Q&A(gain) with Frankie Cosmos

WRBB caught up with Greta Kline and co. of Frankie Cosmos to talk about the success of their latest release, touring goals, and t-shirt ideas. Next Thing is out now via Bayonet.

First of all, you guys did an interview with WRBB a couple months ago…I came to the show and talked to you about it—so thanks for that!

Greta Kline: Yeah I thought I knew you from somewhere! I honestly– I have a really hard time with faces, so I often feel like I’m making it up when I feel that, so I don’t say anything. I wasn’t sure…but I do remember you!

So since then, a lot has happened with Frankie Cosmos as a whole, and as a band. You guys are making a lot of year end lists—a lot of good placement on those, so how are you taking those into account? Are you reading them?

Kline: I don’t even know which ones we were on…

Well Pitchfork had you guys, and a lot of different publications were singing your praises! How do you feel about [Next Thing] as a whole and the effort you’ve been putting in?

David Maine: Proud, pretty great. It’s been cool to see it on the lists with some of my favorite artists. I think we were on a bunch of lists with Kendrick Lamar, who’s my dream girl, and that was cool. It’s like, “Wow, same ballpark. Exact same ballpark”.

Kline: After the album is done being made, I don’t listen to it. Otherwise, I’d just scrutinize what I could have done differently, so I try not to read too much stuff about it. But my mom has a “google alert” so she tells me if anything good comes up. So yeah, I’ve heard that we were on some year end lists.

Luke Pyenson: We’ve been working on new stuff since right after the album came out, so I think we’ve also been looking to the future for a long time. Not to say that we’re not happy that the album did really well.

Kline: I mean, we’ve been working on stuff since before Next Thing came out…when we did the Next Thing Tour we were playing “Being Alive”.

Yeah, I know Bayonet has you on a tight schedule. How do you feel about being restricted to release stuff not on Bandcamp? Do you have stuff on your computer waiting to release? How’s that itch?

Kline: Um, it’s alright, I mean, there’s nothing really stressing me out about release stuff – I know that whatever our vision is we can make it happen. But I feel like definitely not releasing stuff constantly and not releasing demos has been a personal decision to just be like, “Ok, I wanna make stuff sound good in the studio and make a record and put that out”. It feels good to wait, because then by the time it comes out you have to really be choosing if you still care about those songs and that you still want to put them out.

Pyenson: That’s true, that is. We’re gonna record in a few weeks, and those songs might not come out for, it might be six months, it might be eight months, it might be a year… (I hope it’s not a year) and we have to be ok with that. It’s a little frustrating, but we want people to still be excited about us and if waiting a little longer is making it so that people are actually foaming at the mouth–beating down the doors to get the FC album–then we want to wait until it gets dire.

Kline: Yeah, I also feel like putting out a bunch of music and waiting for myself– it’s an interesting test. It just feels weird, like I know the process has changed the way that I release music, like when I was first putting out music, so it feels really different. It’s a weird test for myself because it is hard, but I also think that all the stuff that’s involved, if it allows it to reach more people, like making music videos and putting out a single and all that kind of stuff– the fact that it could reach more people, and if it could reach some kid who wouldn’t have heard it otherwise then that, to me…not scale in who it’s reaching but if one kid is getting to hear it who wouldn’t hear it before, and it affects him, that makes it worth it I feel like. To do all the stuff, that feels like a test of my will.

Speaking of new material, you guys released the Covers tape recently! If you could have somebody cover one of your songs, which artist would you like? No limits.

Pyenson: I don’t…know if that’s a common question for us.

Kline: We’ve only had it once before. We had it at Wesleyan and I was so excited. I think Kero Kero Bonito. That would be awesome, I was gonna say that’s doable. I think when they asked us at Wesleyan I said Joanna Newsom because that’s a musician that I find that her instrumentation is beyond all other musicians.

Pyenson: Maybe, like, Guerilla Toss?

Kline: Maybe, I don’t know, Dirty Projectors would be cool. They would make it so much better!

Pyenson: Last time I saw Dirty Projectors like it made me want to quit music, so if they covered the band that I’m in, that would make me jump a bit.

Kline: I remember being on tour and telling a person to turn off Dirty Projectors because it was making me want to leave the tour and go home and call it quits…because they’re so good! I was like, “this is one thing I can’t hear before I go on stage. Please turn this off!”

So Fit Me In has passed its year anniversary, which is super cool. Do you think you’d ever get back to that style in between albums? How do you feel about that kind of approach?

Kline: Yeah, I’m down to mess around with that kind of thing. We’ve talked about maybe doing something like that again. We play those songs live sometimes, which is fun. Yeah, I don’t know, depends if I felt I had a song that I wanted to do that with. We were recently arranging and Luke was like, “yeah, I don’t think live drums would be better for the song”.

Pyenson: One of the new songs, I started playing drum kit and felt like it made the song worse. I have felt that before, but then I thought drum machine would sound better…and that’s a thought I never really had before. As a drummer, we don’t generally like drum machines, but sometimes drum kit isn’t the right fit…so there might be a couple songs, or one song, on the next album that has more of an electronic vent.

You guys are headed to Japan! How are you preparing for that, and how do you feel about Frankie Cosmos’ newfound reach and touring notoriety?

