RockStar Weekly Interviews
Many musicians spend their entire careers waiting for an opportunity to shine. Waiting to be noticed by the right people. For Torontonian rockers The Envy, it must seem like they've been touched by the hand of destiny. How could it not with a powerful patron like famed rocker and newly minted record producer Gene Simmons in their corner. According to lead singer Shaun Franks having Simmons on their side opens doors that would otherwise be firmly closed for a relatively unknown band who haven't even released their first album yet. “He's able to make the big calls. He's able to put us in touch with amazing people. You know, people take that guy seriously.” Simmons, widely known as a master of marketing and self promotion, has also given the band much needed exposure. Almost immediately after signing to Simmons' label The Envy were opening for KISS on tour. Soon after that they were touring with Canadian hard rock notables Finger Eleven. Simmons even managed to score Shaun Frank an appearance on the Fox Business channel.
But being the first act signed to Simmons Records comes with its own challenges. “He is definitely not shy to tell us his opinions” says Frank “there's been times when he's fought us on something and we've fought back and we've chosen to do it our way.” However Simmons knows better than to try to be too controlling. Obviously it is the band's own creative sensibilities and musical style which caught his eye in the first place. “He lets us do our thing. Which is really nice. It's not a dictatorship like a lot of people probably think. It's much more of a democracy and we all have great creative discussions and it's a very good collaborative relationship.” And don't think for one second that their relationship with Simmons has been an instant ticket to a glamourous, jet-setting rock star lifestyle. During The Envy's tour with KISS, while the headliners enjoyed fancy tour buses and five star hotels, the band had to find their own accommodations: a run down old school bus which the band has retro-fitted with a sleeping area. Not that a big of a step up from their pre-Simmons Records days when they toured Canada extensively in a troublesome van.
Not ones to rely only on famous associations to get ahead The Envy are earning their stripes the hard way. Currently they are touring extensively in the United States with American act Hinder. “The best thing for us is playing live. At least for us. We'd rather be on the road playing than anywhere else.” The band also made a music video for their single “Don't Let Go”. Originally from Vancouver, lead singer Shaun Frank was instrumental in choosing award winning Vancouver based filmmaker Colin Minihan, famous for his work with Faber Drive and Marianas Trench, to direct the video.
With their profile increasing and their debut album to be released this spring, the band also makes a conscious effort to stay connected to their existing fan base. “We like to maintain a relationship with our fans if possible. It's hard when we're on the road all the time.” explains Frank “But luckily with Facebook and Youtube and all that we can submit videos and talk back and forth. It's a huge priority of ours to keep in touch with our fans.” During their tour with KISS and several other recent overseas performances the band posted special video clips and blogs as a treat to their fans.
So with a big time name like Gene Simmons backing them, a music video under their belt and a new album on the way, The Envy are tantalizingly close to hitting the big time. But what will ensure their place on the top is the band's limitless work ethic, commitment to touring and uncommon concern with staying in touch with their audience. With all that working for them and a little luck on their side, the sky is the limit.
Interview by April Savoie