Frank Palangi Talks Music, Guitars, and Touring
By Tiffini Taylor and Jen Minor
New York based rock artist Frank Palangi has been on the scene for nearly ten years demonstrating not only his musical talent, but also the importance of staying true to yourself and chasing your dreams. He spoke with us about music, guitars, touring and more. Check out what he had to say!
DFTR: Where did it all begin for you?
FP: It begins at the age of thirteen, with the movie The Crow starring Brandon Lee. Well I like the movie because I have a film background. I’ve always liked movie scores. But it was the dead rock star coming back to life and I saw that solo or whatever he did on the rooftop and I go, “what is that? I want to play whatever that is!” My parents are like, ‘That’s a guitar.” They got me a guitar and a little amp. I took classical lessons for like six months and I was like “wait a minute- this isn’t what I heard in the movie.” I quit those and just started learning on my own and got into eighties metal and nineties rock.
DFTR: Who influenced you early on?
FP: From the nineties I would say Creed, Three Doors Down, a little bit of like Foo Fighters and a little bit of the grunge stuff. From the eighties, Metallica, Megadeth, Ozzy, Ratt, Def Leppard, and Dokken.
DFTR: Have you seen Def Leppard on this tour?
FP: Yeah, I played the pre-show for them on the first or second gig of their tour in Albany. It was good— I’ve seen them in Saratoga like twice and that was about ten years ago, and I think they’re better now than they were then. It’s kind of switched because I thought Journey wasn’t as on point as they were, I don’t know, it’s weird.
DFTR: Who inspires you today?
FP: I don’t know if he’s recent much anymore, Daughtry from American Idol. Then a lot of bands from the seventies I’m discovering now that I had never really listened to. Just some of the way it sounds and the guitar playing, how it was recorded, you know all that kind of stuff. I’ve been coming at it from a more of a sound engineer standpoint— you know how records are made. I may not care for the band as much, but I listen to the record and I go, “this record is recorded really good or does some weird stuff.” I mean, I like Decyfer Down, a newer Christian rock band. I still listen to a lot of the older stuff that I use to.
DFTR: What was the first guitar that you ever played? What is your favorite guitar to play?
FP: It was a Jackson electric guitar. I don’t really remember what model it was or anything, I know I had a Crate amp which Creed used, because I really liked Creed so I was like, “what kind does he use? He uses Crate —OK so I’ll get one.”
The Epiphone Explorer has been my all-time favorite guitar because of the way it’s shaped. For some reason, I can play faster on it and it’s a little easier for me. That’s for electric. For acoustic, I’m Ovation bound. I pretty much have been using them for nine years now.
DFTR: What is your favorite song to play on an electric guitar?
FP: I don’t know, I would say “Set Me Free.” I like the riff and the energy of that song, but it’s tough between that and “Break These Chains.” I can’t really choose. They’re kind of tied.
DFTR: In this present time, where practically anyone can hook up a mic to their computer and put a song out there, what technology do you like in the music industry today compared to years past?
FP: I like the idea that you can make a demo almost anywhere if you have an idea. You can just record it quickly, but I think with the kids with all these iPhones— they make these videos or they record something and release it on iTunes— that’s not making a record or anything like that. I mean, it’s making a song to a certain point, but the quality and stuff is not there—you know full production.
DFTR: What would you change about the music industry today? Is there anything you would change?
FP: Yeah, I would make it more accessible like how it use to be. Where record labels still accepted demos even if it’s a certain way—where you could mail them or maybe not walk up in person, because everybody would be doing that. Something even like how you get your songs out there. It’s all paid to be on it. Now it’s not, “we stumbled across you, you’re really good, why don’t we feature you as the next thing.” I hear it’s going to cost a couple of hundred dollars, then I’m like, “yeah… but if you really think the talent is there or want to support it that bad, then put it out there.” So, it’s very, very much pay to get exposure. I mean, it’s always been that way, but not as bad and they don’t have to do that 100% of the time.
DFTR: Do you think a guitarist as yourself can have longevity?
