Frank and Steve: Bio
Frank and Steve first meet during their college days in the 1970s.
“I had been banging Rock and Roll on electric guitar for 5 years,” explains Steve, duo spokesperson. “Frank came from Folk Music. It was two different worlds.”
Then artists like Crosby, Stills, & Nash emerged, and suddenly main stream rock had a niche for soft acoustic guitars. “It became cool.” Steve says.
A convert to acoustic rock, Steve accepted Frank’s invitation to form a cover band that toured the coffeehouse circuit. But after each rehearsal- when other band mates went home- Frank and Steve hung out to compose songs. “We were both natural writers,” Steve explains, “Everyone else in the band wanted to sound like the radio.” It became apparent that the pair enjoyed writing more than working in a band. “It was all about the fun factor,” Steve says.
After a few introverted years together, Frank and Steve joined forces with another duo to form an “all original song” band. “That didn’t go over too well with the bar owners,“ Steve admits, “But they loved us at the Bitter End.” (Manhattan’s famous showcase club for new musical talent where Bob Dylan did his internship).
However, the lure of money eventually convinced the band to modify their strategy and start playing covers of hit songs. Looking back, Steve admits: “We sold out.” Their dream of playing original songs fell by the wayside. “We went where the money was,” Steve explains. “Country rock was booming. We followed the trail blazed by the film ‘Urban Cowboy’.”
They landed some prestigious gigs, opening for both Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, as well as backing up Roy Rodgers in New York City. But their hearts weren’t in it. “Playing music just became another job,” Steve says.
By the mid 1980s the bar scene grind was taking its toll with inner band squabbles and broken marriages. Speaking for himself, Steve confesses: “I was doing 9 gigs a week, playing music I hated to an audience I disrespected, with band mates I couldn’t get along with. But most of all I was disappointed in myself for having drifted so far from my dreams.”
Separately, both Frank and Steve came to the decision that bar gigs must end. “We admitted we just weren’t performers cut out to be jumping around on a stage. We were song writers.”
Both men returned to the introverted seclusion of writing and recording in home studios. They learned to be competent on several instruments, Frank leaning toward stringed instruments like guitar and bass, earning a living not only by selling instruments, but also by repairing and building them. Steve explored the possibilities of keyboards, piano and organ, and chose to earn a living outside the music industry.
At the same time, advancing technology was making big changes in the way the duo wrote. “When we first met, we were recording on a primitive 1960 era one track dictation machine,” Steve remembers. “Over the years we’ve advanced to a 24 track digital studio.”
The duo admits that recording is a vital part of their writing style. “You get instant audio feedback on your song,” Steve says. “Does the melody work with that chord pattern? How would a sax sound here?”
These days, Frank and Steve are amazed at the technology available. “We have a library of sample sounds, every instrument you can imagine,” Steve says. “All those instruments can be played via a piano keyboard interface, overdubbed onto previous performance tracks, and interwoven to create the sound of a 20 piece orchestra.” But even with all the wizardry, Frank and Steve believe the song itself is the most important ingredient in a successful recording.
That’s what Frank and Steve seem to be ultimately striving for, to write songs with emotion and feeling. “We’re Baby Boomers,” Steve admits. “We write the kind of songs a person with 60 years of life experience would write. Mature songs about emotion and pain. Loss and heartbreak.”
Frank and Steve credit every major artist from the 1940s right up to today’s emerging contemporary talent as influences on their style. “We are the sum total of every piece of music we have ever loved,” Steve says. “We just went back to the basics,” Steve explains. “We write and record the stuff we love… because that’s what’s the most fun to do.”