A veteran of the Philadelphia music scene, Katie Frank is a singer-songwriter with some sass in her brand of roots rock music. She recently released a fun music video for her song, “Politician” featuring some familiar Nashville faces. She has a new album on the horizon; Small Town Minds was produced in Nashville by Bobby Holland at Pentavarit. I caught up with Katie about leaving Philadelphia for Nashville, recording her new songs and that music video!
AnaLee: I’m so glad you reached out to WMOT, Katie. I’ve really enjoyed the two new singles you’ve released, “Politician” and “Dark Cloud” and we’ll talk about those in a bit. You got to Nashville not too long before the tornado and pandemic shut us down. Welcome to Nashville! Tell us a little about your background, did you grow up in Philly and was there a particular artist or type of music you were into that inspired your musical journey and led you to Nashville?
Katie: Thank you, Ana Lee! I’m very glad I sent my songs your way. I grew up in Elizabethtown, a small town in Lancaster county, PA. But I went to college in Philadelphia, loved the city and ended up staying for 10 plus years. I grew up in a family of musicians, but as a kid I was resistant toward learning an instrument until I sort of fell into the Suzuki piano method. I stuck with that until I had to learn to read music, which I hated. Not long after that I picked up a guitar and found songwriting, and that became my outlet. Narrowing my influences down is tough, as I grew up listening to so many artists. I can remember seeing Brandi Carlile open for Train back in 2006, I was 16 at the time and was completely blown away by her. I remember thinking “that is what I want to do.”
After college, I moved to west Philly, started writing again and got mixed in with an eclectic scene of musicians. I recorded my first ever EP, and started playing around town with my band as Katie Frank and the Pheromones. I love the Philly music scene, and I’m still pretty connected to it. But after several years, I was craving a change. I was also working on an album where I felt I had lost creative control, so I decided to take a step back. I reached out to my friend Josh Werblun, who was living in Nashville at the time and decided to come down for a visit. I did a few writing sessions down here and that was it. We moved here summer of 2019, about 8 months before the tornado and pandemic shut everything down. It was certainly daunting at first, as it was for everyone, but I’m so glad I was able to write and record new music during that time.
AnaLee: I’m a big fan of the work Bobby Holland has done producing Maggie Rose and Them Vibes as well as creating with his band, The Daybreaks at his studio, Pentavarit, where you made your new record, Small Town Minds. Can you talk a little about your recording experience and how you initially connected with Bobby and decided to work together?
Katie: Yes, Bobby is great! We actually met because he was my friend’s roommate at the time. It was early 2020, right before the pandemic hit, and I was ready to record new music and was looking for a producer. So, Bobby and I chatted, exchanged songs, and it just made sense. We recorded the first few songs from the album days before quarantine, when nobody knew the weight of what was about to happen or how long it would last. We recorded the second batch of tunes in the fall of 2020, fully masked and socially distant - which sure makes for a different live tracking experience, but it can certainly be done.
AnaLee: The first single you sent me was “Politician” and you made a sort of mini movie with this music video. The whole cast has been featured on The Local Brew Hour, and your co-worker in the video, is played by Shelby Marvel who works with artists like her dad, Kendall Marvel and a Local Brew favorite, Erin Viancourt. Great band, fun song and video, can you tell us about making it and your cast of Nashville notables, including your band?
Katie: I’m so glad you enjoy the video! I wrote the song “Politician” about a past co-worker of mine who was by no means a team player, and much like a politician, only cared about making herself look good. So, I wanted the video to portray that experience, but in a funny and relatable way. We needed someone to play the “Regina George” co-worker part, so my friend Josh who directed the video, reached out to Shelby. She saved the day and totally killed the role. Robert Gay plays the cop, clearly, we could not have chosen a better person. He’s also a great local artist/multi-instrumentalist. The band in the video is made up of my husband Jon McNally on drums, Mike Eli LoPinto on guitar and Jon Shoemaker on bass. The store scenes were shot at Nikki Lane’s High Class Hillbilly, which she was kind enough to let us use for a few hours. We made this video on a DIY budget during a pandemic with a gimbal and an iPhone. I’m very happy with how it turned out, thanks to Josh Werblun and his vast repertoire of creative abilities.
AnaLee: Your newest song, “Dark Cloud” was just released a couple of weeks ago. Will you continue releasing singles this year as you work towards the release of your new album and is there a release date for Small Town Minds?
Katie: Yes, I will be releasing more songs in the coming months. I’m so excited about these tunes and how they turned out, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear them. I’ve got some fun things in the works. We are still feeling things out, but looking to release the album this fall. Be on the look-out for more singles this summer.
Katie Frank, “Politician”