It was a total mistake. About ten years ago, I sent someone to grab some CDs for me. I was getting into psychobilly music so I gave my friend a list of bands to get. On that list was the band the Frantic Flintstones. Later the guy hands me a bag full of music in a manner that looked like a drug deal went down. As I was going through everything. I was so sad to realize that in the collection was not Frantic Flintstones but a CD by a band called the Frantic Flattops. Well I was bummed but I still gave it a shot. I ended playing the hell out of the album. I loved it. Everyone knows how much I love their music. Mentioned them one of my earliest entries, My fantasy weekender band list. I can honestly say I’m not sure I would’ve been into the rockabilly world if it wasn’t for these guys. With that said, a few days ago I was looking at that entry and wondered about the members of the Frantic Flattops. So I used my skills (10 seconds on Google) and looked up their lead vocalist and guitarist Frank De Blase. Sent him an email. And he was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer a few questions for a fan like me. The following are the results.
Rockabilly Nerd: Thank you very much for agreeing to answer some questions. Could you give me a short history (or long) of the Frantic Flattops. What years were you active?
Frank De Blase: I founded The Frantic Flattops in 1986-87 in Rochester New York. At the time there was no local rockabilly scene whatsoever, plenty of garage, punk and blues, so we shoe-horned our way in and built up a following. We started touring in 1989 (thanks to rockabilly wildman, Joe Clay, who introduced us to a promoter in Washington DC ) in an old station wagon. We hit cities like Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Chicago, Richmond, Charlotte, and Atlanta. We also hit Canadian cities like Toronto, London, and Kitchener. Our fan base continued to grow and we started running into other rockabilly bands. We started inviting them to play with us in Rochester and a scene began. We Toured Europe twice and played as The Blonde Bomber Ronnie Dawson’s backing band from 1992-1994. We disbanded in 2003 and I briefly played slide guitar in a lo-fi blues band called The White Devils.
RN: What was your favorite memory or best moment of your time with the band?
FDB: We lasted almost 20 years on the road. I made a lot of great friends, danced with their girlfriends, raised hell, broke hearts and played some fantastic shows. I mean, I made my living with a guitar, what more can I say?
RN: Hi Fi Honey had an impact on my life personally. Anything you can say about the recording of that album?
FDB: Looking back, HI FI HONEY was an amazing recording. I don’t know how we pulled it off with such a crude set up. We recorded it live with just two mics in the room. Mono. No overdubs or studio stunts. As we became more involved in the rockabilly scene worldwide it was apparent that a lot of bands were concerned with being traditional or period correct. We weren’t. We played a little too fast and loud for that — we were the Frantic Flattops for Christ sake! And HI FI HONEY proved that. I still love that record.
RN: What have you been up to nowadays
FDB: I have parkinson’s disease so unfortunately I can’t play the guitar anymore. I do perform in a beatnik jazz ensemble called Busted Valentines though. I host a weekly radio show featuring local bands, write as a music critic for CITY NEWSPAPER, and I’m a published crime fiction author. My newest novel, A COUGAR’S KISS came out last week on DOWN & OUT BOOKS and is available at amazon and Barnes and Nobel. Pick up a copy…
Rockabilly Nerd took the liberty to add a link to the new novel HERE!
RN: With shows bringing back Raging Teens and High Noon from that era, is there a chance of The Frantic Flattops doing a reunion show? Or has anything happened like that that I’m unaware of?
FDB: I run into a lot of bands who listened to the Flattops when they were coming up. They’re the next generation and it thrills me to here we were an influence. I get asked to sit in and sing often…but as far as a reunion, I don’t think so it wouldn’t be the same without me playing the guitar. It was a cool moment in history that I love to reflect upon but I think digging it up would undo all the cool, we did.
RN: Is there anything you would like to say the people reading this?
FDB: Thanks for remembering us after all thee years…
No, thank you! I’m definitely wanting to check out his book. Maybe do a Reading with Rockabilly post here or something along those lines.
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Come back next time where I’ll attempt to hold a seance to contact the spirit of the Big Bopper for a future Q&A.