A day in the life of Franky Perez.
I’ve been on the road for three weeks and have two more weeks.
What has the reception been like?
Well I’m on the conference room circuit I guess you could say. I’m playing for station managers and the like. The response has been amazing. I got on the air in Chicago today and got a lot of great feedback.
I didn’t have a bio before and I found a story on you from the Las Vegas Weekly that was printed in 2000. It was a pretty good story, but it was surprising to read at that time you just signed with Lava and right now in 2003 the album is just coming out. What have you been doing for the last two and a half years?
It has been two years of development. I’ve had a lot of support to work on this record. I produced the record. I’ve been in the studio for the past eight months. I’ve been writing and ended up writing forty-three songs in the studio and out of that we picked seventeen for the album. It’s been a very productive time.
Now are you solo or a group?
I’ve actually been with the same group of guys for the last four years. The name that we have settled on is Franky Perez and the Highway Saints. A couple of the guys I grew up with. I hired a guy I met in Jersey. I signed as a solo artist but I have myself a band.
You wrote a ton of songs up to the point before you were signed. How did you decide what to do with the past and merge it with the present?
Each song I write just pushes me to write a better song. The truth is I write everyday. The album is about my life and is a mirror of the last three years.
I was surprised you had seventeen songs on the record because that is usually something a hip-hop artist or punk band does. I know you had a reason behind that.
The album is titled Poor Man’s Son, but I call it the recession special, seventeen songs for seventeen bucks. (We both laugh)
The one song that I really liked was “Love, Soul, Rock ‘N’ Roll”.
I think it has a great crescendo. That song is very important to me because I got to write it with Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes. I got to spend a couple days with him and we became friends. He plays guitar on the track and co-wrote the song with me.
Speaking of people you admire, who influenced you?
I can’t say just one. My parents exiled to the U.S. from Cuba. So I grew up on a lot of Latin music. My old man bought three stacks of records from our neighbors who were moving out. So they got rid of their kid’s records and within that collection it became the soundtrack of my life. It ranged from country, Springsteen to Glen Cambell, Elvis to Creedence. My dad used to wake me up everyone morning to music in my house. James Brown became my alarm clock.
Do you take comparisons in a bad way?
I have been compared already and people need to compare you to something. Unless I get compared to something bad, but if I get compared to someone like Springsteen it’s not a bad thing. Springsteen was compared to Dylan so it’s not too bad.
I was asked my opinion and I said it reminded me of someone I grew listening to like John Mellencamp, but when he was cool and called John Cougar.
(Laughs) When he was the Cougar. Absolutely. I remember the Cougar. Someone actually said that to me the other day. He was a blue collar working class guy and I wanted to be associated with those kinds of guys.
Where do the songs come from?
I never sit down to write a song. I never write in vain. Where does it come from? I have no idea. I’d like to think I’ve been blessed. But you go through the content and it’s just my life. You go through a period of my life with me. I went through a few years in love and you really go through the changes. There are periods of the album that are dark and some that are completely in love. It comes from living.
How do you start writing?
Sometimes I will be writing one song and then I’ll start riffing around and a whole new song will come to me. Sometimes I work on a concept. It really depends. Sometimes I’ll just be walking down the street and hear a melody.
It seems that critics today put too much emphasis on the complex because they think they can hear something the regular guy can’t, but there is something I can’t explain about your tracks that just sound so sweet yet so simple.
Absolutely. At the end of the day you can overproduce a record until you are blue in the face. You can do whatever, but if you don’t have a song you have nothing. The way I produce records is that nothing gets in the way of the song or story.
I remember someone said that you could tell a good song if you can play it with acoustic guitar and it still sounds good.
Exactly. You know I’ve been playing this whole tour with only an acoustic guitar and it’s like some people are moved by it. I completely agree with you that if a song can move you bare bones than you know it is great.
I was interested in the story about you taking the road trips around the country. What were you looking for?
That trip was amazing. The one trip across the country I went to learn from the road in a Woody Guthrie fashion. It really nurtured my writing so much. Who knows, maybe I’ll get the chance to do that again in a few years.
Do you think you learn the most when you have nothing to lose?
I hate to say it but you write the best songs when you are miserable. Hopefully if this record takes off and things get good it’ll be tough to find the negative in it, but I told my manager to find a crisis so that I can write a few more good songs.
It makes you think about bands becoming successful and then can’t follow up a great record. I always wonder if it’s the money or being lazy.
I know. I can tell you I’m not going to get lazy. I’ve fought too hard and too long to get here only to get lazy. But I do think people get the money coming in and forget what it’s all about. I’m not too worried about it because life takes some serious turns and I take everything and write from that.
+ charlie craine