They say you can judge a person by the company they keep, and in the case of Frank Viele’s new album Fall Your Way, this includes super-talented special guests and regular band members such as Joe Bonomassa, Tim Palmieri, Bill Holloman, Adrian Tramontano, Kris Jensen, Tom Barraco, Max Capello, Michael “G” Gurge and Brandan Wolfe. Here at RUST Magazine we’re big fans of Frank and we’ve already posted about his Simpsons-inspired video “Easy Money” and now we’ve been able to talk to him about music, friends and this particular moment in his life.
Frank Viele is a class act. His music has all the strengths of the great FM era rock writers, and there’s an energy and enthusiasm that comes through in both large and small ways. His music that is original and powerful, but it keeps a balance with light-heartedness and observations of the comical aspects of being human. It’s music earned through life struggles and miles traveled. And people are starting to take notice. Frank was named Music Act of the Year at the New England Music Festival and the recognition he has been getting has been from his peers, many of whom he has opened for on his many performances.
Fall Your Way is a rock-solid classic rock album from beginning to finish. It heralds back to days when all you needed was a groovy song and a sunny day for everything to be alright with the world. It’s a soundtrack to good times, made with good friends, and the rest of us are very lucky that we can share the moment via these recordings. With so much going on, and so many people involved, we were curious to see how Frank felt about the recording process and the final songs… so we asked him what he thought and here he is in his own words:
Broken Love Song
RUST: So this track features a guest appearance from Joe Bonamassa. Is that guy a freakin’ rock star or what?!
FV: That’s an understatement. Ridiculous tone, ridiculous talent, amazingly soulful, and simply impeccable taste and feel. I’ll never be able to fully describe the feeling I had when I first heard his recording on my track.
RUST: This song is so much fun! Really there’s a great overall energy here, and a great horn arrangement. What can you tell us about where this song came from and who helped make it what it is?
FV: I guess I find it enjoyable to make people groove to a song that actually comes from a lyrical standpoint, a hopeful yet slightly disillusioned or melancholy love song.
The first line of the song is “Do You Know The Way to California, because you found the way to my heart.” I wrote the early beginnings of this song after my sophomore year of college when, instead of going home to my girlfriend, I went to NYC, slept on an old friend’s couch, interned at Virgin Records during the day in the mailroom, and at night started playing gigs in the grimiest of clubs the New York City area had to offer.
My significant other and I didn’t go to the same college, so we had looked forward to the summer when we could spend all of our time together. But I had a dream of “making it” as a musician and when the opportunity to grind it out for a summer in the city came my way, I had to take it. So that first lyric was simply asking her if she’d stick by me along this artistic journey I was embarking on.
This song proved tough to finish back then, and it kind of sat on the back burner in my notebook for years. But when working on this album, watching this whole story unfold, and looking back on where it all began, that first summer spent as an “artist” in the city really stuck out in my mind. Simply because it was the first of what would be many times that I chose pursuing my artistic dreams over everything else I held dear to my heart. In this case, my college sweetheart, whose name started with a “K,” hence the title, spelled as “Kalifornia”.
How Dare You Say You’re Sorry
RUST: The last few years have forced you to make some hard personal decisions. Is that what this song is about?
FV: How Dare You Say You’re Sorry is about losing a significant other to forces or reasons outside of your understanding. Relationships are funny in that sometime the harder you try, the more fragile they become. I was always the one who was walking away. In most cases, I was leaving to go play music.
But in the story surrounding this song, that wasn’t the case. Simply put, she unexpectedly left with nothing but an “I’m Sorry.” And when somebody hurts you, you are supposed to be angry. But when they say nothing but “I’m Sorry,” it really messes with you in a way that I still have a hard time fully describing. However, I started playing this song live late last year, and almost every time I played it somebody in the crowd would approach me after the show and tell me how much that song meant to them. Basically what I found out through writing this song is that having a relationship end because something obvious happened hurts, but it hurts so much worse when you don’t know the reason why.
RUST: This song is a little slower and sweeter. Where did it come from?
FV: When people ask me about my inspiration sometimes, I laugh and jokingly say that women are like Rubik’s Cubes to me. They are simply puzzles that I cannot figure out. Hence the first line in this song when I sing “you’ve been screaming and laughing all at once”.
On the whole however, this is a sweet song about trying to make it through the rocky parts of a relationship. Whether it’s pursuing a career or following a dream, the go-go lifestyle most of us tend to fall into will, from time to time, get in the way of the little moments in life that mean so much.
The song is asking my significant other to stay strong through all of this craziness because even though we’re not following the same path as everybody else, things are going to work out for us in the end. That’s where the chorus lyrics ring true and I sing “we’ll laugh about the time we lost, how fools rush in, and paper’s got it cost. My sweet Alexa, honey don’t you fret. A lot’s gone wrong but babe we ain’t finished yet”.
RUST: We LOVE the music video to this song. What can you tell us about making the video? Who were some of the people involved?
FV: The people you meet along this journey can be truly inspiring, and one of the most artistically inspiring people I’ve met over the last 10 years is my dear college friend Michael Guenther. He designed my first band’s logo over a few cheap beers on a cocktail napkin at a bar next to our college. He’s been doing my websites, cover art, and posters ever since.
