The Cleveland doom/post metal group Frayle are in the spotlight for this week’s Meet The Band. After EPs in 2018 and 2019, they just released their full-length debut 1692. Vocalist Gwyn Strang and guitarist Sean Bilovecky introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Frayle.
Gwyn Strang: When we met it seemed Sean hadn’t been inspired to write music in awhile. I got him Logic for Christmas in 2016 and it sparked something for him. He would hear me singing in the bath and asked me to sing on a cover of a li’l Peep song. Things progressed quickly, and The White Witch was born.
Describe the songwriting process for 1692.
Gwyn: Sean keeps a library of riffs that we go through and choose ones that we think are the strongest and carry the mood of what we are trying to say. I’ll sing a scratch track over the keepers, and then we’ll map out each song. From there, I’ll write lyrics and harmonies. We record alone. I don’t like anyone around when I’m singing.
Sean Bilovecky: We are fortunate to have our studio on the third floor of our house. My amps are always ready to record. A lot of the riffs on the record were recorded the very first time I wrote them. Writing and recording happen almost simultaneously sometimes.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Gwyn: I think my strongest memory is Sean wanting to change three of the songs a week before everything was due. It threw me into a panic since each song is like giving birth for me. Writing is a catharsis, but it’s also painful.
Sean: Gwyn and I also own an apparel development business together. One of my strongest memories for this record was listening to a rough mix while I was putting snaps on the legs of hundreds of pairs of leggings while Gwyn was sewing them.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Gwyn: We always try to go for a “lullaby over chaos” kind of sound. I don’t think that part has changed. I am doing more harmonies and vocal stacking. I want to try to make the vocals feel like they’re picking you up and cradling you while I whisper in your ear that I need help hiding the body.
Sean: I can’t really top what Gwyn just said.
How has it progressed from your debut EP?
Sean: From a production standpoint we tried to give the songs a lot more depth. The guitars are heavier and the vocals are more ethereal. We are really excited to have Jason Popson (Mushroomhead) sing on “Gods of No Faith”. His growl brings a whole new texture to our music. I think Gwyn has really outdone herself by coming up with so many hauntingly intelligent lyrics.
What lyrical subjects do you cover?
Gwyn: A lot of this album is about encouraging those who feel like outsiders to rise up and be counted. I wanted “Darker than Black” to be an anthem for the Unblessed.” We are all gods. Once everyone realizes that, just imagine what what we can do!
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Sean: Our hopes are that this album continues to expand our audience and ultimately open some doors for us. We are hoping this record will gain the interest of booking agents and help to get us on the road more.
What has been your most memorable Frayle live show?
Sean: We were very fortunate to be able to play Europe within a few months of becoming a band. The owner of our European label, Laybare Recordings, helped get us on two festivals in Europe. They were incredible. We hope to get back soon.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Sean: We are currently booking shows for this summer. So far we have a few things cooking but we have to wait to announce them. You know how that goes…
How did you get started in music?
Gwyn: I started playing piano around 6 or 7. Sean recently bought me a really nice keyboard. It’s inspired me to write some new sounds for the next album.
Sean: I played drums at first, then switched to guitar, and then to bass. I played bass for over a decade in my old band Disengage (Mans Ruin).
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Gwyn: My earliest influences were Bauhaus and Swans. I remember “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” coming on the college radio station and being totally transfixed! Swan’s “Children of God” LP became like a religion for me. I would lay there, light off, candles burning, and just transcend to another place.
Sean: I used to listen to a lot of punk and metal in high school. Then one of my friends introduced me to Quicksand. Shortly after that I found Kyuss and later Crowbar & Down. Those early influences still stick with me. I’m always drawn to stoner riffs with a more melodic, minor shadow looming over them.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Sean: I honestly can’t remember. I can remember going to see Karma to Burn when I was in high school. I remember seeing Clutch when I was younger. I was fortunate to play dozens of shows with each those bands years later.
Gwyn: Wow, I really can’t remember. I remember going to see Iron Maiden when I was in Toronto. I don’t think that was the first metal show, however. I have the worst memory.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Gwyn: King Woman, Beastwars, Emma Ruth Rundle, Nostalghia, True Widow, Monolord, Crowbar, & Windhand.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Sean: We’re really starting to get into making videos. We have a new video for “Godless” coming out soon that we are very proud of. We’re going to continue to make as many videos as we can for many of the songs on this record. We feel very fortunate to be working with our labels Laybare Recordings (Europe) and Aqualamb Records (North America). We’re very excited to see what the future brings!
(interview published February 15, 2020)