Laid-back Liège rock outfit Frank Shinobi were one of the three Belgian bands who took to the stage at last weekend’s Microfestival. We had a chat backstage with the four-piece – also the founders of music collective Honest House – about ninja computer games, their next album and making music just for fun.
Who’s Frank Shinobi?
He’s a sort of legend for us. He’s to music what Keyser Söze is for the cinema. Shinobi is also the name of a ninja computer game.
Your debut album was released in 2010. Are you working on new material?
Yes, we’ve been writing a lot of new songs.
What’s the creative process like for the band?
Everyone brings their ideas to the table and then we make something out of it together. Someone presents one of his ideas at the rehearsal and then we all build on it.
How’s the new album different from the old one?
It’s even better! We took more time to write it and we simplified the composition a bit. We always try to do something better than before – which doesn’t necessarily mean that the public will like it better. The new songs are songs that you should listen to with your headphones on, maybe. Our first two EPs were a bit more pop; with the debut album we tried to do something quite technical and now it’s more direct, frontal and rock than before. But you still hear that it’s us, of course.
Was the recording process different too?
For the debut album we played sets and recorded all of us at the same time. And we only had a very short period of time to do it because we worked with a guy from 31 Knots who came all the way from the US. Now we’d really like to take our time.
Must have been great to work with a guy who’s also one of your big influences…
It was really cool. We got along great, he stayed with us in our homes and we were on the same wavelength.
How much influence did he have on the album?
He didn’t produce. He gave us some advice and was responsible for the mixing. And when it comes to the mixing, we really didn’t have to say much – it was pretty perfect. He really got us.
Do you already have someone in mind to work with for the next album?
We probably won’t work with him again because it’s too costly. We only had 12 days with him because of budget limitations and feel like this time we’d really like to take our time and not rush things. That’s why we’ll probably record everything at home in our rehearsal place and get it mixed by some friends.
Do you feel like you’re part of a certain scene here in Liège?
Yes, especially because we’ve also been running the indie rock collective Honest House since 2005 – and we also organise concerts. There’s the label on one side and promotion work on the other side. We’ve always had a DIY attitude. We used to work with a booking agency but actually we’ve found more gigs than them.
Have you taken on any new bands lately?
It’s difficult because we don’t have that much money but recently we took on two more bands: It It Anita and Umungus. The human relationships are really important to us. If we like the music but not the guys in the band, it doesn’t work.
What do you guys do when you don’t play with the band?
We all have completely normal, boring day jobs. We’re neither professionals nor amateurs. We don’t make music to earn our living with it one day. If we did, we would’ve chosen another style. Can we go now? We really want to see Peter Kernel…frankshinobi.bandcamp.com