The Frantic is a pop/punk rock band from the south side of Chicago. They’ve played on the Warped Tour and Q101’s Twisted. They were selected as a breakout band by Blender Magazine. They’re heading out on a multi-state tour that will take them as far north as Albany, NY, and as far south as Tallahassee, FL. They’ll even be in Austin during the SXSW Festival in March.
And they’re a bunch of teenagers.
I sat down briefly with Kyle Dee (lead vocals & guitar), Brett Harwell (drums), and brothers Ian Farnesi (guitar) and Chris Farnesi (bass) before their set at Reggie’s. The “backstage” area of this new live music venue in the South Loop is accessed by a spiral staircase so tightly looped that only skinny musicians can traverse its coils with any level of comfort. Two small sitting areas connected by a narrow catwalk flank the stage, and a chain link fence keeps its residents from tumbling over the edge. Of course, that also means it’s really, really loud. We sat tightly grouped – Chris & Ian even sat on the floor – and chatted about their lives as rock stars.
In the world of rock and roll teenage bands are de riguer. Ones that have achieved the level of success these guys have met aren’t so common. Although one look at the contact information on their MySpace page might have you thinking they have handlers out the wazoo, don’t suffer from the illusion that they’re a boy band manufactured by labels and producers and pushy parents. This is their dream.
Chris has already graduated from high school, but the rest would be in their senior year. Now they’re basically being “home-schooled” and will get their G.E.D.’s. “This is our career,” Kyle said.
As far as a social life goes, they don’t really have one, Brett said. Ian, so soft-spoken it was hard to hear him, said he’s got “a small social circle” that he keeps in touch with. That makes sense, considering the number of years they’ve been at this. “We’ve been playing together as The Frantic since 8th grade,” Kyle said.
Having decided at a very young age what they wanted to be when they grew up, I asked if they had any advice for other bands. They said to be persistent and consistent, and don’t rush into it. Chris’s response? “Work your b*#~* off.”
I didn’t ask if they felt like they’d lost out on their youth, but they did volunteer that they’ve become a lot more mature. Much younger than most, they learned that when you want something, you have to believe in yourself and “don’t let people tell you no.”
They took that confidence to the stage, where they’re performers as well as musicians. Chris is the cool guy with the wild, tightly curled hair and the button down, untucked shirt. Brett, the rebel, whips his long hair around in a manner as choreographed as his drumming. Ian is cute and impish and smiles at the girls while wearing a Misfits t-shirt showcasing the Grim Reaper. Kyle is the lead singer with the hoodie up over his head, throwing water on the crowd, yelling at them to move up to the stage and shouting call and responses with words that I don’t say in front of MY mother.
The mom in me wants to wash out their mouths with soap. The fan in me wants to sing along. (The fan wins.)
I get the feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more about The Frantic. In today’s music world there may be grumbling about labels and radio play and publicists and the like, but it all comes down to the music and the passion, the drive and frankly, how entertaining they are. These guys have an OK Go appeal with solid musical influences like The Ramones. They seem to have their heads on straight and are using the “machine” for what it is – a way to get their music out there and to let them live their dream.