Frank Hannon is the kind of guitar player who not only speaks through his instrument and his music but most likely cannot even walk by a guitar without feeling the urge to play it. After decades of writing, recording and touring with his band Tesla it would be hard to fault him if he wanted to take some time off part of the year to wind down and decompress but that’s just not how he’s wired. In fact, The Frank Hannon Band is currently spending the winter months touring behind his latest solo release, ‘ Six String Soldiers’, performing many of the new songs, some classic Tesla tunes and a few other surprises. The next dates start January 11th on the west coast but keep your eyes peeled for more dates forthcoming and pick up their album which is start to finish great. Way back in 1989 Tesla had a song called ‘Did It For The Money’ but it was always readily apparent that was one of the last things they would do, it’s always been about the pure rush of playing music. I talked with Frank about the old days, these days and much more. Read on’
Legendary Rock Interviews: Everyone is digging your latest album Frank. ‘Six String Soldiers’ is your third solo effort right?
:This is my third solo effort, yeah. My first was called ‘Guitars From Mars’, my second was more of an acoustic, introspective, storytelling kind of album where I did all the vocals, instruments and lyrics myself. That was ‘Gypsy Highway’ which was a total self produced album. This latest album ‘Six String Soldiers’ is a collaboration with some guys that I met from Albuquerque, New Mexico who had never made an album before, Mike Araiza who is our other guitarist and Jeff Sandoval our singer. I met Mike through a guitar battle that I judged down in Albuquerque. He won the guitar battle and was really great and sat in with Tesla at a show we were doing there. We hit it off and started writing and recording these songs. So, again, it’s something different. I’m kind of an artist who’s always trying to do new things, I don’t like to repeat myself. I like to explore different styles and different influences so each one of my records is different. This one’s much more hard rock. ‘Gypsy Highway’ had banjos and dobro slide and was real personal lyrically where ‘Six String Soldiers’ is really built around rock riffs and drums and my singer Jeff Sandoval’s voice, he has a really strong, rock and roll kind of voice.
LRI: I saw TESLA this past summer in Wisconsin and it was just as amazing as ever but what was really cool was you did a little spot mid-show on the acoustic playing one of the new tracks. You’re pretty used to transposing your stuff back and forth from acoustic to electric though aren’t you?
Frank: Well thank you, first of all. Yeah, I did that in my little acoustic segment there. I learned long ago that a decent song can be played in any fashion if the melody is good. You can play it on acoustic or you can play it on electric, bongos or no bongos. It’s really important to know that but they don’t teach that in guitar lessons when you first start out learning to play guitar. You can learn scales and chords and modes but they should have a whole section on songwriting and arranging really. Luckily, I was able to learn that at a really young age.
LRI: When you do a spot like that and play not only alone and exposed but also play new material that people aren’t aware of there’s always the chance that the crowd will take a beer and t-shirt break or tune out. Your material is not that far removed from Tesla’s though so the crowd seemed to really dig it. Was the reaction to your solo spot generally really positive most nights?
Frank Hannon talks:Yeah and I do take a risk doing that in that part of the Tesla set but so far so good. During the shows the audiences have really reacted great and I do go and read the stuff people put up on Facebook and stuff and for the most part people are really diggin my solo stuff, which I appreciate. I am one of the main songwriters in Tesla and I do write a lot of those tunes so that would make sense, like you said, that it’s not that far removed, especially on this latest album. Now my ‘Guitars From Mars’ album is a little different, that one is ahhh, I went out to outer space there (laughs).