POP Montreal : Frankie and the Witch Fingers aren’t afraid of AI

Entrevue réalisée par Stephan Boissonneault
Genres et styles : Garage Punk / Krautrock / Psych-Rock

renseignements supplémentaires

If you’re a lover of insane freakout psych rock, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of Frankie and the Witch Fingers—a genre-bending chimera that has just dropped their seventh full-length, Data Doom. On this record, the gruesome foursome sounds doomy as sin with heavy fuzzed-out riffs, banshee-like delayed croons and growls, nihilistic lyrics, and Zambian rock-inspired instrumental rhythms.

Right from the first few minutes of the opener “Empire,” you get the feeling Frankie and the Witch Fingers knew exactly what they were doing. For a band who hates talking about musical influences, they certainly pull a lot from other bands, the obvious connection being Osees (who have been doing the freak fuzz thing longer) but on Data Doom, there are also hints of groups like Talking Heads, W.I.T.C.H., and even The Jam. Yes even though they will probably always be compared to Osees, you’d be a fool to only loop in Frankie and the Witch Fingers with that band. They are their own whacky entity.

Data Doom has the band stronger than ever, with a newer rhythm section in the bass player, Nikki “Pickle” Smith (Death Valley Girls) drummer, Nick Aguilar (Mike Watt, a punk legend), and core founding members, Dylan Sizemore (vocals and guitar) and Josh Menashe (lead guitar, synths. We had a chance to chat with the whole band as they drove to Montreal for POP about Data Doom‘s hidden vinyl cipher and why they think AI in music is hilarious and not to be feared.

PAN M 360: You guys are halfway through the tour already. Is the energy down by now or is it always fully amped?

Josh Menashe: Last night was in Washington DC and it was a really fun show. We played with Wine Lips and it was a great crowd with great energy.

Dylan Sizemore: I’d say halfway through the tour we’re feeling pretty good. We had a day off which was great for everyone and the day off usually gets me going back to work. It’s kind of like an ebb and flow. You have to try and eat healthy and get some good sleep.

PAN M 360: So it’s safe to say you guys aren’t partying after every show? It’s like play the show, say hi to fans, go to sleep, and then do it all over again?

Nick Aguilar: Yeah like don’t get me wrong. I think we all like to party a little bit. But at the end of the day, this is our way of life and we’ve got to treat it like a job. A lot of times we’re generally really tired after our shows and most of the time, we just kind of want to go to bed and get some more rest for the next day. Strategic partying is the name of the game.

Nikki “Pickle” Smith: Yes! Strategic partying.

PAN M 360: Makes sense for sure. Let’s talk about Data Doom. Is the theme that tech is slowly or quickly killing us?

Dylan Sizemore: I think the theme is that tech is doing stuff and whether it be bad or good, not be numb to the fact that it is changing us at a rapid pace.

Frankie and the Witch Fingers / James Duran

PAN M 360: So going off of that, what do you think about AI now being used in music? Like artists using AI to echo a specific sound or artist?

Nick Aguilar: Personally, I think it’s hilarious (the whole van laughs). I don’t really think anyone in their right mind is ever going to take artificial intelligent music seriously, in any regard. I think it has its place in certain certain markets, but in music, I don’t know. I think it’s kind of a joke.

Nikki “Pickle” Smith: I agree. I think you’re never gonna be able to use technology to replicate the human soul. Art and music is really tapped into the human soul. So when it’s something that’s not real, it’s just a tool for artists. And I think it’ll get used more and more, but I think it’s not a threat to taking our jobs away from creative people. Like you’ll never be able to replicate that.

Josh Menashe: I actually read that they’re working on soul recreation so we might be screwed (everyone laughs).

PAN M 360: Yeah AI created souls.

Josh Menashe: Yeah it’s a thing.

PAN M 360: That kind of goes into one of my questions about the lyric “I believe in the human race / Does anyone else ever feel this way.” Dylan, where was your head when you wrote that lyric in “Electricide?”

Dylan Sizemore: It kind of came from that realization that yeah, everything’s fucked but we can still do something about it. It’s like every day, we’re just thrown more nihilistic things to think about.

PAN M 360: And so singing that lyric every night, do you feel maybe less nihilistic about it and I guess ‘believe in the human race?’

Dylan Sizemore: I do believe in the human race, but it’s more of an awareness, but it also doesn’t matter. It’s kind of funny, like do something about it or don’t y’know?

Nikki “Pickle” Smith: I will say that seeing the fans singing along with the songs does make me feel more optimistic.

PAN M 360: Your shows are always known to be full of energy and just nuts. So do you guys really dial in that energy at your shows or is it different every time?

Josh Menashe: I feel like it really, it’s really a reflection of the audience. It’s like, we put out this energy, and it goes right back to them, we’re kind of just playing with this ball of energy. And the crazier the crowd gets, the more like fast-paced rocker songs you want to make. And it kind of just loops and feeds itself.

Nick Aguilar: I think it’s safe to say that individually, we never phone it in. Unless like one of us having like a really tired or bad day, you know, we’re always, we’re always giving it like 100%, for the most part. But as the audience is going just as hard as we are, it’s probably safe to say that we’re gonna go harder and encourage like, more energy and lively activity in the audience. And DC was a good example of that, you know, there were probably about like, a little over 200 people, and like the whole front row was a bunch of younger people just like singing along, jumping around. And like that made us play, I feel, a lot harder and a lot better.

PAN M 360: So it’s definitely like a give and take from the audience and you guys playing. Do you guys prefer playing in smaller rooms or big concert venues?

