Today, we are speaking with Frank Babic from the Mississauga project High Park Society. Can you give us a little background information about yourself? How did you get into music?
High Park Society is my music project that was driven by a love of classic rock and alt-80s. It was started as a side project around 2015 out of another outfit I perform with in Toronto (Poor Man’s High) with songs for that band that came together to be the first releases by High Park Society.
I’ve been a musician all of my life, starting early at age 8 with taking organ lessons. I began teaching music (organ, piano and guitar) in my teens. I’d joined a soul/R&B cover band (Soulhammer) in the 90s while attending university for engineering (where my day job is an acoustic engineer). I then focused on writing and home recording during the early 2000s for my personal benefit and pleasure. Around 2010 I started picking up live music performance again with a Toronto outfit (The Better Lates), and now with my band Poor Man’s High. High Park Society came about as a project that I can produce and record at home, with a signature style all my own, with contributions from musicians from all over the world.
You have been at work on your music for a number of years. What sort of work have you put into the recording and creative processes for this release?
On Your Mind started as a demo on a rented four-track in early 2000s, which sat dormant until now. I’d finished my other singles “Indecision” and “When Bowie Died”, and resurrected it and redid the demo. I really liked how it came together with the new demo, and started polishing it. I brought on Emily Dolan Davies (UK session drummer with Howard Jones and Thompon Twins), and a trumpet player DJMAGIC85 out of Baltimore through Airgigs.com. Lastly, I brought the mix to my engineer/producer Andre Mina, who does all of my music, to polish the song as you hear it now.
What does your recording set up look like (what do you use to record, what are your favorite tools)?
To start the demo process, I use Steinberg’s Sequel 3 program. It’s like Garage Band, and allows me to easily capture snippets of music, and put things down quickly. Then, I can setup sections and start building the song structure.
When I’m looking to polish the song, I re-record in Steinberg’s Cubase (currently using version 5). I don’t do a lot of mixing/production myself, as I leave that to Andre to do for me. I work to really hone down my takes and balance the mix, but leave it to Andre to put the final touches on it.
For equipment, I use a MXL 9000 microphone for all vocals, and I do all the lead and background vocals myself. I also use a blue Gretch Electromatic (2016) or my black/white Mexican Strat (92) guitars with a Boss GT-8 multi-effects unit. I use a few programs for keyboards, but it’s mainly HALion. This is all fed through a Seinberg UR44 interface to a laptop.
All recording is done at home, late night after everyone is asleep. Ironically, I have not done any significant acoustic treatment for the space, but have the room open up to a large rec room which give vocals some nice reverberation without any significant standing wave issues.
Tell us a bit more about your latest single On Your Mind. I understand you’ve just released a promo video for the track.
On Your Mind is a song about trying to understand those that you love, even when difficult decisions have to be made. I reworked some of the original lyrics, leaning away from a “does she like me or not?” theme to a more mature “you are not the person I knew, and what should I do about it”.
I found the director through Fiverr, and a great young filmmaker in Haily MacIsaach. She’s a student in Toronto at OCAD, and put this together for me, including developing the story imagery and the theme of the letter floating down the river. You can see this video on our High Park Society YouTube channel.
Which artists are the greatest influences for you and your music? Is there a dream lineup of performers that you would like to perform with if given the chance?
Artists that were the greatest influences on me are by far The Smiths and The Cure, as well as The Beatles, U2 and the Velvet Underground. I think you can hear this in my music, especially in the song On Your Mind.
For my dream lineup, I’d love to play with Morrissey, Robert Smith and Bono. As a guitarist, I’d love to have Johnny Marr, The Edge (and Mick Ronson if he were with us) in the lineup as well. For bass and drums, it would have to be a combination with Andy Rourke and Larry Mullen Jr. If they were still with us, I’d polish it off with David Bowie and Lou Reed.
Which sort of social media website have you had the best successes with? What about these online services are different from the traditional face to face meeting and performances that musicians utilize?
I’m most successful with Facebook, as it is the best way to find those fans that are interested in music similar to High Park Society, and we are growing our fanbase there. On Facebook, I’m able to connect with fans on the music, with interest pieces behind the music we are making, and musical anecdotes of common interests in our posts. I see this as an effective communication method for our fanbase.
We are also on Reverbnation, which has allowed us to reach out to other indie artists. This has really great to hear other artists, and I listen to it regularly to hear about music you don’t get on regular channels like radio or Spotify playlists. Also, artists find us and become fans, which is really exciting.
As a DIY musician, I’m focusing on a social media approach to find and connect with fans. I’m finding High Park Society music has a worldwide appeal, as to any specific local scene when face to face performances may be more appropriate.
What should listeners expect from your music in the future? How can interested NeuFutur readers locate samples of your music? How has the radio/Pandora/Spotify response been for your music?
We are finalizing our singles from this first set of work, again focusing on an alt-80s/classic rock sound with bass/drums/guitar/keys and trumpet. I’ll be going into a writing phase in early 2018, and looking to explore some new song ideas, including forms and instrumentation, and continuing to expand lyrical themes.
NeuFutur readers can sign up on our mailing list at www.highparksociety.com to keep up with our newest music. They can also follow us on Facebook, where we are keeping in constant touch with our fans (www.facebook.com/highparksociety).
You can find our catalog on Spotify, and we expect to focus on this in 2018 to grow and find new fans there. I’m in Canada so I don’t have access to Pandora, but I understand we are on there. I haven’t plugged much radio, but I’m looking to do so more with future releases.
What does the rest of 2017 (and early 2018) hold for your music?
High Park Society has put together a Christmas release titled “Home For Christmas” for 2017, which is a low-key take on the holiday season, trying to identify with those people that don’t really want to be part of the festivities.
There is also a new video being completed for When Bowie Died, set to release in January 2018 to commemorate the anniversary of Bowie’s passing.
Expect a new single and possible EP compilation for 2018.
Thank you so much for your time. Finally, do you have any additional thoughts about life and the universe for our readers?
Thanks so much for the interview. I appreciate taking the time to listen to me, and talk about High Park Society. I think it’s a great time for music – both in the listening and creating – and I think we can see great things in the future that bring artists and fans closer together than ever before.