FP: I guess it depends on where rock music goes. I mean, there’s always a job somewhere with someone who wants live music, so I don’t think that will be problem. As far as my own stuff, I don’t know if the amount of people that love that type of rock is going to go up or is going to go down. I think it’s going to come back because it’s kind of —not that it’s been out — it’s been lower than the past twenty years and if you look at cycles — especially like I see the eighties guys made a little bit of a comeback, now you’re going to hear a lot of it. Nineties and that might spark some new stuff. A lot of it is the TV channels, news outlets, and the record labels faults of always playing—I’m sorry to say, but they always play country, rap, pop, and R&B and the festivals cut out all the rock awards. There’s other awards given out, but they don’t show it on TV. It is a lot of their fault because you can see they’re telling people what is in, they’re telling people what the new artist is and all that kind of stuff.
DFTR: Do you think social media plays a large role in getting certain kinds of music out there? What do you think social media turning the tables around that way?
FP: I think it has made it into more of a popularity contest. I’ve heard all the time, “you know, if you had little bit more views… if you had a little bit more likes…” It’s the same thing as if you had more album sales— you could do this back years ago. It’s made it so that if you don’t have that, the companies aren’t interested. Even you could sound as polished as Nickelback or Metallica —these guys that are really slamming it out there and they don’t care, because they’re like, “well your video has this many hits.” They’re only interested in the artist that gets every video over a million views. I only say that because I’ve noticed that with a few people I know— and I’ve gotten a little bit of it myself— like certain artists or certain videos that come out. I’ll either get the, “if you only had more views or whatever” and I’m like “uh-huh.” Then it’s weird because on the opposite, you have them noticing you because you are opening up first for some artist or something like that, and then they go to the videos a lot of times and they say the same thing, and what I tell them— which is true I think— I’m like, “if you give any artist the opportunity to go on tour, you don’t even have to sign the artist just to go on tour with somebody like Nickelback or Metallica — those views are going to be there and if you think the music is good and artist is good live, and you see the opportunity— even if that’s the only thing that lacks, then that’s the way to do it. It’s the old school way to do it. Artist aren’t even bringing unknown openers anymore, its all “you’ve got to pay thousands of dollars first” to be on the tour.
DFTR: As far as touring, where has been your favorite place to play?
FP: I would say Vermont. Vermont’s really nice, the people are more friendly there, and they treat me pretty good. It’s a little more relaxing because it’s more country. New York is a little more upbeat —then sometimes a little dry. .
DFTR: Is there a current band or artist that you want to tour with, play with, or collaborate with?
FP: Yeah, I mean my ultimate goal is Metallica to open for them or work with them in the studio, any of the members, because they’re my favorite band. Dave Grohl is another one that I would like him to produce at least one of my songs or something one time. I think we would really get along, kind of gel, because he’s got that old school type thing— he’s all rock n roll.
To tour with, I’ve worked with them, but haven’t got to tour with them was Daughtry. Three Doors Down I would like to, because I opened up for them once, but I would like to do an actual tour with them or I like Shinedown a lot too.
DFTR: So what’s next for you?
FP: I have an EP that I’m working on and hope to release it next year. I’ve recently gotten into covering film music scores— I released The Terminator theme, the Halloween theme, and I might do one or two more of those. Maybe another cover song release. My main focus is getting the EP squared away here.
DFTR: Anything you want to add?
FP: The current EP I have out now changed a lot for me as far as career wise with the direction I went. I think from meeting Brian of Daughtry, I learned so much between the recording techniques and kind of seeing a little bit of backstory of their band and how it kind of works. It kind of kick started me into a little redirection. I’m very, very conscious of things I never use to be and with this new EP Break These Chains, I’ve mixed it and recorded everything myself and the first time, I’ve entered that arena of sound engineer— the big mixer. I’ve always been behind the scenes. A lot of people don’t even know, but the first two EPs, there’s parts in it that I recorded in my bedroom. It’s cool because it is mixed with the studio stuff. Now I have a little home studio and some more gadgets so I’m approaching songs from that standpoint of, “OK, I wrote a song. The lyrics are there.” But when you record the way it sounds, to get a good sound recording, you might have to change something so its like “Oh I love this riff, I don’t want to change this riff” but when I record, it sounds muddy you know? So you have to kind of simplify it. “That’s not what I wanted but now it sounds good.”