Frank Baker, Canadian Rock Drummer for Trooper and Sweeney Todd. Interview March 6, 2012
Sweeney Todd Interview
1. How is 2012 starting off for you and Sweeney Todd?
I find Jan. & Feb always a slow start. At the beginning of each year there’s phone calls and email threads going around with possible gig dates, set ideas, songwriting and recording.
2.What are your current projects?
Right now the big one for me is collaboration between myself & long time friend Jon Roper called Friction Project. Hopefully should have it released by late March. Having my own studio really helped me to get involved with quite a few projects as well. Just in the last few months I’ve done drum tracks for Nick Gilder (Sweeney Todd), John Letendre, Sean Garrett, Flat Black, Joey Wowk, and Andy Lorimer. I also play in a few cover bands (Madhouse, CEO with guitarist Dave Martone, and Manifesto).
3. What’s your vision on the Internet as a tool to promote and get your music out?
The buzz word I keep hearing is “Viral”. Please dear Lord, make this Youtube video go “Viral”. I find the Internet for promoting is a free-for-all mash-up which cannot be ignored. I find Facebook fascinating, especially for promotion. Between band mates I’ve seen well over 10,000 invites sent out to Facebook friends advertising a show and have maybe have 150 people show up. We’re inundated with so much advertising on the internet that unfortunately it becomes more impersonal and easily glossed over. On the other hand, with youtube, CD Baby, reverbnation, etc… self promotion has never been easier.
4. With all the bands coming out today. Do you keep updated with what comes out online at all?
I’m always checking out new bands online. Good o’l Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, with all my muso friends pushing their new songs via Reverb Nation, Youtube, etc, really helps keep on top with what’s happening.
5. How is the current Music scene in your area?
I think there’s been a definite improvement over the years with the local scene. I find there’s been a real appreciation for live music, especially if you play well. People are listening again, it’s exciting. The one thing I’ve noticed too is it’s the 40 & up age bracket driving the live music scene hard out on the west coast.
6. What are some of your main influences as a drummer?
Stewart Copeland from The Police was probably my biggest influence starting out. I try to learn as much as I can from each genre of music and gravitating to the drummers that I feel has really mastered that style. Right now I’m listening to Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers, Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Chris Coleman (just to name a few) for inspiration.
7. As drummer how important to keep your chops up to date and fresh?
Absolutely!!! I practice as much as I can to keep up the chops and the endurance. I’m always learning new songs that range from jazz to death metal. I never turn down an opportunity to jam with a band. My goal is always be able to provide a necessary part for a song.
8. What could we find interesting in your record collection?
I’m a big fan of the Swing era music from the mid 30’s to the mid 40’s. I also love classical music, show tunes. I recently just purchased “The Wiz” soundtrack.
9. Are there any other products or projects we can see from you in the future?
That’s a hard question since my life path seems to be planned about three weeks into the future. I definitely have things in the works, but whether they come to fruition is wide open.
10. Could you describe what goes on in a day in your life as a musician on tour?
Normally my day starts off at the Airport (YVR) around 6am, begging and pleading at check-in to not charge me for my oversized baggage. Once we arrive at our destination airport, we pile into vans and drive (sometimes up to 5 hrs) to the gig. Unload, sound check, hotel check-in, dinner and then if I have time, I love to do touristy stuff around the area I’m playing in. Every band I play in has a rule that we set a lobby call time and travel together to the concert. This is when the show starts, comradery comes together, energy starts to build, and the feeling that we are a band really comes together. Backstage prior to show is like Grand Central Station with everyone milling around. Trooper had rule band members only in the dressing room 15 min. before the show. After the gig, we would hang out, eat, drink, discuss the show; sign autographs get back to hotel around 2am. Repeat…
11. Could you describe how it was to tour with Trooper?
My time with Trooper was Incredible. This is a band that has touring down to a science. I use to come back from 6 week tour well rested and in shape. Ra said to me when I joined Trooper they had two rules; always do your best and have the most possible fun doing it. These guys really had a great time, always played well and put on a great show. The one thing I really learned was the power of playing a hit song with the actual band. Trooper has a set full of hit songs which helps the audience reciprocate back huge amounts energy and love. This band could also command any stage raging from a little 200 seat club to playing for 50,000 people at a festival. Trooper also took time on days off to stay in fun, recreational parts of Canada. Smitty, gogo, & myself found ourselves on a blinged out cigarette boat in the middle of Lake Erie going 90 miles an hour on a day off. Trooper is definitely a passionate band; they’re good because they care.
12. Will there be any new Sweeney Todd album coming out?
I sure hope so… Nick’s been writing and recording over the past year and he’s come up with brilliant songs. We’ve also re-recorded the song “The Warrior”, which Nick wrote while with the label Chrysalis Records and given to the band Patty Smyth & Scandal for there release.
13. Are there any tours lined-up for you and Sweeney Todd in 2012?
Right now there’s been some “anchor dates” booked around parts of Canada and a few pending in the U.S. We’re hoping to tie these into some touring.
Check out Sweeney Tood and Frank Baker Online http://www.frankbakerdrums.com/