Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle (7/20/05) Houston pop gets a boost from Lanky By SARA CRESS Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle It's official: Houston is becoming the place for hot, young pop singer-songwriters. We've already got Arthur Yoria, Tody Castillo and Cameron Dezen. But when an artist leaves the Northeast to further his music career in Houston, you know something's up. Bill Olive : For the Chronicle Lanky performs at the Stag's Head Pub. "I've explored what's going on in numerous cities," says Frank Stabile, aka Lanky, "but Houston is unique in that you can play music and make some money. There seems to be an appreciation for the pop songwriter here. They tell me this is the place to be, so I came." Perhaps you've never heard of Lanky, but he's been buzzing around your periphery. He's played about 500 shows around the country in the past three years, with 50 or so of those in Houston. He recently released his third album in three years, Odd Hour Work Week. And you may have seen him modeling expensive clothes on the cover of 002 this month. "I have to send a copy to my mom," he says. "They quoted my song title and put my lyrics in there. It will infiltrate people that I can't possibly ever reach." Stabile's stage name is a literal reflection of the guy's tall, skinny frame. "I never intended to be known as Lanky, but when I was making my first solo record, I wanted a name for the project and it stuck. Some days I think it's the most ridiculous moniker in the world and sometimes cringe when I hear it, but I guess it's memorable. Maybe I'm a marketing genius." Lanky is from New Jersey. He started out like they all do: teenager with guitar, family member (cousin Nick) with a taste for rock (KISS), amateurish beginnings on "steppingstone" stages, and the eventual maturity that comes from playing/singing/writing for years. "If someone had told me years ago that I would be playing shows by myself with an acoustic guitar, I would have never believed them. I was in a band prior to being solo. We put a record out and did some regional touring up North, but it just got to a point where I felt that we'd taken our shot and it didn't quite get there. I wanted to get out on the road without the frustration of somebody's girlfriend or somebody's job." There were plenty of reasons to leave New Jersey. There aren't a lot of places to play, Lanky says, and the support for original music is lacking. There's also that thing about never being respected in the town where you first rocked. "When you come up in a place, audiences are going to see you fail," he says. "If I have any benefit here it's that I've already taken my knocks and developed a bit. I'm coming in here with all guns firing. The people in New Jersey saw me with, like, a cap gun." Releasing a solid, radio-friendly album is certainly the way to go about making a name for yourself in a new city. Odd Hour Work Week showcases Lanky's bewitching voice that avoids affectation. The disc opens with Falling Hard for the Girl, which would sound at home on a romantic comedy soundtrack. Delectable hooks abound on Girl, Crashing the Car Is Learning to Drive and You Don't Know What It's About. Good Thing and How Many Pieces? are softer, acoustic standouts. His songwriting talent comes with a downside of course: breakups. "I meet a girl. I write a song. I date the girl, write a couple more songs. I break up with the girl, write 10 songs." Since moving to Houston in February, Lanky has spent six weeks out on the road and will continue to tour. He's putting together a fall tour now in support of the new album. "I enjoy playing night after night," he says. "You get into a groove and it starts to become effortless and magical because you're not really worried about the next chord. You're in the moment and you try to fly if you can." Lanky has also spearheaded a project that he hopes will become a monthly stop for all of Houston's pop lovers: a pop songwriter-in-the-round show at Rudyard's. "I want to capture the attention of people who listen to mainstream music and don't know that there are these songwriters that they would enjoy, playing down the street."