If he’s not at the helm of the rhythm section for the Fun Lovin’ Criminals or bombin around the streets of Leicester, Frank Benbini along with Na’im Cortazzi are pimpin things about as English duo Uncle Frank. Thier latest release, Smiles For Miles is a lush soundscape eminating from many different sources, all coalescing in a lovely blend of funk, rock, soul, rhythm & blues, pop, hip hop and maybe even disco. Right, so the Disco thing I’m “slightly exaggerating” on, but I believe in both Mr. Benbini & Mr. Cortazzi. And I believe (and hope) one day they will indulge me on this (fantasy).
The album is good. Like nickel-plated-.38-in-a-Lincoln-Continental-good. I made the reference before so please understand that it’s that fuckin’ good.
Anyway, movin on… I got a chance to preview tracks off the new record “Love Lion” (out soon) and it’s continuing on with just straight up lush music. Midway through dates in NYC and PA (dont miss it!), Frank was gracious enough to take a moment and answer some questions for us here at Fr.U.N.T.
augustblackwell – How are the NYC shows been going so far?
FRANK – First show was crazy good, everyone got us, got the vibe, we had friends turn up, great vibe..
augustblackwell – Whenever you’re back in NYC, besides visiting friends and throwing down juicy sets, what is one place that you’ll never fail to make a stop at?
FRANK – It’s the food stops I gotta say I have so many- and I always have to go to BK, oh and my fav massage in China Town.
augustblackwell – You recently posted about being able to bring out your partner-in-crime Na’im out to Tim Latham’s studio, can you give us a snapshot of how the day went?
FRANK – He loved it, great food, great company, and the worlds best mixer… Naim is funny- he always does the same thing when he is lovin’ what the Frank is cooking, he says, “Frank’ I luv ya bro..”
augustblackwell – Speaking of which, Tim Latham is one of a few revered operators who is also a legend in his own right. I’ve always wanted to know… what it’s like to work with someone as well experienced as he is?
FRANK – Tim and me started working together 16 years ago in NYC and just hit it off straight away. The thing about Tim is he understands- yes he has million dollar ears, but he understands the music first and he knows there is no right or wrong and then he adds his experience to that, and it’s funny because you find you don’t discuss that much as you work thru a mix- it’s like he knows what I’m gunna say before I say it, it really is like some Jedi shit…
augustblackwell – Has there been a record you’ve acquired recently that you just instantly fell in love with?
FRANK – Yes Charles Bradley- NoTime For Dreaming album. He is from Brooklyn, NY- so good, loved it from the first bar of the first song. Go check it out…
augustblackwell – How was the approach like when Uncle Frank went into the recording of the “Love Lion” sessions?
FRANK – At the start I was keeping it light. Me and Nai’ would breezein doin’ little bits working on two songs at a time, havin fun doin’ whatever felt good.’ That was kind of end of last summer, then as winter came, I locked myself in the studio pretty much from November – February and zoned into finishing it- a lot of personal life things I needed to get out of me lyrically thru the music so I hit it hard which was tuff but it was needed…
augustblackwell – It feels like the way you approached the vocals on most of these songs, notably “North Shore”, a full album remix might not necessarily be too far fetched. Any thoughts?
FRANK – Yeah we love re-working remixes and getting a different slice of the same pie.We have done a few remixes already and will be doin’ a few more, so yes that will happen…
augustblackwell – What’s next after this for Uncle Frank?
FRANK – We have a lot of work to do – videos to shoot, press, shows, promo – then before too long we will hit the studio again, and then start again, but we need to play this record and tour it proper…