Without question, rock ‘n’ roll is in Frankie Clarke’s blood. The daughter of a guitar legend and fashion visionary, it’s no surprise that she gravitated towards the rock scene at an early age. While her unique childhood helped influence her path in life, Frankie’s presence is completely original both onstage and in her recordings. Her band, Frankie and the Studs, serves up an energy that pays tribute to the iconic glam and punk bands of the past while delivering a hot, fresh interpretation of what rock music truly is. That energy quickly scored them a coveted spot touring with bay area punk band the Longshot – fronted by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. With a long and promising career ahead of her, Frankie Clarke reassures us that rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead – not even close.
When did you first begin playing guitar, and when did you realize that you wanted to pursue music?
I took an interest in playing music when I was four years old, but I didn’t start playing guitar until I was ten. I was always drawn to guitar, but my parents thought piano would be a good introduction for me. Then I saw the movie “School of Rock” when I was ten and thought, “if those kids can play in a rock band, then so can I!” I started my first band with my fifth-grade classmates, which was an all-girl band called “Sweet Gone Sour.” We had a couple of original songs, one of them being titled “School Sucks,” but we also played covers like “American Idiot” by Green Day and “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
I’ve always been influenced by bands like The Ramones, Green Day, The Clash, etc. I love melodic punk music. I’m also obsessed with Hayley Williams from Paramore and Julian Casablancas from the Strokes, lyrically and stylistically I’ve found so much inspiration in their music.
What gear are you currently using?
I’m pretty minimalistic with my gear. I play a Fender Telecaster and use a Vox AC15 amp live. No pedals, just straight through. I play rhythm in the band, and I love the contrast in sound between my setup with my lead guitar player, Anthony’s Les Paul and Marshall combo.
What is your approach to writing songs?
My approach is always to go with the flow. I try to stay open-minded and write with a pen and paper. Something about physically writing out lyrics helps me not overthink when I’m writing. It feels slightly more permanent than typing. Sometimes I’ll start with a melody idea, and other times I’ll start with a title or lyric idea. I don’t really have a formula when I start, but once I come up with the melody and chords, I’ll bring it into my band to jam out, and that’s when it really comes to life.
Do you have a favorite show moment or a favorite moment from being on tour?
One of my favorite moments on tour was when we were touring with the Longshot in Seattle at Chop Suey, and I crowd surfed for the first time with the help of my drummer, Nick, and guitarist Anthony. They lifted me up, and I made my way to the stage and danced around with the Longshot guys like a total goof. That was honestly not just one of the most fun shows I’ve ever played but also that I’ve attended.
Have you managed to stay creative during quarantine?
In the beginning of quarantine, I was writing a lot, but I’ve been finding it difficult to stay inspired without live music and traveling. I’ve been reading more, watching a lot of YouTube videos, and listening to new music to try to stay inspired. I also started a YouTube channel where I talk about music and do my makeup, which has been a new creative outlet for me. Oh, and I started a TikTok, haha – not sure how long that will last. So the answer is yes!
Do you have any advice for younger artists looking to forge their own path in the music industry?
Don’t get discouraged. Whether it be practicing, writing, playing shows (eventually), it’s easy to think you’re not progressing, but you are. Sometimes I sit back and think my career should be further than it is, but my mom always told me, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” so focus on what you can control like improving your craft and continuing to learn. So many times I’ve wanted to quit because I compared myself to others. I think it’s best to be inspired by others, but be you!
Frankie and the Studs EP, “Cheap Talk” and other tracks can be heard on iTunes and by visiting www.frankieandthestuds.com