Usually when I spend quality time with my fellow musical friend Craig, entertainment ensues, us being the people that provide it. The night never ends the way we want. When pals like us partake in our passions, unpredictable is a pale understatement. We have raged to Rob Zombie, taken road trips to rock shows, been kicked out of continuous concerts, been backstage with The Donnas and American Bang, and he has even bailed me out of jail like the bud that he is. I can add yet another accomplishment to our lovely list: a couple years ago he introduced me to Kelly Franks.
What I remember about Kelly from two years ago was that she was cool and comfortable to be around. Being at the same show I already assumed that she had terrific musical taste. I didn’t know that she was a drummer. Now, she’s banging out beats in the band The Aquanettes.
The Aquanettes are Amber Von Doom – guitar/lead vocals and lyrics, Hell Cat Kelly – drums, and Tania Slaughter on bass and vocals. They are a surf rock band from Ferndale, Michigan who found each other from failed attempts at other bands. They came up with their name one night on cocktail napkins and have been booking ever since their beginnings at that bar. Self-described as “an eclectic mix of Surf, Punk, Stoner Rock and Rockabilly combined into a new and rockin’ sound that will be pleasing to your ears AND eyes,” The Aquanettes have the look, but they’re also legit and making good music in the Motor City.
Sara Fincham: I met you at a show – who are your musical influences in general and also as a drummer?
Kelly Franks: Personally I find it hard to narrow down my most influential artists and bands, but I think for our style of music we have a versatile sound mostly influenced by the twangy, watery sounds of Dick Dale, mixed with the heavier sounds of Sabbath, The Cramps, and even a little bit of The Ramones. For myself, I aim to have the fast tempos of The Ramones and of course to be as skilled a drummer as Niel Pert of Rush… That’s gonna take a while!
SF: At what age did you take an interest in music and how did you make your way to a drum set? Were there rendezvous with other instruments before you realized what you really wanted to play?
KF: Before I started into playing drums, I played the trombone through grade school. That thing was bigger than me, and I couldn’t reach those long notes, so I gave it up. I tinkered around on a beautiful 1970’s jazz bass through high school and became quite good until I pawned it off for cash to move to Florida when I was 17. It wasn’t until about 10 years later that I obtained my 1st drum kit as a birthday gift. I sat down and taught myself how to play. I knew that if I had ever had the opportunity to sit down on a kit, that it would come easy. Being a left hitter, I’ve been told I have some unique beats. I just bought a bass about a week ago, and intend on broadening my own musical skills, but the drums will always be my 1st love.
SF: How many bands have you been in and what makes The Aquanettes different? What makes you cohesive?
KF: The Aquanettes is the first real project I’ve been in whereas my band-mates have been in several other projects over the years. I think that all of our songs have a unique quality that can’t be defined. We’ve been told we sound like all genres of music, and so that makes it easy to relate to and be compared to a plethora of bands and influences. That makes it easy for us to play with different bands with different styles.
SF: How did you find the fortune of meeting Craig? I hope you have had some awesome adventures!?
KF: Craiggy! What a character! I met Craig through my late friend Kimmie whom we were mutual friends with. It was official when we made plans to head up to Traverse City to stay at Kimmie’s timeshare on Traverse Bay about 5-6 years ago. I had never hung out with Craig, but I was deemed the one to pick him up from work and we were going to drive up together. We had four hours of driving to get to know each other and we’ve been pretty much BFFs ever since! I love Craig! He’s a thoughtful, kind, funny and genuine friend.
SF: What kind of response have you seen at your shows so far? Have you found any dedicated fans?
KF: We have had a pretty good start so far. People seem to be drawn to the stage once we hit the set. We’ve been fortunate to play with some great local bands to help us get a decent start. I have noticed a few repeat faces at some of our shows. What a great feeling to have been such an impact on those few folks so far.
SF: How is Michigan for making music?
KF: Being that we are just getting started, it’s hard to say, especially since I personally have never been in any other projects to compare. But I will say that the level of response in just the short time we’ve been out, gives me some hope.
SF: What’s your favorite concert you’ve ever attended and what’s your favorite song to perform live? When’s your next show for those who want to see you?
KF: The best concert I ever went to was Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Jr. It was a sold out show at The Palace of Auburn Hills. I was with a handful of my closest friends and we had 4th row center stage, and the feel and give you get from a Detroit crowd is unbelievable. I’ve seen a lot of shows, but that one in particular really stands out.
I think my favorite song that The Aquanettes play is “Country Fried.” It’s one of our heavier, hard-hitting stoner rock songs. It’s a fun song, and sounds good. It seems to get the crowd going. Our next show is going to be at Smalls in Hamtramck on October 21st. It’s going to be a Halloween show. Hopefully well have our new song “Speed Trap” put together for the unveiling by then!