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Katie Frank and the Pheromones Record Release Show at Milkboy, 2/21

Local songstress Katie Frank and her band of rowdy Pheromones take over Milkboy this Friday night to celebrate their new album, Counting Your Curses. We were able to catch up with Katie and two members of the Pheromones, Josh Werblun and Jon McNally on the inner-workings behind their latest record. 

In just the short amount of time that has passed so far in 2014, the buzz behind, Counting Your Curses, the upcoming album from Katie Frank and the Pheromones, has quickly built to become one of the most anticipated new albums from within the Philadelphia music scene. The clever songwriting, soaked in a rustic Americana sound, has matured from their debut EP “Covered Bridge Road.”

On Friday, February 21st Katie Frank and the Pheromones will unveil to the world what they have been hard at work for much of the last year. WXPN, one of the leaders in Philadelphia radio, has taken a like to Katie Frank and company ever since getting a taste of “Covered Bridge Road.” Other local press outlets picked up on them as well and after a break out year in 2013, Katie Frank and the Pheromones have their sights set on making 2014 even better. This record release show is only the beginning.

Joining Katie Frank and the Pheromones for the evening will be two other stand out local acts, The Lawsuits and  Kevin Killen. Friday night will a look into the bright futures of the rootsy side of the Philadelphia music scene. Tickets for the show are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. They are still available online and can be purchased here.

Despite their busy schedule leading up to the release show, I was able to pull Katie Frank as well as two members of the Pheromones Josh Werlbun and Jon McNally, away from their rehearsal space to chat about the record. Within the band, Josh and Jon handle the drums and guitar, respectively. Josh has also assisted Katie with flushing out the songs into full band arrangements.

When and where was Counting Your Curses recorded?

JM: This past summer we went out to Kawari Sound just outside the city. It’s in an old carriage house so it had a really cool, homey vibe. We started from the ground up, six of us playing live in the room together. The place had a real relaxing atmosphere. Not like some studios that kind of feel like a doctor’s office. That really helped get everyone in the mood to make a record. We cut most of the whole record live in three days at Kawari.

JW: Yeah, we cut some more overdubs with Matt Muir at RetroCity Studios, but our friend Andrew Wilson who owns Cameltone Electronics has some really nice handmade pres and mics, so we built an iso booth in Katie’s living room out of sound soak dividers and recorded all of her lead vocals next to the fireplace. The whole record in a day, it was just about as relaxed as we could do it.

Will the album be pressed to vinyl?

KF: We’d love to! There aren’t immediate plans, but it’s definitely on the list of things we’d like to do with it.

Take me through the typical process of writing a song. How does it begin and how does it end?

KF: Well I usually come up with a progression or some sort of a riff I think is catchy. So, the music comes first. I don’t really try to write a song about anything in particular. What comes out just kind of comes out. Then I take it to the band they put their two cents in; sometimes songs get rearranged, or they get new intros or endings.

JW: Katie usually plays me the songs at her place when she’s writing them, so I kind of just try to listen to them and form an idea in my head, I’ll add ideas here and there but mostly just structurally. We take it into rehearsals and everyone learns it how she has it, then we kind of trial and error it until we get it right. I usually come in with a pretty well-formed idea of how to arrange it, and we work that out, with everyone kind of adding to the recipe as we go. It usually happens pretty organically though.

Your last release, “Covered Bridge Road,” featured notable guests including Tom Hampton and Jim Boggia. Will there be any guests on Counting Your Curses?

KF: Yes, Jim’s back! We recorded all the backing vocals with him again, him and the brothers Orlando. Also, Ben Arnold played some piano for us, which was pretty cool. Tom also came back and played some steel guitars. Also, a new friend we made backstage at this past year’s Philadelphia Folk Fest, John Lilley from The Hooters played the solo on “Tunnel Vision.” So that was pretty cool. Some of our parents freaked out about that one.

Who were some of your biggest influences while writing Counting Your Curses?

KF: Well, I had a breakup while writing it, so a lot the songs were influenced by that; at the same time we were kind of finding our sound as a band, so I started writing the songs to play more off of how I’d want the guys in my band to do it. As for musical influences, Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes is a big one. Lyrically, he just has that natural ability to make words flow. A lot of classic rock stuff, that’s kind of what I modeled the sound after. CCR, Fleetwood Mac, you know.

For Katie Frank and the Pheromones, what are the benefits of being in a city with such a budding and growing music scene?

JW: With such a diverse and generally talented community, there are a lot more eyes on the local scene here than in other cities I’ve been to. It helps avoid the shit gigs, you know? Like it’s nice knowing you’re probably going to be playing with other good bands on your shows. More people pay attention that way.

KF: Philly is a really incestuous kind of city, musically. Everyone here seems to know everyone through someone, or they played on your friend’s record and you didn’t even know it. There’s also a strong connection to the past here. And a lot of the more seasoned musicians, they’re still willing to lend a hand in helping out with the younger people in the scene. There’s still a real passion there that helps bridge the generation gap.

What’s the most prized piece from your record collection?

JM: Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage. I’m a big fan of his. His drummers were always very influential to me.

KF: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. That or Hanson’s Middle of Nowhere.

JW: I have a copy of The Stray Cat’s Built for Speed I’m pretty proud of. And I have a copy of The Beatles’ Revolver I treat like a new-born.

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