To be Frank...

Hello and salute!

My name is Frank, but growing up my family called me Frankie. I think in attempt to not confuse me with my father, who is also Frank, or my uncle, Frank, or the many other Frank's at our Italian reunions, which when called, none of us turned to look. I was born in New York state, grew up on a dead end street called Elm St. with an Amtrak railroad about 200 yards from my house, AND only a hop, skip, jump away from Sleepy Hollow. I wonder why I love trains and horror movies? Around age 8, my family and I moved due North, upstate to a blink of a town. We had a church, a town hall, and a deli/bait shop, which I think have all burned down by now. Oh yeah, we had a volunteer fire station too. Even the house we lived in at the time was still on the old "operator" system where specific houses had a certain number of telephone rings, and that's how you knew the call was for your home. I remember being one of the first houses to get a computer.. Solitaire was probably the best program on that thing. until AOL came out.. I can still hear the dial-up modem.. Now that you realize how remote of a town I lived in was, you can maybe understand that there was nothing to do as a kid, except skip rocks on the pond, chop fire wood, walk an 1/8th of a mile to check the mailbox, and The Simpsons at 8pm before bed. I needed a hobby, but didn't know it. I've always been a very quiet kid, and I hadn't realized the power of music yet. Which is odd because my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc are all musicians and singers. And would even hold jam sessions and go to concerts all the time, and it never really had any direct influence on me. I am told though, that as a baby, my parents would always carry along a snare drum for me to beat on, because I apparently had a strong attachment to it.

I think it was 3rd grade, the school sent letters out recruiting for the school woodwind ensemble. My parents enrolled me as a percussionist, and had to fight to get me in apparently. So, took percussion lessons, and started performing in the school band the following year. We played, Sleigh Ride, The Nutcracker, Star Wars, Pachelbel's Canon etc I think 2 performances a year depending on the holiday. Found out I'm a human metronome, and became very interested at developing this talent. I think, by joining the school district at 2nd grade, it segregated me from the rest of the students, because even today, I feel like the outsider to the district, as all the other students grew up with each other. So, I had my snare drum as my best friend. Practicing rudiments like it was a drug addiction. And it remained that way all through high school. While others were getting their license, losing their virginity and other frowned upon things for their age, I was able to avoid all the peer pressures because I was already hooked on a drug. And that was music. By graduation, I had earned Section Leader of the percussion section for 3 years running, sang in the school chorus, collaborated with the music teachers on school dances and concerts, marching band, jazz band, performed a solo for NYSSMA and scored high enough to be handpicked for the All County band, played drum set and percussion in a pit for plays like "Guys & Dolls", and voted "Most Musical" in the yearbook. Someone finally noticed. I took it seriously and passionately and couldn't understand why others just couldn't get into it like me. I just had a memory while writing this, of hearing my name graduation day for a sponsorship, a teacher sponsored $100.00 to me, for music appreciation. I was completely shocked! I felt so invisible in that school, so it was an awesome feeling to be acknowledged. After graduation, the click of friends that I had and I kind of took a hiatus. I worked night shift at a new grocery store in town and lost any social life I had had. Eventually a childhood friend reached out, and we caught up, and decided to start a band. The night shift schedule just wasn't working, and so I eventually quit and found employment as a small engine mechanic. More money, daylight, human interaction - Done. So I was the drummer of this band, my friend the bassist, and we jammed with this aspiring guitar player at the time. We were horrible, but it was awesome.

Well, I was delivering heavy machinery for the company I worked for, and long story short, I got my leg crushed between 2 very large tractors. Remember when the ground lightly trembled and your lights flickered a bit? My apologies, I was screaming FU*K louder than any sound created by man. The injury was a blessing in disguise though, as while healing from the injury, I learned guitar, bass, and piano. Plus the unemployment benefits were nice. My first time actually being paid to play music ;-) LIVING THE DREAM!

My mother, and another mother at work one day, were bragging about their sons to each other. Mine, proud of my music background, and the other, proud of her son's Audio Production career at a recording studio. My mother comes home, and slides me an email to this guy, and says I should just say Hi, tell him about my background, and see if there were any job openings at this studio. I'm thinking this place can't be more than someone's living room and a tape deck. {For the young-ins, this is a tape deck..

So I get an email back, saying that the Studio takes in interns, and sometimes, but rarely, hire some interns. We set up a day and time to meet, as I'm totally intrigued now, and so I drive out there one early, brisk, March morning. Now it was a 45 minute ride away from my house, near Woodstock NY. And I can't explain the drive up this narrow, windy, secluded feeling road barely wide enough for 1 vehicle, scaling this mountain in the middle of NO where. I'm starting to get a lil nervous, like, this is some Deliverance bull-s###. I reach the front gate, buzz in, say I'm there for an interview, gates open, can only see over my hood of my Jeep Wrangler, and the road going up-hill in front of me. I start getting to the top, and I see this...

