How about some Country to start off your weekend? VENTS and Frank Viele are teaming up for the exclusive premiere of his new single “Till The Bourbon’s All Gone (Back In My Arms).” The song blends some familiar melodies Country fans will recognize instantly along with some vocals that remind us to the Chief of Rock N’ Roll, Bruce Springsteen.
“What’s his name?” Glad you ask.
Up until now, Frank Viele has been something of a regional secret throughout New England. His quadruple-threat reputation as a singer, guitarist, songwriter and performer is unrivaled there, as recognized by the New England Music Awards for Album of the Year, Male Performer of the Year, and Live Act of The Year he has stashed somewhere in his Connecticut home.
Of course, musically tuned-in folks throughout the world have been hearing reports of Viele’s prowess for several years. No Depression might have piqued their curiosity with its praise for his “vivid storytelling.” Or maybe they read about his singing in The Alternate Root, which observed that his “street growl” could rivet passersby. Howl Magazine even called his shows “transcendent” and predicted that his music “will rattle your bones and penetrate to the core.”
Audiences around the country have begun taking notice as Viele plays in further-flung venues. Since his first album, Fall Your Way, dropped in 2015, he’s been called to open for Will Hoge, Blues Traveler, Lee DeWyze, Zach Myers of Shinedown, The Marshall Tucker Band, and in his somewhat wonderstruck words, “artists who have been on my personal playlists for years.”
Slated for a mid-March release in 2018, What’s His Name? is a personal tour de force of passion, candor and craft. Viele’s singing is unforgettable — rough-edged yet nuanced, straddling that line where poetic interpretation and raw emotion meet. The impressions he made during his early gigs broaden on What’s His Name? Rugged Americana, deep blues and gut-wrenching soul create a potent new brew on “Cigarettes, Throwing Stones, & Lies.” Unlikely elements — a gentle groove kissed by congas, a milky bass tone and wind chimes — caress Viele’s anguished romanticism on “If You Could Only Read My Mind.” Those same sentiments take on an even sharper edge when lashed with earthy lie guitar and stirred by churchy harmonies on “Till The Bourbon’s All Gone.” The sting of betrayal turns up the heat even more over a thumping funk groove on the title cut. And one track, “Pomegranate,” stands out from anything Viele has done before, thanks to the six strings that augment the reflective lyric, courtesy of arranger/cellist Dave Eggar (Ray Lamontagne/Coldplay/Pearl Jam).
“I’ve never taken the easy road musically,” Viele insists. “When you hear Otis Redding’s Blue or Bob Seger’s Night Moves, you feel it. Those songs grab you. That’s what music is supposed to do. That’s what I want to do.”
And he does. The proof is in every moment of What’s His Name? and in its aftermath, when you realize what you’ve been missing in your music for a long time — until now.
In addition, we had a chance to sit with Frank for an exclusive interview about the single and what’s coming next.
Hi Frank, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks! I’ve been great. It’s like the calm before the storm right now. I’m restringing my guitars, packing my bags, and getting ready to head to the west coast for a tour supporting Lee DeWyze and it’s perfect timing cause the first single off my upcoming album, ‘Til The Bourbon’s All Gone, is coming out!
Can you talk to us more about your new single “’Til The Bourbon’s Gone”?
Sure thing…Musically, it’s a very good representation of the album on the whole. My dear friend William Light ripped on the slide guitar and Marron Chaplin, who also sings a duet with me on this album, sings the backup parts on the chorus. I was listening to a lot of Eagles records when I started recording this tune, and I wanted that driving classic rock with a slight country and blues edge that only comes from the Eagles records with Joe Walsh on guitar. That’s why I asked William to play guitar and Marron, who I met earlier that year at the Dewey Beach Music Festival in Delaware at my band’s after party, to sing on it. The night I met Marron, a bunch of us were jamming till like 6am and she started singing and playing a bunch of Guns and Roses tunes. I was blown away and said to myself, damn I got to have this girl on my next album. Her rough but sweet vocals combined with William’s guitar work gave the tune the edge I felt the lyric required.
Did any event inspire you to write this song?
So here’s the story. The release of my album, Fall Your Way, in 2015, came at a crossroads in my life and really changed everything for me. I went from playing in clubs and pubs in the region to touring across the country, in many cases sharing the stage with artists I’ve looked up to and admired for years. About 3 months prior to the release of that record I was what the internet calls “ghosted” by a longtime girlfriend. No way to reach her, no real understanding, and left only with the knowledge that she didn’t want nor believe in the whole “rock n roll thing” anymore. That’s where this tune came from. My album ended up being very successful and got me on stages and radio stations across the country. Including a station she listened to from time to time. When I found out that station spun me, I wrote this tune with the concept that if I couldn’t find her, maybe my music could and maybe she would see that all the late nights, lonely weekends, and struggles were paying off. And then maybe, she’d come back. That’s where the chorus comes from when I sing “If You’re Not Aware, Just Sit Right There, And Let That Record Play Along. I’ll Sing You A Song, ‘Til The Bourbon’s All Gone, And You’ll Wake Up Back In My Arms”.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Potentially. I both love and hate making music videos and there’s always concepts in my head for them, but I can never seem to put the pieces together the way I want within like a 4 minute time window. There’s definitely going to be a cool lyric video for this tune that a talented digital artist made for me, and undoubtedly there will be a couple videos off the new album as we start to share the rest of it with everybody next year.
