West Coast screamers Frankie and the Witch Fingers trade on a tradition built up from the very fabric of psychedelic soul. Shot through with the same melted juke jitters that sent Doug Sahm, The 13th Floor Elevators and The Pretty Things scratching through the record needles of every child indebted to the vibrational cathedral, the L.A. crew comes barreling into 2017 with their own brand of heatstroke mojo. The band’s latest, Brain Telephone, is an acid bath for the soul delivered in pulsating waves via fuzz guitar. It’s an electric jolt to the endocrine system, shaking the last dregs of reluctance out of your system and inducing bouts of dance euphoria.
The band, C. Dylan Sizemore (vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter), Glenn Brigman (drums, organ), Alex Bulli (bass), and Josh Menashe (lead guitar and backing vocals), has spent the past few years crawling around the heat-swamped corners of L.A.’s sweatbox circuit, honing the gospel across 2013’s Sidewalk, 2015’s eponymous album, and pumping straight motor oil through the veins of last year’s neon meltdown, Heavy Roller. They took the circus on the road, pounding every last inch of varnish from their weary husks from the heartland to the Bay. They’re thrumming on a new vibration that’s found it’s way to them on a light beam ripped into their deepest subconscious. They’re hooked up to the Brain Telephone that’s opened through the switchboard in their soul and they’re dropping you the digits to dial in.
They’ve tapped into something primal and it’s beating quick and frothy in the veins, combining the levitation-laced vibrations of Spacemen 3 with a scarred guitar growl straight out of the Motor City’s storied rock lineage. Brain Telephone is bent through the prism of shake n’ shimmy – a sweat-drenched dance party that’s equal parts Northern Soul all-nighter, Monterey Pop implosion, and modern warehouse wall-dripper all in one. That’s not to say they don’t know how to get tender, though. For all their eight-piston pummel, they can bring it down to a spine-tingling simmer when the time comes. At its heart, Brain Telephone is Frankie and The Witch Fingers at their most visceral – primed, polished, and funneling the fragrant heat of rock through your cranked speakers.
Dylan of Frankie And The Witch Fingers
1: The brain named itself.
2: There is no good or evil, everything is a perfect balance.
3: The purpose of human existence is to become the most complicated and multi dimensional beings that we possibly can be.
4. Never trust someone who says they don’t like the Beatles or someone that thinks smoking weed is bad.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Inspiration strikes in many shapes and forms. Sometimes I become inspired by a word someone says. There are certain rare words that you only hear ever so often, and when you do hear them it’s like “wow, what a great word, that should be in a song.” I have a very distinct memory of someone saying the words blasted bridge, and ever since then I’ve loved the word blasted.You hardly ever hear that word. I still haven’t used it for a song, but I definitely will. I keep a list of all the unthinkable words i like.
Other times it might be a really entrancing groove you hear in a song. I just listened to this song by Can called Chain Reaction, and there’s this constant, almost techno sounding rhythm that just pounds into your head, and I’m like “damn, I want to make something like that.”
Sometimes a hook or melody just kind of pops into my head while driving or doing something mundane, and I think “Is that already a song?”
As a band I think we’re inspired by one another. When I bring a song idea to the guys and then they play a groove or a riff that they naturally come up with to go along with the song, that ignites this flame of creativity where were all feeding off of one another’s influences and styles. It get’s really exciting. it’s like building a sandcastle with your best friends. You start out with just a few piles of sand, and then everyone starts elaborating. Someone digs a mote, and someone pokes out little windows, and someones makes a crazy drawl bridge out of sea shells or something. After everyone’s put their stamp on it, it’s this crazy layered piece of art.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I’ve been into making music basically my whole life. I used to make my grandparents listen to the same Dwight Yoakam tape over and over, when I was 4 years old. I would slap my knees for hours at a time. To get me to shut up as a kid, my family would put me in front of a TV with the country music channel on, and I would immediately go into a trance like state and start jumping around. I sang songs to the kids at my pre-school in the morning before class. I sang with my cousins in church. I got a drum set when I was 8 and started playing guitar in middle school. I’ve never had any formal training or anything, I’ve just always wanted to make songs.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
At the moment…
1. 13th Floor Elevators – Easter Everywhere
2. Can – Future Days
3. West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band – Vol: 3 A Child’s Guide to Good and Evil
4. Everly Brothers – A Date with The Everly Brothers
5. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
I think of Bowie and Visconti recording Heroes. I think of Iggy strung out on heroin. A colorful melting pot of many different cultures.
It’s a beautiful rainy place with amazing street art and good vibes. And The Wall ofcourse, all of the history that Berlin wears on it’s sleeve.
If someone said describe Berlin in two words I would say, delightfully freaky.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My favourite place is my house in Mt. Washington. Living in a big city like Los Angeles can be pretty overwhelming, but it feels a bit like a small town in my neighborhood. I’ve always lived in rural towns so I feel lucky to have found a spot in the bustling city of LA that feels comfortable and cozy.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I love to draw, so I’d probably be doing that. Although a world without music wouldn’t be somewhere i would want to exist.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
The last album I bought was Another Green World by Brian Eno for my girlfriend.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I would love to make something with the band Boogarins.
Those dudes are seriously from another planet. I love the way they interpret music.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
I got to see Iggy Pop play twice last year, and it was seriously life altering. He is one of the few rock gods that still exists, and you can seriously feel it when you see him perform. He hasn’t lost any of his energy or his power. IGGY IS GOD!
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Not at all. It’s pretty important when it comes to the business side of the band stuff, but it’s not at all necessary for the creative process. I could go my whole life without using an iphone or a laptop if It wasn’t completely essential to surviiving in LA. I’m a total grandpa when it comes to using technology.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
My siblings are all kind of old fashioned in a way. They have kids and families and real jobs. One of my brothers is in a metal band in Kentucky with my cousin, and my oldest brother taught me how to play a few chords back when he played guitar. I think they are supportive of my choice to be a musician for a living, but I’ve definitely always been the black sheep of the family.
Frankie and the Witch Fingers will perform at Quasimodo on May 22nd 2018.