Get to know musician Frank Watkinson

It was a couple of months ago that I was watching videos on youtube for Leonard Cohen, possibly Chelsea Hotel No. 2 and after the song played another version of the song began to play. It was by a man with an accoustic guitar putting his unique interpretation on the song. I dived deeper watching several of his cover songs while with my wife for a couple of hours. He wasn’t just covering folk songs. He had covers of Neutral Milk Hotel, even Slipknot, Death Cab For Cutie, Wilco, the Lumineers & more. I wondered why isn’t this guy more known. He had to have been in bands when he was younger. He has a youtube channel, just him, his guitar, his stories & the most dynamic find of all. He has wonderful original songs. He comes across very humble. He’s done hundreds of cover songs & originals for years & just loves playing music. He’s not looking for fame and money it seems. He’s doing this out of the love of making music.

https://www.youtube.com/user/LOLhi28/featured is Frank Watkinson’s youtube page. Please check his music out & his covers as well.

small interview with Frank Watkinson:

  1. I would just ask how long you’ve been working on your own songs & how do you decide which songs to cover? Frank: I have been writing songs ever since I picked up a guitar, nothing any good, I still don’t think they are that great now but that’s just me , most of the covers I do are requests, I would try anything if asked ,i still do them now but the list exceeds 1500 , so the chances are getting slimmer for those that request them , I was told I should do a Patreon account and people pay for them ,but that would then seem too much like work and i also can’t cover everything ,I’d get stressed out too much ,it’s also not about the money for me I just like what I do right now.
  2. 1. Do you enjoy writing songs more than covers?  What are some of the songs  you’re most proud of? Frank: I think i like writing my own songs because even if they are vague I know the reason I wrote it , I am not good enough a musician to play a cover exact that is why I simplify them , I have always said don’t let your inability stop you from what you enjoy ,you can only get better,
  3. Who have been your biggest influences, or musically who are some of your favorites? Frank: Basically all the older types like Dylan, James Taylor Ralph McTell , it goes on , I like almost anything acoustic ,but i also like a good song no matter what genre .
  4. Does it take you very long to write a song, and do you enjoy the process or feel hurried to get it done? Frank: Some songs take a few days on and off but they are mostly the ones where I came up with a melody first then try to put words to, others can take as little as 20 minutes for the lyrics as they seem to write themselves , then I just put a basic tune on them , it’s the ones that are started and finished in less than an hour that seem to go down the best.
  5.  I have only began listening to your stuff about a month ago, so I haven’t seen every video.  Whereabouts in the UK do  you live?  I have many great poet contributors to my poetry endeavors. It is refreshing to know it still seems relevant unlike in the U.S. as much the arts, the poetry, the music. Frank:  I live in a town called Huntingdon ,about 12 miles from Cambridge.
  6. Have you played in any bands while younger? Frank:  I have never played in a band and i haver never played live anywhere , I have no desire to either ,I’m not a stage performer I dread the thought , sitting at home with a cat and dog as my audience is one thing ,standing up in front of others is another ball game, I just mess around writing or covering a song post it on you tube and set it free , I also have no desire to record them in a studio despite the requests to, I think I’m a what you see is what you get person.
  7. Do you enjoy poetry or particular writers or authors?  I don’t mind listening to the occasional poem but I’m a terrible reader, I struggle to read a book because my mind wanders and before i know it I’ve forgotten what I’ve just read ,thank God for audio books , I can put on headphones and be in another world.
  8.  How were you encouraged to try out the youtube process, and did you use any other internet avenues prior to youtube? Frank: I put some very old songs on Soundcloud to begin with , then one day just to see how easy it was I posted a song on you tube ,easier than I thought so kept on posting , I certainly didn’t plan on the reaction i seem to be getting, I haven’t pushed myself in any way at all , it was supposed to be a bit of fun with one or two subscribers. 
  9. What have been some of your other hobbies growing up? Frank: I honestly don’t think i had any other hobbies ,I used to work almost every hour i could and the only thing I did in my spare time would have been play the guitar for an hour or two.
  10. Have you done much traveling and where are some of your favorite places you’ve visited? Frank: I have done very little travelling abroad ,a few times to Euro Disney with the family , and a visit to Cyprus to see my daughter ,but I do travel all over the UK I like to go to places then leave the main routes and discover places myself.