The single comes off your new album What´s His Name? – what’s the story behind the title?
The 4th track on the upcoming album is called “What’s His Name?” and it’s a powerful tune where I hope I achieved my goal of combining an Otis Redding style verse groove, with a Tom Petty power pre-chorus, and a Joe Cocker kind of backbone. It’s a song that tells a simple story of the big question every guy asks when the girl he’s with seems to be acting funny and then falls off the face of the earth…What’s His Name?
I felt like the tune encompassed a lot of where this record sits musically, and then the side bar on the title was that my producer and close friends who have heard this record from its infancy really believe that this album is going to help a lot of new listeners discover my music. It’s a powerful record that I’m beyond proud of and I am beyond excited to get these recordings out there!
How was the recording and writing process?
The process was incredible. It was an emotional roller coaster, but I feel like that may be what helped make it so special.
My last album was recorded with Vic Steffens of Horizon Music Group and I took home the New England Music Award for Album of The Year for it. That same night, he took home the award for Producer of The Year for his fantastic work on my record. So we both were definitely eager to make another album together.
Vic and I spend a ton of time together even when I’m not recording. He’s like my “rock n roll Yoda” in a way and he sheds his wisdom to keep me sane during the ups and downs of the amazing musical and life journey that Fall Your Way brought me on over the last few years.
He was excited to start the new record because he had heard bits and pieces of the songs I was writing. Unfortunately, my head was all over the place with touring, and the mental battles you end up fighting as an indie artist, and I just couldn’t finish the 12 tunes I had that were all 90% done.
That’s where my dear friend Dee Miller came in. He lives in the Philly area but was playing bass with me on some shows out in Vermont. He’s big into vinyl records, and in the van I told him about the vinyl collection I had as a kid that accidentally got put in the basement five years ago when I moved into my current place and was essentially destroyed by humidity in 48 hours. I never even re-setup my turntable after that.
Before he went home after the run, he setup my turntable, helped me go through my old collection and salvage anything possible, and later that week he mailed me an awesome clock he made me out of the Sweet Baby James record that was a childhood gift from my godmother and was presumably destroyed.
I then dedicated time every day to just listen to all my records and the albums that inspired me when I was just starting out. This was the fuel I needed to finish the nuances of my new record and I thank my friend Dee, who is also playing bass on this first single, all the time for helping me re-discover the music that inspired much of my art.
What role does Connecticut play in yours music?
There’s a bunch of talented artists in Connecticut. I’ve had the honor of sharing the stage with many of them and on both Fall Your Way and this upcoming album, I’ve been blessed to have many of them play on my tunes. For the new album, I was lucky to have some Connecticut folks like Fuzz from Deep Banana Blackout, Tommy Weeks and the fellas from the Funky Dawgz Brass Band, Bill Holloman from Chic, William Light, Andrew Cusanelli, Andy Abel, Heather Joseph, Max Cappello, and the one and only Christine Ohlman lend their talents to my songs. So yeah, I guess there’s a little “Connecticut” in my music.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
All of my inspiration lyrically comes from my day to day life. I use talk to type on my phone and will write lyric and song ideas during my long drives on the road. When I’m not behind the wheel, I’ll write on whatever I find. If you dig through my van, you’ll find Dunkin Donuts receipts with lyrics on them.
That said, this recording process forced me to be a much more disciplined songwriter and there were days that the floor of my living room looked like I was doing my taxes as I had tons of old receipts with little lyric ideas on them and I was stringing everything together to make fully vetted songs out of it.
Any plans to hit the road?
2017 was a non-album release year and by the time December is done with, I will have done almost 100 shows in over 20 states. So with a new record in the back of my truck, I expect to basically live on the road in 2018. Which I’m very excited about! I’m also doing a nice run with my good friend, and American Idol Season Nine winner, Lee DeWyze on the west coast starting December 6th.
What else is happening next in Frank Viele’s world?
Well…today, I’m meeting with vinyl pressing plants because for the first time, my music is going to be available on vinyl which I’m so excited about. In addition, I’m also working on some bigger things for 2018. But all that said, the craziest part about this musical journey is that I never know what’s around the next corner. So where will I be in 3 months? Your guess is as good as mine…