines are delivered with knowing melodrama–in a deep bassoon–juxtaposes the slight horror with humor, like making making Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” into a musical comedy.

The bounding rhythms and playacting showmanship of the group never feels forced, you can tell that the group is enjoying themselves as they carousel the listener around their jittery brand of folk. Every off key and disconcerting lyric is situated for full effect, and the results are assuredly fun." - Jordan Brown


I also spoke this week with Mason Payne of the Chicago neuf-tet Furious Frank, who will be playing The Brass Rail the week after Harley Poe, on June 4th with The Staggerers. With a sound akin to throwing Gogol Bordello, Los Straightjackets, The Specials, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot into a blender (I mean that in a good way, I assure you), Furious Frank creates music that makes you wonder why you never thought to put a ukulele next to a trumpet and add a dance beat. “The original idea came from me and a guy who is no longer in the band,” Payne said. “We wanted to create a mariachi band that did 80’s cover songs, and call it Roberto Duran Duran. But we can’t play mariachi music, and I can’t stand 80’s music, so that never really happened.”

What did happen is that Payne recruited musicians from a wide range of backgrounds, such as jazz, country-punk, and even a friend who was a former high school marching band trombonist. With everyone adding their own musical spin, it all came together to make what Payne describes as “an americana-mexicana-punk-ska thing.” With violins, guitar, bass and drums rounding out the mix, Payne confessed that he wasn’t sure it was all going to work at first. “We recruited the nine people that we are now, and all along I kind of figured that it would dwindle down as the fist few months of a band go by and you try to write and learn new songs. But everyone stuck around, and we got better shows, and we got a good album done. So now there’s nine people in the band, and still have to figure out how to transport all of them. But I think it’s all working out.”

Since getting together in the spring of 2007, Furious Frank has gone on to play with such notable acts as Bottle Rockets, Ike Reilly, Robbie Fulks, and Devil Makes Three, and in 2009 released Hobocamp Mud Show, which Payne described as “the Ed Wood approach to recording. Very quick and dirty; very low-fi.” They have recently finished recording a new album, which Payne summed up by saying “this time around it was really nice to have the opportunity for everyone to learn the songs before recording them.”

All of this self-deprecation and half-joking way of speaking might lead some people to believe that the members of Furious Frank don’t take their music seriously. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Payne is a funny guy, but there’s no way Furious Frank’s music could work without a lot of hard work. That kind of work ethic is apparent on songs like “Another Life,” and “The Coroner of Drifters Creek.” These tracks showcase a band that, for all their quirks, make truly orchestrated music that shouldn’t work, but does. The first is a good picture of the mariachi-esque music Payne initially described, with great horn lines and the back-and-forth 5ths of the bass. It’s a great song, but “Drifters Creek” takes you by surprise with its syncopated counterpoint (if there is such a thing. My theory is a bit rusty) between the horns and stringed instruments, and stylistic leaps between gypsy music, western swing, and punky guitar. It’s infectious music, and I am really interested to see how it sounds live with all of those musicians crammed onto The Rail’s stage. - Ben Larson


Discography

A Series of Accidents, April 2016
The Map & the Territory, 2012 (Southern Love Records)  
The Hobocamp Mud Show, 2009 (Southern Love Records)


Photos

Bio

Furious Frank is a formidable yet friendly group of Chicagoans who are diligently working at the perfection of a unique yet warmly familiar brand of rootsy sonic spillage. Sometimes they are raucous and celebratory, at other times gritty and introspective; they can vamp, chug, clang, wail, groove and pluck (+ strum) string, one moment recklessly rocking the party and then at another expertly bringing down the level of intensity just enough so that two people can, if they so choose, clasp hands and sway. Furious Frank can concoct some wicked gypsy ska one moment, border on something approximating a low-key collaboration between Tom Waits and Calexico the next, and most importantly, bob and weave into a heavy handful of welcome areas that are much less easy to define.

Suffice to say, the band kick up some serious dust that just screams out for a bonfire and a large metal pot full of some sort of simmering sustenance, an epicurean delight that's destined to be ladled out liberally for the enjoyment of everyone. But the band (at just the right moment) wet down the ground that's hosting their righteous get-down with the intention that the limbs of those cavorting to their sounds will joyously stomp into the moist soil and allow the thick earthiness to get between their toes and through their pores and into their blood and (finally) into their hearts and consciousness. That, bluntly put, is what Furious Frank is all about. Getting dirty never felt so liberating. Ya dig?


-Joseph Neff, The Vinyl District

Band Members