Frankie Clarke on Igniting a Glam Rock Revival ++ Exclusive premiere of Frankie + The Studs “SHE’S INSANE”
Joan Jett, David Bowie, and T.Rex have big (and often sparkly) shoes to fill, but Frankie and The Studs aren’t afraid to pull them on. Their sound is gritty and hits between the eyes with songs like “High on Yourself” that quickly spark visions of leather clad bands playing standing room only dive venues in the heydey of New York’s punk rock scene.
But this isn’t the early 70s, it’s the tail-end of a decade marked by its return to 90’s fashion and references to 80s synth pop ruling the radio, but if you ask frontwoman Frankie Clarke, the world is finally ready to herald in a return to a more glamorous brand of rock and roll.
Frankie is arguably the perfect rock amalgamation, daughter of Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, she took her first steps on a tour bus and played in her first band at just 11 years old. In the past year, Frankie and The Studs have graced sacred stages in New York and Los Angeles, and with no signs of slowing down, we asked Frankie about life on the left coast, being a second generation rockstar, and what it takes to ignite a glam rock revival ++ premiere the video for “She’s Insane”!
I know you grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by rock and roll and the glitz and glam that comes along with that lifestyle, does that ever leave you feeling jaded about Hollywood?
I still love Hollywood, but for me, I’ve always been kind of torn between New York and LA. For some reason, I thought that maybe New York was a better fit for me because of the punk rock scene there but I spent some time in New York over the summer and I realized that LA was home. LA has so much rock and roll history with The Sunset Strip, the clubs that are there like [Whisky a Go Go] and the Viper Room, which we played this past month. It’s just really cool to play those places and think about what other acts have played there and it’s really inspiring. Ideally, I’d like to spend time in both places, like if I could go to New York when it’s not cold (laughs) I’d spend some time there.
In the band bio, you’re referred to as a ‘rebel with rock star blood in your veins’ does being the daughter of rock and roll royalty give you added pressure?
I’ve always felt like it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in the way that my dad is kind of like my mentor. He’s like my biggest critic besides myself I’ve always said, because when I’m playing he’s like ‘you should play it this way’. He really guides me with the music part of it because he knows so much. But, as far as my career I really want to build it myself. When I reach out to clubs and venues about booking shows I don’t mention my dad I just want to start from the bottom because I feel like that’s the only way it feels rewarding is if I build it myself and not piggyback off of his success.
I read this quote from you that I loved, it was “I just wanna bring leather jumpsuits back” and I support you fully in that endeavor. What role does fashion play in your life and your music?
For me, I’ve always been inspired by 70s glam rock and I always felt that the fashion was just as important as the music for that scene, so I’ve kind of taken inspiration from that. I got into glam rock because my parents introduced it to me when I was really young because they’re both fans. It started with T.Rex for me, I love the way that he dresses and I love his music. The leather jumpsuit has kind of been something I adapted and was inspired by Suzi Quatro and Joan Jett of course, but now I’m starting to consider getting one in every color. It’s just kind of my thing now.
So much of what is in fashion right now is a call back to the 80s and 90s, why the affinity for the 70s?
I like 70s glam rock because of the glitter rock aspect of course. I love glitter, I love platform boots and leather jumpsuits and just the colorful glitz and glamour of it all but it still has that raw edgy gritty feel. I think that glam rock is still relevant today because of the androgyny and gender bending, gender fluidity, liberation, rebellion theme of it all.
Are there any artist out right now that you are influenced by or feel are getting it ‘right’ musically?
I really like The Struts, I’ve seen them play a couple of times, and I like how [Luke Spiller] is kind of like a reincarnation of Freddie Mercury. They have the rock and roll influence but they sound new, they sound current, and I think that’s what appeals to younger people and I think it’s cool that they can probably introduce some young people to rock and roll that way. Maybe some people didn’t know who Queen was, but because they follow Luke on Instagram, now they know. I think Luke actually said once that he was a really big fan of The Darkness and he didn’t even know about Queen yet, but his mom was like ‘if you like The Darkness, you’ll like Queen.’
I love the sound of your single “High on Yourself.” Were there any songs that you heard during your musical education that made you want to play and sing with that gritty directness?
One of the first songs I learned on guitar was “20th Century Boy” by T. Rex so that song has always been in my head. Obviously “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways. I was introduced to them when I was really young because I had an all girl rock band at the time, and that was really a game changer for me. I was in my all girl rock band and my dad was like ‘you should really hear The Runaways’ so I listened to them and they really inspired me and continue to inspire me. Joan Jett is my hero.
You’ve been playing shows for the past year now, what are you most looking forward to happening in the next year?
We haven’t really been on a tour but we’ve been playing shows here and there in LA, we played Lollapalooza, then we played a couple in New York. Really I’m looking forward to just going out on the road and getting dirty and being in a van and playing every night and really bonding as a band. I feel like the more we play the more chemistry we have on stage the more we figure out who we are and what we want to say as musicians. I’m excited to see what going on tour will do and change.
We played at a couple different places [in New York] a lot of the crowd that came to the show and the areas that we were in were where that New York punk scene started, so it was really kind of inspiring to be like wow we’re where The Ramones, New York Dolls were. There were actually some people that came to our show that were very much involved in the scene at that time and they liked what we were doing. That’s cool if we have the approval of the New York punk rockers, we’re doing something right.
As far as New Music, what’s up next for Frankie and The Studs?
We have three songs up on iTunes and Spotify and we’re going to be releasing a new video in January for the song “She’s Insane” and we have a new song that we’re recording right now that’s kind of a different vibe for us, but we’re really excited about it. Hopefully, we’ll just keep releasing new songs next year. We’re constantly writing and coming up with new ideas.