Today Root Down in the Shadow released its latest Cover Club session with Philadelphia’s Katie Frank. The local singer played a cover of Joan Jett’s classic “I Love Rock n’ Roll,” accompanied by her bandmates Josh Werblun on acoustic guitar and Joe Bissiri on electric. The cover is a stripped-down version of the hit that really lets Frank’s voice shine, but sticks close enough to the Joan Jett original to show that Katie Frank & The Pheromones can battle any rock band. Watch the video below, and catch Frank this weekend at the Sundrop Music Festival at The Fire (check out the full lineup here).
“I feel so much more empowered when I’m onstage with the band,” says Katie Frank. “I can be timid when it comes to singing my songs.”
Timid. Hearing that word comes as a bit of a surprise since, in person, I’ve only seen Frank play with The Pheromones. With four other players and their loud amplifiers behind her, she’s energetic and sassy; her vocals are delivered with conviction and she doesn’t hesitate to bust her bandmates’ chops when the situation calls for it. That’s the antithesis of timid, right?
Then again, my first exposure to Frank was a solo acoustic video from Bands in the Backyard, and in it, we can see exactly what she’s talking about. Videographer Kyle Costill moves from side to side as she plays a sparse rendition of “False Alarm,” and the closer he brings the camera, the more she tries to look away. It’s almost like she’s uncomfortable with the whole idea of video in general, even as she plays her songs to the camera.
The difference there might be attributed to a newbie-ish performer as compared to a more seasoned player. The photographs on her releases tell a similar narrative – the “don’t take my picture” face on the cover of her pre-band EP Covered Bridge Road versus the much more poised and confident image on the new Counting Your Curses, where Frank looks like a freaking rockstar.
When I ask her about this, though, she laughs. She doesn’t deny it, but that isn’t quite how she sees things.
“Really, it’s just not as satisfying,” she says. “The rush I get from playing with the band, I don’t get that when I’m by myself.”
We’re grabbing beers at Bridgewaters with her longtime rhythm guitarist Josh Werblun, chatting about Curses and their respective paths that led to The Pheromones. Certainly its a catchy-as-heck name, kind of a sideways nod to Elvis Costello and The Attractions. But it also speaks to the collaborative nature of the group – of which Frank is the leader, but which she is wary of performing without.
She got started writing songs in 2005, when she was 15. At first she kept it mostly to herself, playing the occasional talent shows during her High School years in Elizabethtown, but never pursuing anything bigger. As a freshman at Temple in 2008, she took a pop songwriting class that provided a greater creative spark. The professor worked as a private songwriting coach, and Frank says her excited mom hired booked her some sessions with him. But the experience was dismaying.
“I’d drive in once a week, 90 minutes each way from E-town to Ambler, to work with him,” she said. “And he’d change two words in a song.”
Frustrated, she put her instrument away to focus on her behavioral health studies, and didn’t pick it up again until after graduation when she moved to West Philadelphia – which is where she met Werblun.
A guitarist and producer, Werblun has been involved in the local music community for over a dozen years – which is ridiculous when you consider he’s only 27. When he was 14, his parents took him to see his cousin Scott Bricklin play an early set at The Point with 4 Way Street – Bricklin’s supergroup with local XPN favorites Jim Boggia, Ben Arnold and Joseph Parsons – and the show made him realize his path in life was music. Continue reading →
She started out last year as a solo songwriter with an acoustic guitar, but it didn’t take Philly’s Katie Frank long to round up a band of rootsy country-rock players. The Elizabethtown native (and a therapist at an adult day center when she’s not onstage) began working with a variety of local players last spring, from Philly mainstay Jim Boggia to guitarist and producer Josh Werblun. As the band took shape, Frank dubbed them The Pheromones, and they add a rumbling, rambling Americana overdrive to her contemplative compositions. Today, the lineup consists of Jon McNally on drums, Kris Pirnat on bass and Kevin Killen on electric guitar in addition to Werblun and Frank; their tight and lively playing gives her confident vocals an opportunity to shine. This year the band wrapped up production on their debut LP Counting Your Curses, due out in August, and next Wednesday, July 17th, they take the stage at MilkBoy to open for the rather like-minded Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside. Get a taste of what’s in store with this week’s studio session, which you can stream and download below, and get info and tickets for the show here.
This afternoon XPN presents the Philly Local Busker Series at The Porch at 30th Street Station featuring Katie Frank & The Pheromones. Frank released her debut EP of heart-on-her-sleeve country pop / rock called Covered Bridge Road last September. The Temple University graduate and her band are currently working on a new album – stop by The Porch at noon to catch The Pheromones in action and maybe get a sneak peak of some of the new tracks. Below, watch a live performance filmed by Bands In the Backyard.
On their way to SXSW in March, Philly’s Thee, Idea Men stopped by WRVU in Nashville, TN with tourmates Katie Frank & The Pheromones, Dan Orlando and WC Lindsay. The group of local musicians performed a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” live on the Vanderbilt University radio station, with Orlando on keys and Lindsay behind the camera. Check out the footage below and see Thee, Idea Men live at MilkBoy on June 13th. Dan Orlando will be at Kennett Flash on June 1st. Tickets and information for both shows can be found here.
Local indie group Turning Violet Violet play Kung Fu Necktie tonight. The Key Studio Session alums carve out chamber alt-rock songs on the fringe of art-rock that seem bathed in a purple glow, though that might just be residual effects of their band name. Either way, the songs on Turning Violet Violet’s debut full-length Double Cure are swathe-y, sweeping compositions that strike all the right feelings chords. Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with TeamMate and Donora can be found here. Revisit Turning Violet Violet’s Key Session here and watch their video for “Cold Bread” below.
As if Ra Ra Riot isn’t already a solid reason to head to Union Transfer tonight, Richie Follin gives you another in a word: Guards. The younger brother of Cults’ Madeline Follin, Richie is equally talented and just as interested in the retro-pop sound that made his sister’s band so critically successful. Listening to Richie’s Guards EP from 2009 and the singles from his upcoming debut album, In Guards We Trust, it’s not surprising that Richie has played guitar for Cults when the duo toured. His music is distinct from his sister’s band, though, especially on the new album, even if his hair cut is …exactly like hers. Catch his polished, dark-tinged pop project when he opens for Ra Ra Riot. Tickets and information for the all ages show are available here. Below, watch Follin’s band in their new music video for the track “Silver Lining,” via IFC.com.
December’s Tuesday Tune-Out hosts Bands in the Backyard welcome the colorful indie rock of Thee, Idea Men and the folk rock of Katie Frank to PhilaMOCA for this week’s music and film event. Both bands released new music this year – Thee, Idea Men put out Getcho Groo Von in May and Katie Frank shared her debut EP Covered Bridge Road in September. Admission is $5 at the door for the all-ages show, and more information can be found here. Below, stream and download Thee, Idea Men’s “She’s Got the Wand.”
It’s the last month of 2012, meaning one final round of Tuesday Tune-Out showcases at PhilaMOCA. This month’s curators are the venerable Bands In The Backyard crew, who bring some adventurous pairings of music and film for the next three Tuesdays.
I knew that I dug what these guys were up to as soon as I saw their video of Ages playing in the back of Johnny Brenda’s. In the year and a half since then, they’ve faithfully documented the Philly scene in videos that range from lo-fi immediacy to multi-camera productions, showcasing the town’s up-and-coming acts as well as buzzing national bands that make their way through. I’m happy to welcome them to this space to talk about what they have in store for the December Tune-Out. All events are at PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th Street), start at 7:30 p.m. Continue reading →