Kline: It’s amazing! It’s so lucky to get to go to those places. It’s unbelievable. We’re just freaking out about it. I basically ran around telling people that we were going to Japan before it was confirmed, just hoping that wouldn’t jinx it. I just thought if I said it hard enough that it would happen–and it worked! I made it happen by believing, I just believed so hard.

Pyenson: And we expressed interest to our booking agent, and I don’t know that every band expresses as much interest in touring internationally as we do. I quit a job as a travel agent to join this band, so it’s nice to feel like I’m still a travel agent.

So I took some tweets from your Twitter page and I’ll repeat them back to you. Do you think you could give me some context or background information? “Cut the tag out and say you knit it”

Kline: Christmas present! You buy someone a sweater and then you cut the tag out and tell you knitted it! I thought it was a good piece of advice for the holidays…holiday advice from Frankie Cosmos.

“Frankie Cosmos: aka ‘The Boss’”

Kline: Oh yeah, that’s a new name for myself I’ve been working on…I don’t think anyone’s ever done this before–just gone by “The Boss”, you know? I’m such a good musician that I should just be called “The Boss”. It’s catching on!

Lauren Martin: I don’t know that any musician has done that, I don’t know of any prominent musician…especially not anyone from New Jersey.

“I got in touch with my emotions and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”

Kline: It’s totally true! Our tweets are pretty good…I think that one’s kind of nonsensical. I just thought that “and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” is really funny, I have been toying with that–kind of riffing on that for a while. I wanted to make shirts! I think I wrote that at a time I was getting in touch with my emotions, and sometimes it’s good for you, sometimes all you get is a lousy t-shirt!

Martin: “I went to see Frankie Cosmos and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”…you know, you can brag!

Alright: Pitchfork, over/under?

Pyenson: We can’t say anything bad about Pitchfork. I think some bands might doubt Pitchfork holds as much weight as a cultural influencer, but I think they do. And we’ve been very lucky to receive generous and abundant coverage from them. I don’t know if it’s overrated, because from an artist’s perspective who receives good coverage from them, I think it’s very valuable to us. I’ll go on the record and say that I don’t like the Pitchfork review of Next Thing because it doesn’t mention any music. It only talks about lyrics, so it reviews it as if it’s a selection of poetry…which is great and is obviously not downplaying the importance of lyrics in this band, but it’s weird to read a music review that doesn’t talk about music–and that happens a lot.

Maine: I think it’s BS that music journalism kind of controls careers to an extent.

Kline: I think music journalism in general might be overrated…but also, one of my favorite things about Pitchfork is when they give someone a bad review, and thus, turn that artist into an underdog that everyone loves and supports. That’s one of my favorite things. Sometimes they give a totally fine album a bad review. I think it’s more like whether or not they write about it is what effects it. I don’t know if it even matters what they say.

I know that you have become more of a role model and influence for a lot of people, just based on the way that you’re fronting a band and gaining momentum. I was reading the Pitchfork interview that you had: talking about how you said you weren’t fairly credited with your work, and even though you put in a lot of effort, people might not always contribute it to you completely. Do you have a message to your fans after the political happenings of this past week?

Kline: There are so many thing I want to say..this is advice for everyone: Just try and be aware of your privilege and your voice and try and not have a limited world view. I had a lot of feelings at the march, and I was thinking a lot about my perspective and how small it is–I feel like it’s a lot of pressure to speak to women’s experience and I feel there’s this weird thing where there can only be one “female-fronted” band in the world or something, and people feel like they have to choose the one they listen to. They should listen to lots and lots of different kinds of people making music and all kinds of different voices–and also their own voice–and figure it out from there. The world is so complicated and I think one thing that I’m trying to get in touch with is my own discomfort. It’s good to feel uncomfortable and try and give other people’s voices more attention than your own sometimes. Everyone should just grapple a little bit, that’s my news. That’s my message, to just grapple and to be ok with grappling, that’s what I’m trying to get down with in my life.

But also as a women, my advice to young women is you can always do better. You never have to get stuck in anything, just don’t listen to them. Follow your emotions and if something feels wrong, you’re probably right that it’s wrong. That’s my best advice for young women–that I wish someone said to me.

Any artist you guys want to plug?

All: Kero Kero Bonito, really big pinecone, Vagabon, Birthing Hips, Princess Nokia, Rivergazer, Cende.

Catch Frankie Cosmos on tour this summer:

May-05 | Boston, MA | Royale*
May-07 | Portland, ME | Port City Music Hall*
May-08 | Kingston, NY | BSP Kingston*
May-09 | Toronto, ON | Danforth Music Hall*
May-10 | Detroit, MI | Majestic Theatre*
May-11 | Grinnell, IA | Grinnell College
May-12 | Chicago, IL | The Vic Theater*
May-13 | Nashville, TN | Exit/In*
May-14 | Asheville, NC | The Mothlight
May-15 | Raleigh, NC | Lincoln Theater*
May-16 | Washington, DC | 9:30 Club*
May-17 | Brooklyn, NY | Brooklyn Steel*
May-18 | Baltimore, MD | Ottobar
May-19 | Philadelphia, PA | Union Transfer*

* w/ Real Estate

Listen to Next Thing:

Thanks to Greta and co. for the opportunity to interview, as well as Brooke and LMA for coordinating.

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