Josh Menashe: I feel like it’s about the physical distance between the people. Like if you play a big room, but there are people right in the front row, like, feet away from you or like one metre if this is Montreal. Like a big festival, there’s usually a huge barrier. And you’re not like within 20 feet of someone and that can feel kind of weird. You kind of have to go that extra level to connect to those people, which is a fun challenge. But I personally prefer it when you have people right up in your face, right?

PAN M 360: A friend of mine has Data Doom on vinyl and they told me there is a hidden message with a cipher that comes with the record?

Nikki “Pickle” Smith: Yes we had two amazing artists collaborate on the cover art and all of the album art design. There’s definitely a secret hidden in there that we want people to try to figure out. And that was masterminded by the artists that worked on it, mainly Jordan Warren out in the UK.

PAN M 360: So is it a phrase or a paragraph that the fans basically have to translate?

Nikki “Pickle” Smith: Yeah that’s pretty much it. There’s a phrase on the front. It’s kind of woven throughout the album art and the videos. It’s like the entire, “Frankie Verse” right now. It’s supposed to be a fun little puzzle for the fans to figure out.

PAN M 360: You guys get thrown under the psych music umbrella all the time, but that umbrella seems to expand more and more every year. So I’m curious, what is psychedelic music to you?

Nick Aguilar: I would just say that something psychedelic is just letting your freak flag fly. Like anything that just is a little bit out of the ordinary that you’re not going to hear on pop or rock music on top 40 radio. Just anything that helps bend the boundaries of what’s acceptable. It doesn’t need to be trippy out and tripped out or anything, but just whatever is a little bit different.

Josh Menashe: Yeah anything that subverts expectations is pretty psychedelic to me.

Nikki “Pickle” Smith: For me, I think it has to do with layers and having strange sounds poking through. Things that call out to the psychedelic mind, something that’s hidden…

Dylan Sizemore: I agree with everything. That’s pretty much what psychedelia and psych music means to me—like boundary-pushing and experimentation. Anything with like that sort of awareness, awareness of like whatever consciousness that is bigger than just trying to sell Coca-Cola or whatever.

Cover Image: Travis Trautt

Frankie and the Witch Fingers + Iguana Death Cult + Hot Garbage
La Sala Rossa— Sep 27, 2023 Doors:7:30 pm | Show: 8:00 pm
TICKETS HERE

Tout le contenu 360

Vancouver Turning Point Ensemble celebrates in Montreal with SMCQ

Vancouver Turning Point Ensemble celebrates in Montreal with SMCQ

FIMAV 2024 | Sélébéyone, or cultural intersections according to Steve Lehman

FIMAV 2024 | Sélébéyone, or cultural intersections according to Steve Lehman

Kaia Kater Talks About Her New Album Strange Medicine

Kaia Kater Talks About Her New Album Strange Medicine

FIMAV | Natural Information Society informs you of its great sounds !

FIMAV | Natural Information Society informs you of its great sounds !

CMIM – Piano 2024: The finalists’ penultimate stretch (Part 2)

CMIM – Piano 2024: The finalists’ penultimate stretch (Part 2)

CMIM – Piano 2024: The penultimate round of finalists (Part 1)

CMIM – Piano 2024: The penultimate round of finalists (Part 1)

Musical Chairs, a chamber music festival at the Schulich School of Music

Musical Chairs, a chamber music festival at the Schulich School of Music

Swing the Mass at Cinquième salle : Will Todd’s Mass in Blue for a rare occasion in Quebec

Swing the Mass at Cinquième salle : Will Todd’s Mass in Blue for a rare occasion in Quebec

Meet Uuriintuya Khalivan: the woman who brings Mongolia to Canada

Meet Uuriintuya Khalivan: the woman who brings Mongolia to Canada

Women’s Silk Roads at the Centre des Musiciens du Monde Festival 2024

Women’s Silk Roads at the Centre des Musiciens du Monde Festival 2024

Tribute to John Williams: the darling of musicians and audiences alike

Tribute to John Williams: the darling of musicians and audiences alike

Corridor: From Analog Legacy to Electronic Exploration

Corridor: From Analog Legacy to Electronic Exploration

FIMAV 2024 | Scott Thomson, new artistic director, explains and reveals his favorites

FIMAV 2024 | Scott Thomson, new artistic director, explains and reveals his favorites

Nastasia Y, her ukrainian culture infused with Canada

Nastasia Y, her ukrainian culture infused with Canada

CMIM: Shira Gilbert and Zarin Mehta talk about Piano 2024 edition

CMIM: Shira Gilbert and Zarin Mehta talk about Piano 2024 edition

Before the CMIM kicks off, Chantal Poulin talks to us about the Piano 2024 edition.

Before the CMIM kicks off, Chantal Poulin talks to us about the Piano 2024 edition.

Wake Island at the Phi Center: multidimensional!

Wake Island at the Phi Center: multidimensional!

Alex Henry Foster Talks About Overcoming Death and his new album, Kimiyo

Alex Henry Foster Talks About Overcoming Death and his new album, Kimiyo

Information: Montreal Oct. 1970 by Tim Brady: a first opera about the October ’70 Crisis

Information: Montreal Oct. 1970 by Tim Brady: a first opera about the October ’70 Crisis

P’tit Belliveau Talks About His New Album, Frogs, and Income Tax

P’tit Belliveau Talks About His New Album, Frogs, and Income Tax

At Annie-Claude Deschênes’ table: between utensils & sound experimentation

At Annie-Claude Deschênes’ table: between utensils & sound experimentation

OSL | Naomi Woo | Musique du Nouveau Monde

OSL | Naomi Woo | Musique du Nouveau Monde

Anderson & Roe, piano duo great innovators

Anderson & Roe, piano duo great innovators

Hawa B or not Hawa B ? “sadder but better” EP answers the question !

Hawa B or not Hawa B ? “sadder but better” EP answers the question !

Inscrivez-vous à l'infolettre