Franky Lee Bio:
With its explosive, full throttle rock sound, one would never guess that the striking debut disc from Franky Lee is the product of a drunken scheme. Yet the brutal energy and epic hooks yielded by this unified and muscular trio – which is the brainchild of frontman/guitarist Mathias Färm and counts some of Sweden’s finest, veteran punk musicians – is, in fact, just that.
“It started from the discussions that happen when you hang around with other musicians and get drunk,” laughs Färm, who also doubles as the guitarist in Millencolin. “You know, ‘Hey. We’ve got to play together. We need to do a band.’ Like a lot of musicians and wannabes, I’ve started, like, 25 bands in theory over the years although we’ve never rehearsed or written anything, which is sort of embarrassing. ‘Yeah... I’ll call you.’ But this is that kind of thing in a way, but then we actually came together and it clicked.
Once the hangovers parted, the group – also counting Millencolin guitar roadie and former Peepshows axe-wielder Magnus Hägerås and Randy drummer Fredrik Granberg – entered Färm’s studio and gave it a shot. “I had never actually sang in a band and I wanted to see if I could do it, so we recorded one song to give it a try. And it was no problem.”
Built from the newfound frontman’s arsenal of song ideas, which he had amassed over the past decade, the group – who nicked its name from a Bob Dylan obscurity – worked efficiently to put together an unflinching dozen-song cycle. “I might have had a riff for a long time that I wanted to turn into a complete song,” Mathias says. “We basically just sat down and said, ‘Let’s make twelve songs.’ We never rehearsed. We just went in and wrote and arranged the music. And when we perfected that we stopped.”
In an era where everything is hyped to death, it’s hard to believe a rock album can be faultless, but the brutal energy and hooks that embody the exceptionally sturdy set-opener “Solitary” roll onward into the fiery, alluring “Anti Freeze” and the metallic pop of “Cold Eyes.” Bringing to mind The Foo Fighters, Samiam, Jimmy Eat World, and stemming from the bands devotion to The Afghan Whigs, the roar of Franky Lee is as majestic as it is melodic.
As a trio with two guitarists who shared bass duties on the record (the band plans to add a bassist for hire for touring purposes), its little surprise that Mathias made the guitar sounds on the disc a priority. “I like guitars and guitar amps, so there was a lot of work and detail paid to those. On some of the darker heavier songs, the choruses have ten guitars layered out,” says Färm, who has recorded and worked with everyone from The Hives and 59 Times The Pain to Bombshell Rocks for Burning Heart.
As for the drums, they only took four days to track. “Magnus and Fredrik are really good, established musicians and I respect their opinions and can always rely on them. But the thing is, sometimes I can end up acting like a fucking dictator in the studio, and I know it. Especially about the guitars. It’s a cool thing to produce yourself but its also kind of scary. You have to trust yourself, but you never know if it’s good or bad or could be better.”
No mere side project for Färm, the punk veteran Mathia is dead serious about the future of Franky Lee and stoked about getting his rock on. “I love it,” he says. “When you start a new band, you don’t have any expectations in a way, because no one has ever heard you. Of course, people have ideas of how they want it to sound, but it is such a cool thing to make songs in this way because there’s no limit to it. You can do a ballad, or whatever.”
The closest Franky Lee gets to the latter is the hook-injected, mid-tempo anthem, “The World Just Stopped,” but Färm’s point is well taken. Hit worthy, pop-driven contagions like the hard rocking “Admit Defeat,” coupled by the insanely catchy run of winners like “Waiting To Go Off,” “Angles” and “Be Real,” assert that these gents have brought their A-game while branching out past the confines of punk. With nary a clunker in the pack, this trio has the undeniable, punchy fix rock & roll junkies have been longing for.
With the group’s live debut on the horizon, Färm confesses to having one lone apprehension. “My biggest concern is that my voice has to last an entire show. I’m actually taking classes just to learn how to make it sustain during gigs.”
“I guess the best thing is that when you’re a singer, you can sort of be an asshole,” Mathias smirks. “You know, ‘Uh. My throat’s bad. I have to get to bed,’ or whatever. At first I just really wanted to do this to prove to myself and everyone else that I could be the singer in a band.”
When it’s suggested that he’s met this goal now that he’s out in front of his own remarkable band, Färm’s perfectionist side gives way. “This has always been my dream,” he admits. “The problem is that one day I think its great and the next I think it sucks. Especially when I’m drunk.”
When he’s reminded that a) alcohol gave Franky Lee its wings and b) everyone’s their own worst critic, Färm cultivates a smile. “Okay, you got me,” he closes. “I’m really proud.”
As he should be. Just try to resist the charms of Franky Lee. I double-dog dare you.