mighty music

A Chat with Herman Frank

DON’T LOOK LEFT, DON’T LOOK RIGHT, JUST GO FORWARD

Herman Frank’s output is astounding by any standard. He is the iconic guitarist for Victory, has five solo albums, has played with the legendary Accept, and is the producer of countless other works. Metal Digest had the chance to talk to him via Skype. I purposely did not ask about Accept and older subjects as I figured that was pretty well documented by now, but of course, older stories crept in. He is a down-to-earth chap and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. Lots of laughs and insight. Thanks, Herman. Talk soon.

Metal Digest: First thing first, of course, all the folks at Metal Digest appreciate your taking time out to talk with us. I realize it’s Friday evening there.

Herman Frank: I enjoy doing interviews in the evening, instead of the day because you can spend time doing something during the day and in the evening, do an interview…instead of just watching TV.

MD: So “Two For A Lie” is being released May 14. This is your fifth solo album. Right? And, of course, you’ve had many others aside from your solo work.

HF: Yes, it’s the fifth with “Herman Frank” on top.

MD: For your fans, what can they expect from the new album, and does it differ from previous ones?

HF: Lemme put it this way. If it has Herman Frank written on it, people know what they can expect. It will go “one, two, three, four” band starts and maybe the band comes in at the right time.  It’s fresh, powerful, classic Metal, nice hooks, and catchy riffs. Nice guitars and tunes that range from faster to slower.

MD: Catchy is a good word. I’ve listened to your previous work. A good rhythm or lead part that you can sing; that’s the hallmark of a good tune.

HF: That the trademark I’ve looked for right from the start as a youngster. I always try to compose in that style. That’s guitar music. Would you just put down three chords and let the keyboard do the work?  No.

MD: Your sound is very consistent and recognizable. In a few notes, you can tell, “this is Herman playing.”

HF: That’s the best compliment you can give me. I appreciate that. That’s what you’re looking for as a guitar player.

MD:  What I’ve heard so far from the new album and from previous work, I really enjoy it. It’s great stuff. I think the fans are gonna be happy as well.…“Two For A Lie” was not the original title? (A song lyric “truth for a lie” was misunderstood and the album subsequently was named “Two For A Lie.”)

HF: It’s more difficult coming up with an album title than writing the ten songs. Everyone expects you to be a member of “ The Dead Poet’s Society.” 

In interviews, a lot of people care more about looks than music. “What’s the meaning behind this and that?”  It’s just songs. It just sounds good.

MD: That’s a good point. Sometimes music is just there to be enjoyed for the sake of music. Nothing to be read into it or be taken away.

HF: I’m not some kind of singer-songwriter Yes, sometimes you’re looking for some meaning, but some of these songs are just songs. People don’t always wanna hear commentary about social problems. They want to listen to music and enjoy it and have a Rock n Roll party.

MD: I totally agree. I wish more people could take that advice.

HF: Right. Just relax for forty minutes or so and sing along and enjoy.

MD: You have another band as well. Victory. And they are active as well.

HF: Yeah. Actually, we just finished recording the new album last week, Mixing starts on Monday. I’m really excited about this too.

MD: I’ll be honest, I was not as familiar with Victory as much as your solo work. Kinda explain Victory to our readers.

HF: It’s more Rock n Rollish. (Victory was formed in 1986 and is active today.)   I think people may know  the “Native” album and “Temples of Gold.” Way back, I thought, why not make some more albums like this, and I guess the people went crazy for it.

MD: Well, there’s been more albums with Victory than albums under your own name so apparently there has been some level of success. That’s great…you’re a busy fella in other words.

HF: I like to keep myself busy.

I’m not a person to sit around for a week doing nothing. There’s not enough booze or beer here.

Maybe for a couple of days, but these days, I have to do something.

MD: You’ve been around for quite a while. What I like to call “seasoned.” In your early years, who were some of your primary influences as a guitar player, and what steered you in the direction of Metal?

HF: When I was a youngster, Ted Nugent was a favorite for sure. I saw the cover for “Double Live Gonzo” (that was it for me). And of course, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. It catches me from the start. And when I played in a school band, we’d always try to be like them.

MD: Not a bad thing to emulate.

HF: And I still enjoy their music now. And then Rainbow came along and Ritchie Blackmore…I’m not saying they are better necessarily (than modern bands.) You can’t really compare them to say…Blue Murder. Have you listened to them…with John Sykes? It’s just ..wow. And also Gary Moore.

MD: Gary Moore, I’ve been listening to him a lot lately, not sure why, but I’ve gravitated to his music.

HF: We toured with him with Victory and got to listen to him nearly every day. It was awesome. …and if you mention Judas Priest…nothing else to say. If I ever I ever had the chance to play with Judas Priest, I would leave for the airport right now.

MD: I’m surprised you haven’t played with them, at least on a festival bill or something.

HF: No, never. Maybe Accept did when I was not with them.

MD: I’ve only seen them once. The “Screaming For Vengeance” tour. I’m not super young myself. That’s one of the advantages of being a bit older; I’ve gotten to see a lot of music history. I’m thankful to have been a part of that.

