Guns’n’Roses image credit Katarina Benzova
Around The Sound’s Sheldon Ang talks to Guns N’ Roses drummer Frank Ferrer about his band PSSR, an illustrious career and all things rock, NYC style.
When we drift into the mayhem of Guns N’ Roses, we dwell upon the fiery breathing imageries of iconic musicians from one the hottest bands in music history.
Through the likes of Axl and Slash they have unleashed several sonic storms across the globe. From wild on-stage antics to debauched hotel room shenanigans their notoriety has been undeniably catastrophic…and equally legendary.
Then in 2006 came the latest sonic captain of the “Gunners”, drummer Frank “Thunderchucker” Ferrer, the gentleman of rock, as Sheldon Ang discovers during their in-depth conversation about his ‘other’ band PSSR (pronounced “Piss-er”).
If Around the Sound were to humanise their latest tracks; Last Time, Busted and Push, they’d be the love child of Steven Tyler and James Brown. The funky, bluesy, and whisky whiffs, drenched in a grimy, wet and wintery solace imbue into these tracks – partly thanks to the “funky white boy” in lead vocalist Eric J as Ferrer describes.
The drummer is one of the most respected and respectful musicians, utterly humble and generous, defending himself as a “regular bloke” in New York City, even riding on the train from Perth to Freo on three occasions to pay his respect at the resting ground of his favorite rock star, Bon Scott.
Sheldon: How are you doing brother…just letting you know this video call will be recorded.
Frank: I’m good…that’s cool…where are you calling from?
Sheldon: I’m calling from Perth, Western Australia
Frank: From Perth? (Sheldon: Yes). I love Perth. I love Freo.
Sheldon: I’m actually like ten minutes away from Fremantle
Frank: Oh wow, that’s great!
Sheldon: You were here in 2006, were you not?
Frank: Oh yes, the first time I was there was in 2007. And then we went there again 2010 or 11, and the last time was in 2017 (all with Guns N’ Roses).
Sheldon: I’m pretty sure I saw you at the Chinese Democracy World Tour in 2007
Frank: 2007 – we were with Rose Tattoo, weren’t we?
Sheldon: Correct, wow! And with Sebastian Bach…
Frank: And Korn in 2011 and ZZ Top in 2017….
Sheldon: Yeah that’s it…so are you in Los Angeles or New York?
Frank: I’m in California, near Palm Springs
PSSR: It is pronounced as Pisser… P-I-S-S-E-R…
Sheldon: Cool. First of all, how do you pronounce your band?
Frank: It is pronounced as Pisser… P-I-S-S-E-R…we called it PSSR because we figure out that it is easy to get on t-shirts…like those from K-Mart or Target.
Sheldon: (Chuckles) It does feel a bit like a Rockstar Supernova – with you on drums…
Frank: We are all a session musician…are you implying we are an all-star rock band?
Frank: In a sense…to be honest, Sheldon, I’ve never thought of it that way. We formed together because everyone is a working musician. So when everybody gets together, we play.
Eric the singer had all these songs. Richard (Fortus) from Guns and Roses were in a band with Eric called Honky Toast in the late 90’s…and we did a record for Sony. So, Eric pulled PSSR out of the ashes from Honky Toast.
Richard and I would go somewhere else and whenever Richard came back we go and play with PSSR. The lineup on the record is consistent as in what we got in 2015…with touring musicians…but PSSR has been around for ten to fifteen years. But I never looked at it the way you’ve described.
Sheldon: Yeh no worries, I think is because of you in it.
(Editors note: Frank Ferrer puts his pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else).
Frank: (Chuckles) – In New York, I’m just a regular bloke man, and Guns N’ Roses doesn’t go that far in New York (chuckles).
Sheldon: (Chuckles)…With the three singles I heard so far, Push, Busted and Last time…. to me, they have these rock, bluesy feel…so if I were to humanise these tracks, they feel like the love child of Steve Tyler and James Brown.
Frank: Wow dude…you have a unique perspective…James Brown, I can definitely see it like an Eric kinda banter wow…well dude thank you very much Sheldon for reading and paying attention and listening…and that’s very interesting. With James Brown I can definitely see that in Eric, as he is a funky white boy. But what drew me to Eric before I joined the Honky Toast is I like the Bon Scott, ZZ Top happening, I mean Bon Scott is my favourite Rockstar and you live so close to him…and Steven Tyler for sure. And ACDC… and I love your unique perspective on this Sheldon. Pretty hot.
Sheldon: Is that the first time you heard of such analogy?
Frank: Yeah, James Brown for sure I mean we do have the funky, grimy Rolling Stones funky tune.
Shedon: The Last Time – the latest single reminds me of what Dr Fauci would say, “USA is free to party again”.