Just performing songs my way ,nothing too serious, we can’t all be polished professionals but that shouldn’t be a reason not to sing. if you really want to donate then here is a PayPal link ,i’m quite happy either way . https://paypal.me/pools/c/8uPISeE6aB

A Music Spotlight: An Interview with musician Austin Lucas (from Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020)

A Music Spotlight: An Interview with Austin Lucas

Austin Lucas has a new album “Alive in the Hot Zone” which many have in their year-end best of 2020 award nominees.

 (Cornelius Chapel Records)

First off Thanks Austin for granting an interview with us at Fevers of the Mind Press for the Fevers of the Mind Poetry Digest: The Poets of 2020.

Austin: Thanks so much for including me!

  1. It has been over a year since the last issue.  It is weird, it seems like something might have happened to try to jog away from the creativity into a slow depression month after month as this has continued.   The year 2020 has been some work, and it has taken nearly a year for me to fully get my creative fuses (mostly out of the anger of this year) to feel like there has to be another edition!  There are many voices out there that have been writing through the year, and their voices all need to be heard. 

With that, how have you kept your creativity with writing songs & putting out a new album? Was it any different going into the studio and recording the new album in the wake of the pandemic.

Austin:  I have found myself baffled by the disconnect from reality among my fellow americans, along with their seemingly limitless capacity to entirely abandon reason.  As for inspiration and the process of staying active in song writing, it seems that I was able to have even more time to exercise my capacity for creation with so much time off the road.

  • I was a huge fan of Immortal Americans & Shallow Inland Sea after hearing your appearances on the comedy podcast Improv4Humans with Matt Besser.  Even my 8-year-old daughter became a fan of “Immortal Americans” and I love that song and Shallow Inland Sea) How is Matt Besser and the Improv4Humans experience?

Austin: I love Matt and all the I4H crew so it’s always so cool when I get to collaborate with them and also when I hear that someone discovered me through that medium.

  • I’ve been listening to the new single “Drive” on repeat listens, and watching the interesting Pandemic feel of the video on Youtube.   Where was it filmed?

Austin: Well it was shot in Berlin during the pandemic, so what you were seeing is life as it is currently lived. That video was a phenomenal experience because I was able to cast a bunch of my favorite people who I honestly don’t get to see often enough.

  • How are you maintaining focus and coming up with new creative endeavors without the touring and the availability of concerts?  Tell us a little about the Save the Stage movement also.

Austin: As I mentioned before, I seem to have almost boundless creative energy when so much of my time isn’t spent traveling and feeling worn down by life on the road. Sometimes I get incredibly tired still, due to my intense training and coaching schedule with Muay Thai but even that doesn’t distract me and leave me feeling so depleted as constant travel.

  • When I heard your interviews regarding your songs in the past, I was excited to learn that you grew up in the Bloomington, Indiana area.  I grew up in Western Kentucky and lived in Evansville for nearly 20 years.  I’ve spent many nights visiting Bloomington.  Always good shows up there.  What was it like growing up in the Midwest?  What about the Midwest do you love, and what part of it makes you shake your head?

Austin: I don’t know, there are so many things I both love and hate about the Midwest but honestly, I don’t find much more wrong with the Midwest than I do with any other part of the USA. There’s good and bad and the bad things are found in literally every corner of the United States. I do love how direct people are in the Midwest vs. other parts of the US though. We’re polite but we won’t bend over backwards and bullshit you if we think you suck.

  • I know you have many roots in punk music and for most of your career, you have spun punk ideologies into an Americana/rock-folk carving.  So, who were your heroes musically, and inevitably with writing song lyrics that maybe have helped you weave the two musical styles into your niche?

Austin: His Hero Is Gone, Discharge, X, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Beatles. Jason Molina is probably my greatest lyrical influence but there’s a lot in my repertoire that’s derived from my upbringing in the Bluegrass and folk lineage.

  • What is your process when you write a song?  How long does it usually take to come up with a full song to your liking, music and all?

Austin: It really depends, I’m a notoriously furious and extensive self editor so it can take anywhere from hours to years for me to write a song. I generally begin with a riff and build words and melody around the first riff that I write and go for there.

  • I’d like to congratulate you on your nomination in the category for  Americana Song of the Year in the upcoming AMA-UK Awards in 2021.   How do you handle the recognition that you deserve for your work? 

