The Rat Pack Meets the Ramones: Franks & Deans Play Your Grandparents Favorite Songs at 180 BPM
Try as hard as your stepdad might with that Foghat tune, cover bands will always be the epitome of lame. Unless of course they are following in the tradition of the great American songbook, and not simply trying to match the greats note-for-note, but reinventing the songs to make them their own. There may be no greater example of that principle in action than Las Vegas’ own, Franks & Deans, who stick to the swingin’ hits of the lounge crooner era, but at the blitzkrieg pace of Blitzkrieg Bop. The Rat Pack meets the Ramones, all buzzsaw guitars and three-part harmony. Guitarist and co-vocalist Ryan Sampson took the time to answer a few questions for The Messenger to preview the show.
RVM: Did the band come together with its core concept in mind, or did that happen on its own?
RS: Rob came up with the concept years ago, while was playing in another punk band. Eventually, he formed the beginning phase of the band with our drummer, Pip. Soon, Hoss followed, and I moved down to Las Vegas to join the band a year later.
RVM: What drew you to focusing on the Rat Pack?
RS: The four of us all grew up on the songs from the era. We also grew up playing in various punk and ska bands. The mashup of these two elements just seemed perfect. We’re playing songs that we love in the styles that we love.
RVM: When the Beatles arrived in America, they were asked “what do you think of the comment that you’re nothing but a bunch of British Elvis Presleys.” So, what do you think of the comment that you’re nothing but a bunch of Vegas Me First and the Gimme Gimmes?
RS: It was inevitable. The Gimmes have held that top spot for over 20 years. To even be placed in the same category as those guys, whether it be positive or negative, is very humbling. Those guys are responsible for some of our favorite records. Without their regular bands, we’d lose over half of our material.
RVM: Punk covers are notorious for happening quick and dirty, but there are a lot of complex harmonies and changes in your versions. How much do you experiment before settling on an arrangement?
RS: Sometimes a song will take forever to figure out, and sometimes it will happen in an instant. Hoss, Rob, and I are all choir boys, so it’s fun to mess around with different arrangements. It’s cool to mix those three part harmonies with a fast 4/4 beat. Everyone also has their own methods of writing. Rob is the mashup master, Hoss is the crooner, and I’m the Doo Wop guy. It’s a neat dynamic.
RVM: In your experience, how do the Rat Pack die-hards react to Franks & Deans?
RS: For the most part, the Rat Pack fans love it. I think after they watch the first few songs, they understand that we’re putting a new spin on the old standards. It also gives a lot of people a fun sense of nostalgia. On the other side of the coin, we have had people say that we’re too fast, and too loud, but that’s kind of the point.
Franks and Deans
8 pm Monday, May 21
Johnny B’s, 120 E. Sixth St., Medford