Frank: Ah nah, that song was written pre-Covid. The theme is like growing up in New York City and being that city guy where you have to fight the mini battle just to get through the day and just remembering the last time you had a good time. There will be another one coming up…and it was written in pre-Covid. I understand that this is the time that people think, when was the last time I had a good time. But it is statement of hope in the future.
Sheldon: And when was last time you had fun, sir?
Frank: Well I don’t want to bring this thing down, but I have to be honest with you; I’m really grateful that I am safe, sound and healthy and my best friend is staying with me here so I’m not having a bad time. I am in lockdown, and I wear my mask and I wash my hands and am social distancing, and I’m just happy to be here right now.
Sheldon: Nadia was saying that this song could be in a bourbon ad
Frank: Yeah! That would be great. That’d be awesome if they want to do it! That song is great because it has the element of a bar or at a pub…and people having a good time with beer, and raising glass…and yes that kind of feel.
Sheldon: Will there be a video to accompany this song?
Frank: Well yeah, that was the plan, but it will be difficult…then again we are patient with this, and Golden Robot are very patient with this and the goal is to be a regular working band.
Sheldon: And Busted was recorded last year?
Frank: All the songs were recorded at the same time. We did this on our own and we had it in the can for several years. And the CEO of Golden Robot loved it and Busted is another sleazy New York City style…all the songs have the same theme…trying to walk along the avenue on the low east side in the middle of January in the cold and wet, trying to get onto a spot. That’s what PSSR songs are about; Push has also the same thing. If you like grimy rock n’ roll – it is definitely PSSR.
Sheldon: You mention about the grimy, New York feel – what defines a typical New York style of sound?
Frank: I mean, New York is so diverse. I don’t think there is a “typical” New York City band, but it definitely moved towards more of the Degeneration, The Dictators, New York Dolls and more of that space – so I won’t call it a “typical New York sound”; I would say is unique to New York…the sound of PSSR.
Sheldon: That brings us to Busted, and it is about the self-awareness of not getting into trouble?
Frank: (Chuckles). Again another great perspective by Mr Sheldon. I think Busted is about what the title is about – getting busted; be in about your girl, with the law, with a job. Again, everything has a positive hue to it. It is not about darkness and is not about cry babies. I think we are out there to have a good time and everything is about positive with PSSR.
Sheldon: And you being a rock star – are those part of your personal experiences (chuckles).
Frank: (Chuckles) “Rockstar” – you are awesome. Again, at the start of a conversation I’m just a regular bloke in New York City. All the songs come from Eric – he’s the main inspiration behind all the songs, they are his personal perspective of life, his own ideas and stuff. He’s gone through living in New York city. And it gets filter through us and we make it into a song – you’re pretty much hearing the myriad of Eric’s life experience
Sheldon: I see there are three of you, and you coming from Guns N Roses does that default you the leader of the band?
Frank: I know if we have to say who is a captain of the band, we have to say it would be Rob Bailey(guitarist/producer) the bass player. He’s probably the best musician in the band; he is super smart and he takes care of all the logistics. Obviously if these were regular times, I would be on tour with Guns N’ Roses. And Brett Bass (bass) would be playing with different kind of artists.
Sheldon: So would we be expecting more singles coming up from PSSR?
Frank: I believe the last one would be the last time until the record comes out in December. I believe December 9th is the date.
Sheldon: Hey that’s Nadia’s birthday. I will remember that!
Frank: There you go! That’s lovely.
Sheldon: So what can expect for the rest of the album – there’d be like 10 tracks altogether?
Frank: Absolutely, Yes! Ten tracks all together, and if you dig Motorhead, The Dictators Iggy Pop, AC/DC…
Sheldon: Speaking of AC/DC, in March this year we closed the entire Canning Highway, 6 miles or 10 km from Canning Bridge to Fremantle – just as a tribute to Bon Scott’s 40th death anniversary!
Frank: Oh wow is it on YouTube? I had no idea. Every time I go to Perth I’ve visited Bon Scott.
Sheldon: I live like 15 minutes…anyhow…you mentioned Guns N’ Roses a few times in this interview, and I’m very aware this interview is not about Guns N’ Roses, but can I ask a few general questions about them?
Frank: Well you could, but I don’t know if I could answer it!
Sheldon: I promise all generic stuff and nothing personal…so how is it like to be in one of the world’s biggest rock bands?
Frank: It has been a blessing. You know…it is exactly what you’d imagined it is – it is. I mean I get to play in an iconic band with iconic musicians where one of them is good friend of mine and all them have becomes friends. Really closed to Axl, Richard, Melissa, Duff and what I can is, it is the greatest shit that I’ve ever been involved with…is the greatest…the greatest… what can I say I can’t put into words, other than I love what I’m doing. I love my job, I hope I get to do this forever…
Sheldon: You don’t have to answer this, but Axl seems to have this bravado, but something tells me he’s a very down to earth person.