Austin: Thanks so much, I honestly just smile and feel grateful. I’ve been in this songwriting game for a very long time and have yet to receive many accolades. Which means that while I appreciate it all the more as a result, I also have a hard time imagining that it will be a regular occurrence. At the moment I’m just gonna soak it up and be grateful that some folks cared enough to nominate me for an award in the first place.

  • You’ve worked with many great artists on albums such as Lydia Loveless & John Moreland.  Is there a musician out there that you would love to work with, or came close to working with that once (hopefully) someday when COVID is gone that you’d feel like this could be the ultimate collaboration?

Austin: I’d honestly love to work with several artists but the dream for me would be to just sing duets with Dolly and Emmylou or Gillian Welch. My other biggest dreams are to make albums with Baroness and Neurosis and also to make an album with Blitzen Trapper would be an absolute dream.

  1. Out of the many, many songs you’ve written.  Which do you feel the most complete lyrically let’s say, or just satisfied with the outcome.  Do you ever feel like hey, where did these words come to me from?  I think lyrically Monroe City Nights resonates with me so well.  I can feel the sadness of the Midwest & the vulnerability to adapt and so everything just seems stagnant (in the solitude of okay, I guess this is how my life has to be?)

Austin: To my mind, that song is absolutely one of my crowing masterpieces in a lot of ways. I’m honestly very proud of my body of work overall but my last 2 albums have probably had the most of what I’d consider “me” in them.

  1. Tell me about the new album “Alive in the Hot Zone” released this Fall.  What about this album is getting the buzz of Austin Lucas out there in the Americana & Indie scene.  What about this album, do you feel is different from your other albums? 

Austin: I honestly don’t know, I guess it’s the fact that I managed to write about what everyone was going through in the world right now and actually release it while we were still experiencing it as a global community.

  1. Finally, the dumb question.  Let’s say some bozo with some weapon comes up to you.  Let’s say He’s like I’ve got 2 albums that you have to re-make, and you have to choose one to cover completely (no matter what it does for your career) and hey maybe you can change the dynamic of people’s minds about the albums, Do you cover Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True” album or Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes”?

Austin: I’d personally rather cover Go Go’s “Beauty and the Beat but I think I’d go with the Debbie Gibson album, if those were my only two options.

  1. No really, we’ve seen like full album covers by artists like Beck, the Bird, and the Bee, and ummm…yeah Ryan Adams do such, if you ever went that route with an album what would you consider an awesome honorable album to cover?

Austin: Oh, haha, I guess I already answered that question but let me say two things. 1. Ryan Adams is a creep and 2. I’d also really love to cover the entirety of the Cure “Pornography” or “Darklands” by Jesus and Mary Chain.

  1. Thank you, Austin for spending a little bit of your time with Fevers of the Mind, and much success on the new album & good luck with the award nomination.

Austin: Thank you so much for sitting down and asking me these questions.

Bio Courtesy of Austin Lucas.com

Austin Lucas is a punk journeyman, activist and songwriter from Bloomington, Indiana. Consumed by an overdeveloped sense of wanderlust as a young person, Austin spent his formative years in the driver’s seat of various beat-up Ford Econolines. Burning through countless miles and living the world over, he’s made his home everywhere from the American West Coast to the Czech Republic.

As a young person, Austin worshipped a diverse mixture of Classic Rock, Country, Punk, Psychedelic Folk and Mountain Music, and has made a career by successfully fusing these disparate influences into something uniquely his own. Emerging as a prominent and revered talent among his fans and peers, Austin has stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the most recognizable icons of Folk, Punk, Indie, Country and Americana, all the while uplifting the traditions of Roots Music and holding true to the attitude and ethics of political DIY Punk and Indie music as the lifeblood that runs through his veins.

Releasing albums since 2006, Austin Lucas has been a fixture in the worlds of Alternative Country and Folk Punk for nearly two decades, having sang alongside and toured with everyone from Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson, Ray Price, Brent Cobb, Frank Turner, Chuck Ragan, Dawes, Langhorne Slim, Joe Pug, John Moreland, Lucero and many others. To hear Austin Lucas or see him live is to discover the type of well-kept secret that can only stay that way for so long.

During the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown Austin Lucas has sheltered in place in Mainz, Germany. Although growing homesick far away from his home and family in Indiana, he has successfully used this extra time and inspired energy to prove that it’s impossible to keep a good troubadour down, writing and recording songs for his forthcoming album, “Alive In The Hot Zone!”.