The Frank Irwin Quintet has been keeping busy during these show-less times by finding inspiration in their favorite artists and songs while also seeking ways to collaborate with their local music community.
Today, band leader and bassist Chris Frank shares the first of four new singles, his arrangement of the brooding Nine Inch Nails rocker “Piggy” featuring Nicole McCabe on alto sax, Ian Christensen on tenor sax, James Powers on trombone, Molly Keller on trumpet, Corey Heppner on guitar, and Alexander Thomas providing drums and engineering.
“I enjoy arranging songs for Frank Irwin Quintet that mean something to me personally and musically,” Frank tells. “‘Piggy’ is such a simple tune with layers of rage kind of piled on top of each other, building to a sweet release. I first arranged NIN’s ‘Piggy’ last October because it fit the vibe of the group so well and I know these musicians would shine on it. Corey Heppner handles the melody with such care and then unleashes on the solo. We recorded the single a couple musicians at a time during the first week of protests against police brutality, and the level of frustration and anger really seeped its way into the track. The hectic free improvisation of the outro slowly solidifies into a pleading unison line that can’t be denied.”
This single also comes with a B-side remix from Portland emcee Cloud Castle and producer MLTZR (aka Alex Meltzer of Korgy & Bass), which directly addresses the ongoing protests against police brutality and injustice.
“Being a big Nine Inch Nails fan, I was really excited to hop on this track,” Cloud Castle says. “Frank and Meltzer are some of my favorite musicians to work with, and with everything going on in the world, the opportunity to vent was a welcome release. It’s important to me that this track serve as a vehicle to highlight police brutality and the social injustices faced by a majority of BIPOC people in America. Time and time again, we see the police commit government-sanctioned murders and get away with it. You start to feel angry and helpless when you see the same scenes happen repeatedly. Music is my way of combating those feelings. The police and justice system that they serve remain a constant symbol of systemic racism and oppression in this country, and it’s up to us to stand against these bigoted institutions until that is no longer the case.”
The “Piggy” remix represents an incredible coming together of local musicians during our current situation of social isolation.
“I was really stoked on how much of a collaborative effort it was,” producer Alex Meltzer says. “Frank sent me the stems of all the different people in the band, I made the beat, my buddy Aleksey [Izotov] laid down the keyboard stuff, Fiji [Cloud Castle] wrote the raps, and we squeezed in Barra [Brown of Korgy & Bass] on that little flute part at the end.”
“I’m always looking for a chance to collaborate with Cloud Castle,” Frank continues. He “is an incredibly insightful and humble emcee, and he laid down an honest assessment of the current state of policing in Portland and the country as a whole. It’s an honor having such incredible musicians play my arrangements, and I’m doubly humbled by Meltzer and Cloud Castle’s reimagining of the track.”
As “the first of four singles I’ll be releasing to close out 2020,” Frank says, “each will have a B-side remix” by a Portland beat producer including Brown Calvin (Brown Calculus, Tribe Mars) and Neill Von Tally (EYRST, The Last Artful, Dodgr), who also mixed and mastered what you hear here.