This is 252 S. 10th Street in Philadelphia PA. It’s a rather unassuming row home and looks similar to just about every other row home in the city. However, just like any location, there’s always a history.
This is where Ralph lived when he first moved into the city and out of his Mom’s house in Mt. Airy.
He and some friends rented the first floor apartment and his room was where the two basement windows are. Behind those two small windows is where Franklin began to practice that first summer in 1992 after we had graduated High School. Stavroula lived across the street above her parents Greek restaurant and we would spend many, many afternoons on those steps and in Sula’s family restaurant.
I always meant to stop and take a photo of this old building for my own memories…this morning I finally did.
AM/FM, while being a gang of two, was intently focused on working with friends. Mike and I would always be looking for friends who were available to come into the studio and add their own touches to the songs we were working on. We never told them what to play or how to play it, we simply gave them a recorded version of the song and had them come in and work it out. It just made every experience that much more fun and obviously, communal.
From 1999 thru 2001, AM/FM was pretty much in the studio recording perpetually thanks to our friendship with Terry Yveres. Terry had played in several bands around Philly and started recording music as well and had a great set up at a studio called The Meatlocker. Located at 5th and Elsworth (or, the Nickle as others might call it) the Meatlocker was just that, an old meat storage locker that was turned into a warehouse and then into a studio. For AM/FM, it became a bunker from which we were able to spend hours and hours mucking about with the music we were making. Mike and I, along with Terry our unofficial 3rd member, formed a pretty great bond over those couple of years and I’ve often felt that those days were some of my most rewarding musical experiences. Just sitting in a studio with a couple friends knocking ideas about and seeing what happened.
On our second LP, Getting Into Sinking, we really started attempted more complex arrangements than we were used to. I don’t mean that in a compositional way, but more in a logistics sort of way. More on that in the future.
Probably the keystone track of Getting Into Sinking for us was the song Come Suck Down a Cloud. Written after a 72-mile bike ride with Mike and Atom on Cape Cod, the song was then recorded to 4-track upon my return home. That demo was then whittled about at the Meatlocker and released on a CDEP on the label Cooking Vinyl in the UK.
Once we started working on Getting Into Sinking as a proper LP, Come Suck Down a Cloud song was massaged even more and ultimately, the decision to enlist a chorus for the big ending was made. However, keeping in the tradition of working with our friends, we made numerous phone calls and scheduled a day in February to have everyone come to the studio to sing live on the track.
Mike brilliantly decided to bring a camcorder with him to record the events of that day and that VHS tape has sat pretty much dormant since that cold day in February, 2001. That is, until I bought myself a video capture device.
Presented above is the edited documentary of the AM/FM Philadelphia Good News Singers performing on AM/FM’s song, Come Suck Down a Cloud.
Last night Ralph was in town. What I thought was going to be a casual dinner turned into this odd reunion of sorts. While the reunion aspect of the get together was only in hindsight, its significance wasn’t lost on me nor the others involved.
Starting in the left hand corner of the photo we’ve got Roy Binnion, Brian Sokel (me), Atom Goren, Greg Giuliano, Stavroula Kritikos and Ralph Darden. Or, if we were talking gangs, !Franklin 1.0 and Franklin 2.0 with Atom & His Package. With actual planning I would have made sure to get Josh to this get together for a universal high-five. Hopefully next time.
To add to the silly nostalgia, this photo was snapped by Shawn Kilroy who just happened to be at the bar when we all arrived. Shawn who played in Dizrythmia and wrote this piece for this blog.
If you were to tell me 20 years ago, in the summer of 1992 just after we had recorded this first demo, that we’d all meet up again to hang out, joke around and catch up I’d have said, “I can’t wait.”
If there is one thing Franklin wasn’t it was well spoken. Of course, I suppose it’s rare for any group of 20-somethings to be well spoken when it comes to anything, let alone the music they play. Especially if the four individuals who make up the band that makes the music they are discussing have wildly varying opinions on the music community to which they belong, the music to which they listen and the way music should be absorbed in general.
In short, it’s really hard for an interview not to come across as random and disjointed and, more concerning, the person being interviewed not to sound like a complete moron.
Perhaps it’s not all our fault. Music interviews are rather difficult beasts and it’s rare to meet a reporter or interviewer who has very much new to say. Typically, an interview is conducted on the fly sitting in a noisy location like a city park with no real time to listen and consider the questions being asked. In addition, the questions being asked can be rather ordinary and rote leading to even less interesting responses. It’s just a recipe for disaster.
So let’s not consider the disaster. Let’s just be in awe of the fact that anyone decided to take time out of their day to discuss anything at all with the fellas who played in Franklin.
Today, we’ve got two interviews. The first, by Eddie Ugarte originally appearing in his Ghetto Blaster fanzine. The interview was done one afternoon before we played Bonnie’s in NYC. The interview would have been around 1999 and the release of our self-titled final album. Check out the sweet little review of AM/FM’s first EP Audiot in the side-bar!
The second interview reiterates my original point that sometimes it’s best not to say anything because reading this interview makes my skin crawl! Sadly I do not know the name of the zine this appeared in…if you do, let me know!
A while back I posted a photo taken by Shawn Brackbill. I was able to rifle thru my files and came up with a whole slew of other shots he took of Franklin playing out in Pittsburgh, PA where he was living at the time. These shots were around 1997 (I believe).
Great shots by a truly wonderful fella and photographer.