A mansion, on the top of Glen Tonche mountain. You know, the one next to the other mountain that David Bowie owns because of his appreciation and experience he had recording at Allaire Studios!!

Are you effin kidding me?!

The amount of pictures it would take to show you the beauty of this place, one - wouldn't do it any justice at all, and two- would consume the bandwidth of my web host. Definitely Google it.

After sweating through my interview, the head Engineer accepts me to intern at the studio. Imagine your most excited moment of your life. My moment topped it. No, it did.

I still remember....

"Can you play guitar?"..."Yes, I can"... "OK, I need you to go into our project studio, and pull out every guitar and every amp, effect pedal, etc, and play each one, take note of any thing that should be repaired or addressed" ......"YES! OK!!"

Such an amazing experience. I've met so many well known Artists, and learned so much! Needless to say, my experience interning, and then eventually being paid to work there, was a huge part of how I became obsessed with Audio Production, and Recording Music.

I unfortunately had to leave Allaire Studios, as I was only making minimum wage, and I had a bunch of debt starting to get away from me. So, dream job achieved at 19/20 years old? Not too shabby. I ended up bouncing around manual labor and assembly/mechanical jobs for a while until landing at a Semi- Conductor Corp as an Orbital Welder.

During this time, I was playing guitar in my Metal band RUIN

and also in my Rock Band, Beneath the Fallen

<-- RUIN at Pete Wing's Castle in Stanfordville NY

Beneath the fallen, some woods, upstate NY -->

I actually remember the reaction my boss gave me when I told him I needed a lot of time off to tour. Luckily, he was a massive music fan, and actually supported me pursuing my music. So, got the green light, and booked!

After tour, my first band, RUIN, dissolved. For so many reasons. All I can say; the road puts things in perspective. And it wasn't too long after, that Beneath the Fallen also had it's issues, with an almost rotating door with band members, making things unstable and so it fell.

Having my 2 babies of 6+ years each, dissolved, I became very depressed. It was hard for me. Have been performing for so long, and so invested into my projects, I didn't have anything else. Winters in NY don't help with depression. And so, I absolutely had it and needed to change something. Which brings me to Austin TX.

The music capital of the world. A mecca, of musicians, multi genres and multi cultures, not to mention amazing food!! Granted, there are select foods I miss terribly that you can only get in New York. More on that in another post, maybe :-)

I was only supposed to visit Austin for a week, to check it out, to see if it was worth setting roots there. I landed Saturday night. By Lunch- time on Wednesday I was quitting my job over the phone. Yup! No BS. when I flew back, I packed my stuff into a uhaul, said a really hard and emotional "bye" to my family and friends, and hit the road to start the new chapter in my life.

Since I've been in Austin, I've achieved so much. Ironically at a much faster rate than when I lived in NY. I played in a couple bands at first, but wasn't feeling it, I think just burnt out and still bitter about losing my other bands. At the time, I was developing my production skills AND was getting interested in composing movie scores, as I had just stumbled on virtual instrument libraries and learning how to use MIDI. I put out an ad on Craigslist trying to find film students or people YouTubing cat videos so I could start practicing my composing skills. Well, as fate would have it, an actual film production company emailed me in response to my ad. They needed music composed for an emergency production, and asked for my portfolio. I didn't have one! So I sweet talked my way in by saying, since they were in a rush, just give me some music to reference and I'll compose a track in that style and have it to them by the end of the week. They referenced a song by Hans Zimmer, one of my most influential film composers. SO, buckled down, and in 8 hours came up with a song I call "Martyr Operation". Take a listen here, if interested...

The rest is history, as they say. Since that time I've scored many film projects, both local and nationally. Check out my past work for some examples!

As I started accumulating more and more gear to satisfy my thirst on creating better compositions and productions, I decided to start recording bands, as I was equipped enough to record a full band, live, and on location, anywhere in town. That's when WILLGUARD PRODUCTIONS was born.

Since then, I've been so involved in the music world. Recording bands, Producing artists, Composing film scores. It's been a trip! And so grateful towards my clients for their trust in me, and their support. Each client, becomes an immediate friend.

SO this not so short story, is basically my development as a musician, producer, composer, entrepreneur... and figured it made sense as my first Blog post. So that you can get a little better understanding of who I am.

I'd really like to know what you thought of my first post! Leave comments, ask questions, make a discussion about the post, suggest what I should write about in upcoming posts, what really interests you about Willguard Productions? What interests you in Music in general? What would you really look forward to me talking about? I want to hear from you!

#RecordingEngineer #MixingEngineer #MusicProducer #Musician #Composer #RecordingStudio #AudioProduction #Longhair #Rock

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