By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: First of all, thank you very much for taking the time with me today. How did the band come together?
FF: I started playing coffee shops and events when I was about 14 as a solo artist. Blake started playing shows right out of college. Blake and I are cousins. Joey (drummer) played for various punk/rock bands since he was in high school. Joey and I moved to Tennessee to start a band. That didn’t work out and we moved back to Texas to join forces with Blake. Joey and I got married last year. Rodney (bass player) joined about a month ago. So, we are really a family.
DK: What sort of musical backgrounds does each of you have? And has anyone taken any classes for their respective instruments?
FF: I was raised on James Taylor, Carol King and a lot of country/folk influenced music. I later developed a taste for rock and pop music on my own. Blake was raised on much of the same music but more on the country side. He later found solace in music that was more lyrical and intriguing like Alice in Chains, etc. Joey was raised on pop music and is currently a lover of all types of music. I guess we all find music in any form to be intriguing.
I took 2 guitar lessons when I was about 13 years old. I hated them. I was too hard headed and decided to teach myself. Blake taught himself guitar. Joey did the same. Music and the process of learning to play came natural at our core instruments. I just bought a keyboard, so one of us has to learn that next.
DK: You list yourselves as Singer/Songwriter and Pop, but you definitely have some Country influences as well. What other genres of music have sculpted Blake and Fallon?
FF: We have such a melting pot of different genres that we love. However, our favorites are quite different. Blake’s favorites include Willie Nelson (which is definitely country) and David Gray. Mine are Counting Crows (which Blake disagrees with…ha) and female musicians like Fiona Apple or Sarah. Joey is a Radiohead lover and digs more of the indie scene like Death Cab and Ok Go! Then, Rodney made us listen to Hall in Oates on the way home from a gig a few weeks back. I was in hell. All of us are big Fleetwood Mac fans. I think that all of us tend to appreciate the story telling and heart-felt music in the country/folk genre as well. Hell, we were raised on it. Therefore, it does bleed out in our music.
DK: You have a great energy in your music; positive and smooth harmonies that complement each other. How long did it take you to find that place in your music?
FF: Having both done solo careers (Blake and I), we always sat around during holidays and sang harmonies to one another’s songs. That came natural. They always say that people who are related tend to pick up harmonies with one another easily. So, maybe that is it. We always know what each other are going to do vocally and move with that. Now, we wouldn’t see it any other way. Our best shows are when we are harmonizing and playing together.
DK: Do you have specific ideas in mind when songwriting? Or does it just come together as the music unfolds?
FF: I write to keep sane. I would go postal on everyone if I didn’t have that outlet. Blake writes for the creative process. He writes to see what comes out of an idea and if he can create something that makes sense to others and gets an idea or concept across. We are very different writers. Some songs come easy and others we toil over. This new release “Wasted Day” is the first record that we have co-written on. It is also our first album as a collective unit.
DK: Who writes the lyrics for the band?
FF: Both Blake and I write the music and I answered your question with the lyrics. Joey even wrote the chorus on Stay and had ideas for many songs on the record “Wasted Day”.
DK: Do you have an order when songwriting? Lyrics first and then music or vise versa?
FF: Depends on the song. How emotional it is etc. I don’t think that I have ever written music first then lyrics. I stick with lyrics first. Blake has done both. I have turned a lot of my poetry into songs etc. Blake has turned concepts and ideas into songs.
DK: You’ve got two albums and an EP out, and your EP was released last year, Are you still on track with releasing “Wasted Day” in October?
FF: Yup! The new album “Wasted Day” will be released on October 28th. The CD release party will be at Standard and Pours in Dallas. We are all so stressed but excited at the same time. So much work and
heart has gone into this record. We hope everyone sees our progress and how much effort went into the material.
DK: How long do you generally take in the studio with recording your albums?
FF: My first record “Red Lights” took about 1 week to record and then mix and master. Blake’s “Lines” took about 2 with everything. We were in the studio a month for this record. A lot more effort put into it. We also had a wonderful producer (Mark Addison), so his input and molding took time as well. This was the first record that we have made where we had no idea walking in, what songs were going to be on the album.
DK: How did you get involved with the “Stars and Snow” Christmas compilation CD?
FF: They contacted both of us and liked our work. It was a lot of fun.
We have done two other compilation albums that have yet to be released as well under CMH’s label.
DK: How would you describe your relationship with each other, band mates? Friends? Close as two peas in a pod?
FF: Blake and I can look at each other and know what each other are thinking. That is the cousin aspect of us. Joey and I are the same person. We have the same sense of humor etc. We are just now getting to know Rodney as a person and musician. He and Blake hit it off well. We all are a family. We have our tiffs and drag out fights, but always hug and walk away knowing that our passion for music brings us together.
DK: Your concert schedule is pretty full, all the way through to December. Do you have a good following in TX now also?
FF: Yeah, we tour A LOT. I quit my job back in March 2006. Blake quit his last week. (Gulp) So, we are now able to tour even more. We aren’t limited by our jobs and can be more creative now. Let’s just hope that bills get paid. Ha. Our crowds are growing with each show. We are primarily a Texas area band at this time, but can’t wait to branch out.
DK: What size venues have you played and do you have personal preferences as to the size of venue?
