Recently, XMFan had the
privilege of speaking with Darren Schlappich, lead vocalist and acoustic
guitarist of Frogholler. For lack of a better description, Frogholler
is a progressive country band consisting of one part Hank Williams, one
part Roy Acuff, one part Jerry Garcia, and one part "shake yo' ass."
After hearing Railings, Holler's latest release, one has to
believe Williams, Acuff, and Garcia are indeed looking down and doing
some shakin' themselves...
Would you tell us how Frogholler came into being?
Kutztown University (Pennsylvania) is kinda where
we're all from. We were all interested in the same kind of music,
bluegrass music, and were all involved in the creative scene that was
going on. This was around '96, '97.
How would you best
describe the bands style of music?
This is always my least favorite question. I'm down now
to saying that we're a song band, and a rock band with a banjo.
Name a few musicians
you consider a personal influence.
Bluegrass music was the thing that got me started, the
real traditional stuff like Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Doc
Watson and Norman Blake. I think that all of us, though, listened to
all kinds of different music. I don't know how much of it seeped its'
way into Frogholler, other than to say that we're all just big music
fans. So I think bluegrass started it off, but we've gotten far away
from just traditional bluegrass. I think all the stuff we listen to
must find its' way into there somehow.
How old were you the
first time you sang in front of an audience?
twenty-nine. I'm a late bloomer. Frogholler was my first band, the
first time I played in front of people.
How old were you when
you realized you could sing?
Twenty-nine (laughs). I had never played, or even
thought that I could, until twenty-nine. Then I just started to do it.
The band has gathered
quite a following on the east coast, with a reputation for hell-raisin',
guitar-pickin', harp-blowin' shows. Any comment?
that's true. You know, we've always been lucky to get to play in front
of crowds that outnumber the band (members). I don't know how to
account for that... I think maybe alot of word of mouth follows our
band, people see the band and tell friends about us. I think maybe
we've made a connection with the audience.
Do you prefer live
performances or working in the studio?
I was always a record person, and making records were
more important. I think for some of the other guys playing live might
have been more important, but I think I enjoy both things now. I love
playing to an audience, it's really great. Like the previous question,
the connection we've made with the audience, it makes playing live
really great. I really enjoy both aspects now.
Do you have any
special memories from your 2002 tour of the Netherlands?
entire thing (laughs). The whole thing. It was just a great
experience, a great place. We had a chance to see the whole country,
not just Amsterdam, and I was impressed the whole time. People really
appreciated us, and made it easy for us to be creative there, and even
on a Tuesday night there were alot of people there to see us play. I
can't wait to go back, actually.
Along those same
lines, did you notice much of a difference between an audience in the
Netherlands versus an audience in, say, Pennsylvania?
Well, kind of a tough question. People in the
Netherlands, in every town we played in, a bunch of people already knew
who we were. That was really surprising, but the people there are
really responsive to american music, so we kind of felt at home in a
What are a few
fan-favorites you make sure to play at every show?
We mix it up. We now have four records worth of material
and a ton of other songs we cover, so we try to keep rotating and not
get too stale with any song. Some songs get retired at times and people
want to hear them, but we like to give them a rest for a while. Right
now, people want to hear Pennsylvania alot, but we're not really
playing it much right now. We hope people are there to hear lots of
different songs, not just one in particular.
I've noticed XM has
played Idiots, God's Children, Glory, and What
Went Down the past few days. I know XM is very responsive to taking
requests, but it's interesting to hear which songs they play since
Frogholler hasn't released a "single" per se.
That's been one of the things I've really liked. As far
as radio play, it's never been a consensus of just one song. Lots of
different songs get played, and I really like that. I like that our
records have more than just one or two good songs to choose, and people
who are given their own choice will choose alot of different songs.
It's really cool.
scheduled to perform at The American Roots Festival in Media, PA on
April 24. Could you tell us a bit about the festival?
This is like a little community festival along the main
street of the town, and we'll be playing at Joclyn's. There's a
big group of fans from Media that have come to see us play for a long
time now, and it will be our first time playing in their home town.
Do you have a website
where fans can find your upcoming tour dates?
should we expect to hear on Railings, your newest release?
Acoustic and electric guitars, lap-steel (guitar), banjo,
mandolin. Also on Railings, different from the other releases,
we used alot of organ and piano, keyboard sounds.
How can XMFans buy
Railings, or any of you other releases?
The easiest way would probably be to go to the website
Are all four of your
CDs still available?
Yes, they are.
Do fans ever mention
to you they heard Frogholler on XM Radio?
fact they do. All the time. They have been since the last record,
Idiots. I get lots of reports from all over the place that people
heard us on XM.
I read that you guys
wear out your CD player while on the road. Do you think you might get
satellite radio one day?
Yes, I've actually been thinking about that because we
live in kind of a "radio wasteland." Not much in the way of radio
One last question.
In a nutshell, how would you describe the journey so far?
Fun (laughs). It's been really fun. In the
beginning it was kind of a dare to myself just to see if we could do it,
having never played music before. It's been seven years already, and
that's hard to believe. It doesn't feel that long.
Frogholler can be heard
on XM Radio Channel 12, X-Country.