HF: To Mr. Halford, please don’t stop touring. Give me a chance to see you guys live.

MD: I saw an interview with you from 1985…

HF: 1985??  I’m not that old. That must have been my older brother.

MD: Whoever was in the interview said, regarding Metal, ‘it is for the younger people because the older people don’t understand how the young people feel.’  That was some time ago, so I ask you the same question now.

HF: That was one of my first interviews ever.  It is still for youngsters. Sure, we are getting older, but I’ll put it this way. It is for people who are young at heart. When I said that in 1985, I didn’t expect anyone to ask the same question in 2021. I am 62 now and I still feel the same way I felt in 1985. It’s for people who live life like they are youngsters, or they are young at heart. You grow up and learn about the world, but from the bottom of my heart, I feel quite the same. That’s one of the best gifts to get.

MD: Wow, I can’t top that. I feel the same way. I still feel basically the same as I did back in 85 or 95. No concerts or anything going on now of course, but I heard a report, you were playing a few small events in Europe later this year? Tentative of course.

HF: Hopefully yes. Six months from now, hopefully, things will be better…it has to be better. Nothing lasts forever, of course. It’s been a year and a half now. A lot of musicians are complaining about not being able to go on tour, but I’m sure there have been times before when you didn’t tour for two or three years…and it didn’t kill you. In these times, if you go on tour, it may kill you.

MD: I could not agree more. (All in good time). So, when you play these upcoming shows, will you be playing primarily solo material or a mixture or…

HF: If I have my name on the bill, I will concentrate on my solo work. I would love to get 2 or 3 singers and do a show of all the music of my lifetime. Do a few Accept tunes, a few Victory tunes, some tunes from solo work, and every band I’ve been in. That would cool, but you need to find the right three singers first. Just as an old rocker, just go out there with the guitar and just thrash! It would be awesome.

MD: It would be a long list of songs to choose from.

HF: I may need a break in between. (some bands play 2 sets with an intermission) No, I won’t do that. Not my style.

MD: Looking at footage from over the years, I’ve seen you playing the Flying V, Gibson Les Paul, and Stratocaster. What is your main guitar these days?

HF: The main guitar is what you would call Stratocaster. It’s a hand-made model from a German company called Duesenberg. The owner of the company gave me this guitar back in 1987. That and a Les Paul Black Heritage are my favorites. The best part was when my daughter asked me why I was playing a pink guitar (??!!) It’s black and white, but I never noticed it was slightly pink. That’s when I started using black duct tape on it. I use the Stratocaster as the main guitar.

MD: There’s nothing wrong with a pink guitar. (then a protracted discussion on Gibson vs Fender and short vs long scale guitar necks, etc ensued)

MD: What would you say if your most memorable performance?

HF: There was a show with Accept in Poland at a festival, similar to Woodstock. 250,000 people there, quite a catchy moment. And also, when on tour in America, our tour manager, instead of a travel day, booked an extra show in the middle of nowhere. They had only three lights and we shared a PA with the food vendor. So, during the performance, you could hear, “your pizza is ready” over the speakers… Better than no show at all, it was a good rehearsal. And one time in Canada, we arrived for a show and they said we were announced a week ago. We arrived a week late.

MD: MD: So, did you keep your tour manager after that?   What is the biggest musical challenge you’ve ever had?…

HF: There is no challenge I can’t take. I am waiting for the biggest challenge.

No challenge Herman can’t handle.

I’m not afraid of anything, not at this point. Just don’t look left, don’t look right, just go forward.

MD: So, music aside, tell us about Herman the man. Any hobbies or anything?

HF: I’m back into sports again. Taking martial arts. Nothing too serious, but it’s good to train your body and brain. You have to keep yourself in good shape.

MD: In the last ten years, what is the best and worst thing that has happened to music?

HF:  The worst thing, computers. You can copy other people’s music whenever you want. And also, Spotify. It kills music. Artists don’t get paid for what they are doing. These days (generally), no one buys CDs or anything. It makes it very difficult to stay in the business. The best thing, personally, one of the good things is on Facebook, if there is a new band or if a band has new music, Facebook shows me. I am quite informed these days.  And it’s great so many bands are still around. (another extended conversation followed about seeing bands (Kiss, ZZ Top, Judas Priest) back in the day…) 

MD: So many stories, so many common stories. I could reminisce all day, but it may be even better to go forward as you said.

HF: It’s nice to have memories and look back, but you have to look forward. You have to have goals.

MD: Well Herman, again, on behalf of the team on Metal Digest, we appreciate your taking some time out to talk with us.

HF: It was a nice interview; I really enjoyed it. I appreciate it. It was nice talking to you. Perhaps when the new Victory album comes out in September, we can talk again.

MD: I would like that very much. Thank you very much. Goodnight.

Rick Altzi: vocals

Herman Frank: guitar  

Mike Pesin: guitar

Michael Muller: bass

Kevin Kott: drums

Craig Obert

Metal-Digest.com

Follow Herman Frank!

 Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5abLJ.

​ Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/artist/herma.

 Facebook: (2) HERMAN FRANK | Facebook

 Website: hermanfrank.com

Instagram: Herman Frank (@hermanfrankofficial)

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