Singer/songwriter, Frank Brown, formerly of Flight of Mavis, hooked up with Tommy Conwell in 1996 and Buzz Zeemer (along with drummer Ken Buono and bassist Dave McElroy) and recorded a pop masterpiece, Plaything. Zeemer featured Brown’s witty, tuneful songcraft complimented by Conwell’s tasty hooks and grooves. Buzz Zeemer’s sophomore effort released in 1999, Delusions of Grandeur, generated a buzz with music critics. The band performed at South by Southwest in Texas along with countless gigs at their home court - Grape Street Pub in Manayunk. After a long hiatus, Buzz Zeemer reunites and records a new song titled One Shot, featured on Record Cellar’s fifty-song compilation titled Town and Country.
Frank Brown: One Shot was one of five songs I sent Dave (McElroy) to choose from for Town and Country. We recorded it on one of the hottest nights of the summer with producer/engineer Matt Muir in Manayunk. Learned it and recorded it the same night. I like it.
Tell me a funny story from a Buzz Zeemer live gig.
Frank Brown: I think the funniest Zeemer gig stories are when the joke is on us. When you agree to play anywhere, you never know where you will wind up. We played at a Best Buy store opening. A 40th birthday party down the shore. We played a gig where so few people showed up that we started playing any Steve Miller song we knew. "Swingtown," anyone?
You have spent time with Tommy Conwell in the recording studio. What makes Tommy a sought-after guitarist?
Frank Brown: Tommy is an absolute blast to play with. I had a song called Crush that was recorded with a couple different guitar players before Tommy played on it. It was never how I heard it. I asked Tom to play it in a certain way and in a minute, it became the song it is today. Much like the rest of the band, Tom enjoys playing all kinds of music. We can be very rock at times and very nice at times. It's nice to play with someone who can play anything you ask ...and more.
What was your reaction hearing a Flight of Mavis song on the alternative radio stations for the first time?
Frank Brown: I never get tired of hearing our stuff on the radio. I think the first time we were played on the radio was on XPN when Jim Moran (of the Wishniaks) played our 4-track demo. It was fun. We were extremely green.
Who are your musical heroes?
Frank Brown: There's so many...Terry Adams, Lennon and McCartney, Nick Lowe, Captain Beefheart, Brian Wilson, Rick Nielsen, Bill Evans -- all the good ones.
Your songwriting has been compared to Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and Squeeze. How do you go about writing a song?
Frank Brown: All different ways! It depends on the situation. Sometimes the music is first, sometimes the lyrics. The best ones take about fifteen minutes. The rest are much longer -- sometimes 45 minutes.
The Philadelphia press reported that you offered sleeping accommodations to former Replacement Tommy Stinson. Tell me the story.
Frank Brown: I had the pleasure of opening for both Tommy Stinson and Slim Dunlop (latter day guitarist of The Replacements) and actually had both of them stay at my house in West Philadelphia. I think the Westerberg story was written in the paper but wasn't actually true. I would hate to think that we opened for Westerberg and that I had no memory of it?! Then again... our place in West Philadelphia was host to a lot of bands on Peter Jesperson's Medium Cool label. They were all very fine guests but I think we enjoyed Slim the most. Great character and great stories.
Buzz Zeemer’s Let Them Eat Rock is a crowd favorite. Any chance it will ever be recorded?
Frank Brown: I would like to think we'll have a live version of it from our reunion gig at Grape Street. I can't imagine it ever being officially recorded by us. We're in awe of the original by The Upper Crust.
What is in the future for Buzz Zeemer?
Frank Brown: I would hate to think that the reunion show is the last time we will play together.....but it might be. As of now, there are no plans to do anything together in the future. Regardless, as long as everyone continues to have a pulse -- you never know!