“(The year) 2014 is where things will significantly kick up,” says Frankie Gump, frontman of the Christian hard rock band, Guy Franklin. The band released its second record, “Awakening,” on Aug. 27. Now it’s stocking its merch table, and rehearsing to hit the road and promote the new album.
“Awakening” was recorded last year at Timeline Studios in Fort Myers, Fla. Tyler Kluesner co-wrote the songs with Gump and Scott Bush produced the music. When Gump finished the record, he knew just who to call to put together a backing band: Kevin Kyle.
“My excitement with Kevin was his resumé,” says Gump. Kyle is a music industry veteran. His obsession with the guitar started when he saw Jimi Hendrix on the TV as a kid.
Kyle, originally from Detroit, moved to Los Angeles with the group Madam X during the hair metal era. He worked with a number of big names, most notably playing several shows with Ozzy Osbourne.
As many rockers do, Kyle fell into a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol. “I started losing work,” says Kyle. “I fled L.A. in 95.” He stayed with his brother in Kalamazoo, Mich. Eventually he moved to Warsaw, working at a trailer factory, and still getting into trouble.
During one of his stints in lock-up Kyle met Kosciusko County Jail Chaplain, John Boren. Boren showed Kyle “a better way.” When Kyle got out of jail, he started attending New Life Christian Church. He was playing in the praise and worship band at the church when Gump met up with him.
Gump first approached Kyle about playing guitar for him after releasing his first album, “Arise,” in 2009, but Kyle was keeping busy with other projects at the time. “I worked on Kevin for two or three years,” says Gump. Finally their schedules aligned as Gump was finishing up “Awakening.”
Gump put Kyle in charge of assembling the rest of the band. Serendipitously, Kyle was working with a seasoned rhythm section when Gump started recruiting.
On bass is Mario Young. “Mario has quite a résumé too,” says Gump. “He’s opened for a lot of national acts,” adds Kyle. Young’s biggest influence is Duff McKagan from Guns n’ Roses. “I still try to imitate what he did on Appetite [for Destruction],” says Young.
Sitting behind an enormous 11-piece drum kit is Brandon Bussard. Bussard is a second-generation drummer. “He came up under his father’s tutelage,” says Kyle. Bussard played in marching band in high school and won several state competitions.
Bussard was focusing on automotive work at the family business, Bussard Automotive & Performance Specialties, when he met Kyle. Bussard actually called Kyle for guitar lessons. It didn’t take long for the guitarist to figure out how good Bussard was at drums. After that, Kyle promised to call him if he ever needed a drummer.
The current Guy Franklin line-up has only been playing together since March. “This has all come together very quickly,” says Kyle. “We went from rehearsing in a garage to playing an amphitheater in two weeks.”
The group filmed a music video in Oklahoma City (home of the group’s record label, Tate Music Group) after only one practice. The video for “Awakening” earned the group second place in the Kosciusko’s Got Talent competition earlier this summer. Only 15 votes separated Guy Franklin from winners, Plaxton & The Void.
Guy Franklin’s sound appeals to both Christian and secular listeners. “We’re a hard rock/metal band,” says Gump. “With our music, it’s a positive message. Drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll – that’s not what you get from us. We’re not bible-thumping people either. That’s not our mission.”
Gump says there’s enough negativity in popular music. His band simply aims to entertain its audience with heavy music and wholesome lyrics – not to mention a mesmerizing live show.
“The shows are theatrical,” says Gump. “We might have actors. There are scenes being acted out.” The band also uses sound tracks of strings and synths to beef up the live sound. Gump says they might also add other musicians, like a keyboardist, when they hit the road.
On Aug. 16 Guy Franklin played an album release show at Heritage Park Amphitheater in Wheeling, W.V., (where Gump lives, he commutes to Warsaw for rehearsals). The concert was held in conjunction with the Debbie Green 5K, which raises money to help families struggling with leukemia.
“The Aug. 16 weekend went great,” says Gump. “The weather was perfect for an outside venue. We were in radio interviews and the local press. The weekend produced over 5,000 runners, spectators and key sponsors.”
It seems Guy Franklin is off to a great start. “As long as we keep our motives pure and stay humble, the sky’s the limit,” says Gump. “Everything points to a really good 2014.”