FF: We have played at University events were thousands were present. We have opened up at places like Gruene Hall were it is sold out. We have also played at small venues were no one shows up but the
bartenders. Each humbles us. We just want to play for people that care and are interested. If we play a room of 500 people and no one cares, what’s the point? If we play for a small venue with 25 people and they all listen and get into it, we are ecstatic. Luckily we have played big sold out venues where people get into it. Seeing people pressed against a stage singing your lyrics is amazing. So much energy.
DK: Have you played outside of TX yet?
FF: Yes, a few private shows out of Texas. Not much touring yet. We hope to tour this album though. (Outside of Texas)
DK: What are your lives like outside of music? What drives each of you?
FF: Blake is a big sports fan. He lives for Saturday College Football. He is very family oriented. He loves to play guitar and write music in his spare time.
Me, I love movies. All kinds. I’m a huge movie critic.
Joey plays a lot of Basketball. He also loves movies and listening to music. He is an internet surfer. I also catch him watching PBS shows about math problems.
Rodney is a life musician. He plays music daily in his home. He is also a gear head and gets off on music equipment etc.
DK: Do you have any music videos yet? And if so, for what song(s)?
FF: We have a music video for Cactus Café. It is on our website. It was produced and directed by Mickey Stroud.
DK: Fallon, how do you feel about the nickname, “The Voice”?
FF: Haha. I am the most non-diva person that you will ever meet. Its funny when people call me that. But it is also a huge compliment. I try to set myself apart from other female singers in the area.
Means a lot to me that people think that I have done a good job of it.
DK: Besides all your numerous concerts, what else can people look forward to expecting from you for the rest of the year?
FF: Lots of changes. This new record will open up many doors for us. It is a pop/rock record. A lot of people will be surprised by the material. However, the material is universal. We hope to progress as a band and to build a path that will keep moving us upward each year. That is all we can hope for. And everyone needs to check out the CD. Release date is October 28th! Ha (cheap plug)
DK: Well, I’d like to thank you for taking the time with me today and wish the band nothing but tremendous success for your future!
FF: Thank You!
Blake and Fallon Biography
Among the myriad of artists who have emerged from Austin in the last five years, few have generated more excitement among fans, critics, and industry insiders than Blake Powers & Fallon Franklin. Their live shows seamlessly blend elements of singer/songwriter, pop, rock, and blues genres. Formed in July of 2002, the band has already been recognized as a bright, creative force in Americana music with the release of their albums, Lines and Red Lights. They appear poised to assert themselves on the Pop and Rock scenes as well. The bands unique sound results from its four diverse members.
Guitarist and vocalist Blake Powers is an accomplished songwriter whose credits include being named a finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Category in 2002 and winning the distinguished BW Stevenson songwriting award (held annually at Poor Davids Pub in Dallas, TX) the same year. David Card, the owner of Poor Davids Pub and originator of the contest, has seen popular acts like The Dixie Chicks and Radney Foster start their careers on his legendary stage. Blake has as bright a future as any of the artists weve had here, he says. Venues like Gruene Hall (Gruene, TX), Poor Davids Pub (Dallas, TX), and Stubbs (Austin, TX) and popular touring acts like Vertical Horizon, Chris Knight, Guy Forsyth, Bruce Robison, and Cory Morrow agree. Powers style evokes strong comparisons to classic singer/songwriters like Van Morrison, Paul Simon, James Taylor, and David Gray.
Joining Powers on vocal duties is Fallon Franklin. Referred to by many in Austin as, simply, The Voice, Franklin is a fast rising solo star in her own right, and has the proud honor of being the first solo act ever allowed to perform at the University of Texas annual Spring Review. Franklin is gearing up to release her own CD in 2004, and critics, fans and artists are all eagerly awaiting her debut effort. Fallon has shared the stage with Asleep at the Wheel, Vertical Horizon, Pat Green, Cory Morrow, and The Great Divide, and her strong, soulful voice invokes shades of Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow.
The newest member of the band is bassist Rodney Gene. Rodney has been playing. writing and recording music since the early 80’s. His love for producing and music led him to Austin Texas where he currently resides. Rodneys primary and native instrument is the bass though as a producer he has developed a high proficiency with others instruments and sound design in general. When asked what made him pursue the band (Blake and Fallon), Rodney stated, “They woke me up at 1:00 am in the morning to ask if I was available for a gig…” It was a great sign of dedication for me… Once we met and played I recognized their brilliance right away… and the connection was nearly enough to drive us apart.” Rodney enjoys a huge mixture of music from Fleetwood Mac to Alice in Chains to “old-school” country. Music is merely Rodney’s life and it shows in his perfect bass playing.
Joey Campbell is an accomplished drummer who has played with groups in Dallas, Nashville and Austin. Campbell adds invaluable depth and immense rhythmic possibility to all the groups he performs with. He counts artists such as Gene Krupa, Dave Grohl, Jimmy Chamberlain, Larry Mullen Jr, Jeremy Taggart, and Blair Sinta among his influences, and that type of rock-deluged diversity can be heard in his unique style.
With the release of their albums, Lines and Red Lights, the band blends their acoustic rock roots with contemporary jazz production choices and folk-influenced lyricism to create an amazingly intelligent and infectious product that critics are already hailing with 4 star ratings (www.rootshighway.com) to signify it as “the coolest record you’ll buy this year” (www.gruenewithenvy.com). They are currently in talks with major labels and appear poised to receive national radio exposure in 2006.
The band’s upcoming release, “Wasted Day” is already getting rave reviews. Look for this ingenious mix of rock and pop in October 2006.