Mar. 02, 2005 - Issue #489: Fool For Love
One conversation about 13 things
Electric Frankenstein hauls out the big guns for their monster 13th studio album
Playing a brand of brash, loud rock ’n’ roll that guitarist Sal Canzonieri describes as “AC/DC meets the Dead Boys,” Electric Frankenstein have been slogging it out in the underground for 13 years now without ever “making it big.” But considering that their songs have appeared on more than 100 recordings around the world, and Dark Horse Books just released a book of album covers and posters drawn for the band by artists like Coop, the Pizz and Dirty Donny, it’s not like Electric Frankenstein are a bunch of slouches, either.
According to Canzonieri, the band has turned down plenty of offers from the majors, preferring to work with more artist-friendly labels like Junk Records and TKO Records, where success is measured by more than just the number of units sold. “I never wanted to be one of these billion-selling things that played in stadiums,” Canzonieri says. “To be at that level, you’re playing for people that you don’t even like, you’re playing for people that don’t like you; they’re only there because they think they’re supposed to be there. That’s never going to get you satisfaction. I feel way more satisfied when I walk into a club and it’s packed and everyone there knows my songs and knows why they’re there. Maybe they came on the recommendation of somebody else, but they didn’t come because it was the cool thing to do.”
Electric Frankenstein has just released We Will Bury You!, a double-disc collection of wicked cover songs recorded over the last decade, as well as a couple reissues of older, out-of-print albums and their 13th EP, Super Cool, an assortment of odds and ends that never made the first cut. But the best is yet to come—since the band’s members are fans of campy horror, the number 13 holds a special significance for them, which means they’ve worked particularly hard on their 13th studio album, Burn Bright, Burn Fast, due out in April. “That’s the big, giant thing we’ve spent the last few years working on,” Canzonieri says, “and I did a lot of things that have never been done before for this record.”
Instead of finding a label to front the cash to record their magnum opus, Electric Frankenstein treated the project like an independent horror film and sought out like-minded backers who knew Canzonieri was serious about his vision and could pull it off. With $25,000 in their pocket, the band knew it was time to flick the switch on this monster. “Because we had so much money,” Canzonieri says, “I got a really great deal at a big, huge studio and we recorded, like, 56 tracks. There’s, like, 20 guitar tracks and 30 drum tracks, so it’s a giant-sounding punk record. We didn’t do it slick; we did it the total opposite. We made it sound huge, as if Led Zeppelin was a punk band, but left it raw and powerful.”
Flying completely in the face of convention, they’ve also deliberately been leaving their best songs unreleased—until now. “Every time we recorded an album,” Canzonieri says, “we left off the best song and we kept them all for the 13th album.”
In working with Electric Frankenstein and putting out the successful Fist Full of Rock ’n’ Roll compilations, Canzonieri has seen his share of great bands wallow in obscurity while pretty boys and girls with questionable talent prosper. But the worst, he says, has been seeing the snarling, ugly beast known as punk rock get its balls lopped off and resold as a safe alternative to the mainstream by bands like Good Charlotte and their misbegotten ilk. “Why do they say they’re punk?” he asks. “They dress like cartoons of punk and then they sound like the Knack. It’s just pop music—that’s what major labels have to sell. They repackage it and shove it in your face as something else, and I see a giant backlash against punk and rock because of those bands. There’s a lot of fanzines and things saying, ‘I hate rock and I hate punk’ and they only want to listen to noise music and stuff like that.
“And why?” he continues. “Because they were inundated with that garbage and that’s what they think punk and rock is about. [The big labels] have usurped the title; they stole it, and that’s why we stopped even calling ourselves that. We started just saying we’re rock because those bands have ruined it for punk for good. Sure, there’re people who know better—the record collectors and the critics—but that’s preaching to the converted.” V
With Black Market Inc. and Down for the Count • New City • Thu, Mar 10
New comments for this entry have been turned off and any existing ones are hidden. We apologize for any inconvenience.