Frank: We text all of the time. He has treated me like a band member since day 1 in 2006. My respect and love for that man regardless of what everyone else sees or think of him… I’m his army, soldier; I have his back, whatever, whenever.
Sheldon: And it is so good to talk to you because it feels like I’m talking to an old friend; you’re so humble despite you are a member of one of the greatest rock bands on the planet…and talking to you it just shows me that one can be up there and still remain humble – this chat has been a great experience for me.
Frank: Thank you, Sheldon. That’s nice, that’s nice – that’s a perfect example you know, because we could never get too high up. Life is tough and something like this pandemic right now it puts everything into perspective. I keep it nice in my whole life, even keel in my whole life, my professional life and personal life. I never get too down and I never get too high up. And I love people, and I love talking to people and that’s the big part of who I am and that’s the reason why I’m in Guns N Roses and that’s why I’m playing with PSSR…we all get along.
Sheldon: And I recently had a chat with Phil X from Bon Jovi (Frank: Yeah Phil’s great!) and Garry Beers from INXS, and like you, they are from huge arena bands, yet they still play in their small bands with a club size audience…which to me resonates their humility – it must be about the labour of love
Frank: Yeah I know Phil, and we are players, you can be in front of forty people or forty thousand people, it is still same mechanics, it is still the same spark in your soul and in your heart, that makes you want to do what you do and play your instruments and have a great time playing… so it doesn’t matter if you’re playing in front of forty or forty thousand, you still feel the same because of the love.
Sheldon: I’ve learnt a lot about this interview and not just what music but about life, so I thank you Frank
Frank: Thank you Sheldon
Sheldon: So if you do come to Perth let’s hang out and I’ll take you to Fremantle from chips and beers.
Frank: That would be awesome, I’m 100% going to take you up on that. I have to hop on onto the train and it is like one hour from Perth to Fremantle. Still I’ll definitely take you up on that. God bless you, Sheldon.
Sheldon: God bless you too, Frank.
PSSR FEATURING GUNS N’ ROSES’ FRANK FERRER RELEASE NEW SINGLE ‘LAST TIME’
Last Time is the brand new, full-forced, rock ‘n’ party song from New York’s PSSR, released worldwide on July 20th via Golden Robot Records.
“When was the last time you had a good time? For some it could have been yesterday. For others it may seem like forever… Hopefully for all of you the answer will be, right now when you hearLast Time.’’
Last Time is an all-out party song, with a strut totally exuding the energy of the NYC rock club scene.
First single Busted features Ferrer’s Guns N’ Roses band mate Richard Fortus on guitar and introduces the band with tough, defiant vocals over a gritty NYC rock backdrop.
“Busted is one of those songs that covers a little social commentary about game players that perhaps don’t really play fair or at least don’t consider the consequence of some of their actions; women, drugs, police, lies? A little self-awareness could keep you out of trouble. Because in the end all we have is are self to blame if things go wrong and our self to credit when it goes right!’’
Eric Jakobssen (Vocals / Guitar)
Second single ‘Push’ is also a track that encompasses what we all love about rock ‘n’ roll. Crunchy guitars, addictive hooks and of course, that New York City swagger.
“A funky song about a funky topic. This is a story about a guy who was getting it from two sides. A pushy pusher and a pushy partner both add up to a waste of time.”
Rob Bailey (Guitar)
New York City is known for a lot of things, but to some it’s the home of rock ‘n’ roll. A fiery Rock scene that spawned bands such as Kiss, The New York Dolls, The Strokes, The Ramones, Living Colour and The Velvet Underground. But it wasn’t just the bands, it is also about the iconic venues such as CBGB’s, Fillmore East, The Mercury Lounge and Bowery Ballroom.
Now also hailing from New York City, a brand-new chapter in the NYC rock ‘n’ roll story, we bring you PSSR!
PSSR are fronted by the charismatic Eric J, on vocals and guitar, featuring superstar Guns N’ Roses drummer Frank “Thunderchucker” Ferrer, steady rocking bassist Brett Bass (Greg Allman), and all tied up by journeyman lead guitarist/producer Rob Bailey(everyone from Delta Goodrem to David Johansen) and are true to the tradition of what NYC Rock is all about.
Take note fans of AC/DC, Aerosmith, Motorhead and The Stooges; PSSR has got your back!
When was the last time you had a good time? 2020 has had its share of ups and downs but PSSR are more than happy to show you the biggest party of your lifetime and there is more good time rock ‘n’ roll tunes coming soon!