I knew I liked Frank McGinnis when I heard the first lines of this track for the first time: “Can I face what I am? A 29-year-old man, sitting all alone in a McDonald’s?”
Baldly honest, self-deprecating, and deeply relatable, Frank’s music (now made under the moniker American Film History) brings you to the dark corners of rooms in which we all sometimes sit.
In his less mature days, Frank made waves with the band Frankie and His Fingers; he is basically a doctor of ennui and heartache now. I’m VERY fond of music that calls back to sensory memories–smells, places, etc.–and AFH is doing that with the gentle push of an expert hand. I am so happy to premiere a new single from his new record, Be Content With Your Light, Child, out April 6 on SubFamily Records. I also interviewed him briefly about the whole deal:
DWP: What are some of the themes we will see on this record? Did you sit down to make it knowing the subject matter or did it evolve naturally as you went?
Frank: A lot of references to the myth of Apollo and Daphne. Not only the cover, but the album title is a quote from various forms of the myth. Apollo says it to Eros while mocking his use of war weapons for matters of the heart.
This record is very much about trying to find your place in the world as a part of it, not the star of it. I suppose you can call them “existential crises” or late 20s/early 30s troubles. It’s ironic in a sense though, because it’s the first record of mine that does not have traditional love songs or songs about romantic relationships. I suppose part of growing up is accepting with gratitude that there are bigger things than you and your one-to-one partnerships.
I did sit down to make it knowing the subject matter. I am very much a vision-oriented creator. I knew some concepts, themes, and even the title before I wrote the songs. I even know the title and concept for my next record.
DWP: How does this new record compare to proto-neon (released in 2017)?
Frank: I would say it is a departure in production, mostly. Proto-neon was a very hermetic bedroom pop EP. It was made to sound homespun, with an atmosphere of fog and fuzz dulling the twinkle. “Be content…” is a studio album in every sense. It was done in a beautiful recording studio in Clermont, N.Y., called Kirton Farm Studios with a producer named Jeremy Backofen (The Felice Brothers, Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad). He and I have always had a spark together and making this record was a really special experience. The end result is more fleshed-out, as they say. It’s more fully realized and grandiose than the last EP.
DWP: What’s your favorite part of music-making? What’s the hardest part?
So many favorite parts that are also hard parts. The living of and reliving of life events, people, loss, growth; that’s all the hardest part and the greatest part and the most crucial part of making music. To get more direct with the creation of the songs themselves, it’s tough to pick a favorite. I love to journey into the adventure of writing lyrics. I spend so much time on them and only know they’re good when they feel a certain way. I also adore arranging for instruments. This album is an odd one in the sense that I played about 90 percent of it myself. I bask in the experimentation and firestarting of feeling out grooves, bass parts, guitar textures, overdubs, tinker toys, you name it. Another terribly hard part of making music: being willing to let it go and say it’s done.