When we decided to release one song off the album early to just to get ball rolling, I picked Easy Money because it was the most “left field” track on the record and it honestly just felt like a swinging TV theme song! It came together in such an amazing way with the fellas from Kung Fu crushing it. I was just so excited to get it out into the world. We decided we needed a music video and the track just screamed old school cartoon. So I called my buddy Mike and said, I think it’s time you take your art skills to a new level and make me a cartoon! The rest is history.
When You Gonna Come Home
RUST: Again, this song sounds like it has roots in the personal stormy waters you’ve had to negotiate. You’ve been touring a lot lately so the question we have for you is whether this song comes from forces outside of you – or inside.
FV: This song is about being emotionally involved with somebody who simply has wanderlust. As I began playing it live on my longer tours, it definitely took on a different meaning as a simple reminder that while I get to meet amazing people every time I go, I do have to leave the people that I love behind for a while.
Tonight I Must Leave Your Arms
RUST: This is absolutely our favorite song on the whole album. The instrumental narrative is just so beautiful… what was going on in your heart when you were recording this track?
FV: It sounds kind of crazy, but when I recorded the guitars and vocals for this track, I had to turn all of the lights off in the studio because I wanted to remember the night I wrote this song word for word in my head laying in my bed in the middle of the night, with a woman who meant the world to me asleep to my left.
This is a song about that very fragile time in a relationship when you’re still together but you just know that things are not right. The hardest thing is realizing that as much as you want a relationship to work, sometimes the person you love is better off without you because you cannot give them what they need or what they deserve. In a way, you’re hurting their chances of finding what they deserve by holding on to them so tightly. That’s where the final line in the song speaks “so I give my final kiss, ‘cause indeed it’s time to run, and I look over your face at the damage I have done, and I know tonight, I must leave your arms”.
Monsters in the Hall
RUST: What we like about this song is the old-school classic sound it has. It’s got a vintage coolness and grooviness and it plays out easy and free. Where does this song come from?
FV: This song is very dear to my heart, and I rarely if ever talk about the intricacies of the inspiration behind it. So long story short, my mother went through some tough times when I was in my mid-teens and I became determined to be the person who would protect her from the unfortunate situations that she had to endure. As a child, a hug from your mother can make all your problems go away, so in a role reversal of sorts, the line in the chorus and bridge of this song simply speaks to that, “stay in my arms, you’re gonna be safe”.
Someday I’m Going To Make You Mine
RUST: This song is a classic groover. The instrumentation and arrangement is easy and free but there’s a sense of an important issue or feeling lying unresolved beneath the smooth exterior. It sounds like you are longing for a resolution to a life issue?
FV: This is a track about impatiently waiting on the sidelines for the one you want and watching them be mistreated by somebody else. They know you’ll be good to them, but they can’t separate themselves from the tough situation they are in. So you find yourself struggling between trying too hard and not trying hard enough, hence the line “Every time I see your pretty face, it makes me wanna be a better man, but girl I’ve grown oh so weary, so won’t you take me as I am”.
You Don’t Have To Go
RUST: Again, we’re hearing family vs. career in this song, but this track is definitely faster and more aggressive. We hear regret too, but is there more anger at work here?
FV: Everybody needs an angry rock song. This is me, sitting at my piano drinking a bottle of Johnny Walker 10 minutes after she walked out the door angry over something I said or in this case, didn’t say.
Personally I’ve found that expressing myself a-melodically is very difficult. Singing and playing music has always been my way of expression and simply speaking my feelings has never really been an easy task for me. In the case of this track, I wrote it right after a fight that was started because I rarely said “I love you” and it made my significant other angry. Hence the line “I know you don’t ever hear me say that I love you girl, but I need your love, it’s strange”
Kick Up Your Heels
RUST: Not only is this just a great rocker, but it’s got a super sound to it. The production is excellent on the whole album but we really hear it on this track, can you tell us who was turning the knobs and dials in the control room?
FV: That’s Vic Steffens! He let me have a lot of fun on this one. The track started with my acoustic guitar, but I would later get to bring in all my effects pedals, including my vintage Jordan Phaser, my Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone, and RMC Wha Pedal from the early ‘80s, and record some really cool solos and funky little rhythm parts. Not to mention Bill Holloman, who’s spent a lot of his career ripping with Nile Rogers and Chic, came in on the horns and absolutely rained all over the tune!
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
RUST: Another really nice and personal song. Maybe for this one you could tell us a little about your band and what makes them each right to be “your band”?
FV: I could talk about this song for hours as it’s my favorite Bob Dylan song off of my favorite Bob Dylan album, Blood On The Tracks. But for now I’ll simply say the many artists can write a song about being in love and many can write songs about being out of love. Bob Dylan’s perspective, the unique angles and view points he writes from, is one of the things that makes him so great. Only Bob Dylan can write a song about being in love and anticipating being out of love.
I Just Don’t Know
RUST: This is really a fitting wrap-up to the album. Kind of like a long day where the last light makes you look at things in a different tone. What’s the message you want to say with this song?
FV: It’s amazing how sometimes you sit down with a guitar, and without trying a song just pours out of you. This is a song I wrote the day somebody special walked out of my life. It describes the thoughts that run through your head of whether or not you meant as much to her and she meant to you. It’s a simple plea to the forces beyond one’s control to have her journey lead her back to you, with the realization that you’ll never really know how you ended up with her or without her, and that if you’re ever going to have her again in many ways, all you can do is hope.