For Rhett Frazier Inc, every day is Saturday. “When you live life by your passions, when you manifest what the world could be and don’t abide what you are told it is- there’s nothing you can’t accomplish,” says Rhett Frazier, vocalist, songwriter, and half of the duo Rhett Frazier Inc. “Like the title tracks says- Mondays ain’t wrote down on my calendar.” Donny Gruendler- a.k.a Inc- drummer, producer, synth-wizard, makes the point clear- “This world- and especially Los Angeles- demands your sweat and toil, so if you’re going to work your ass off, why not do what you love?”
Every Day Is Saturday, the title track, hammers this right into your cortex. “Try to strike your bargains, with the world we’ve made- they bribe you with your life -and say how handsomely you’re paid…” Funk: deconstructed, then rebuilt. Space and grandeur, fat organic synths, and a groove so naked and simple it seems – like all such drum grooves- impossible to play. And just like that, you know the love and hard work that forged this album. Ebullient joy, the depth from hard won battles, the wisdom from having lost some, the suffering that transcends, the funk, the holy oil and anointed grease of soul and gospel, a cinematic use of space – these are the essence of Every Day is Saturday. This is the journey that Inc and Rhett Frazier ask you to take, and you will want to go with them.
It is not a trajectory without precedent. Born and raised in Detroit, Donny Gruendler –Inc- purposely set out to contribute to the city’s storied musical legacy. From an early age he soaked it all up, honed his chops, and through his raw talent and willpower – became one of the most sought-after musicians in the Motor City. Eventually he took his place as a peer of soul and jazz giants, playing with such luminaries as Motown’s redoubtable Funk Brothers. “For me the styles I absorbed in Detroit became second nature after awhile. They are part of my DNA. Since this music comes naturally to both Rhett and I, when we set out to make this album, we really wanted to let those raw and grooving impulses loose. To get out of our own way, so to speak.”
Frazier has an elusive background that reveals plenty in paradox. Born and reared in Oklahoma he credits the state’s history as a crossroads and sometimes a battleground of many peoples and cultures, many of them Native American, as being the foundry of a kind of soul not so different from that found in “Dee-Troyt.” “Lowell Fulson, Wayne Bennett (Bobby “Blue” Bland guitarist), Roy Milton- all are from (or resided) within 30 minutes of my home town.” Though many would not recognize these names aside from record collectors (he’s one of them)- Frazier revels in them, and it’s clear that “soul” is a thing as dear to him as love, honor, or pride.
Still, the vanguard- or is it the avant-garde- is always close at hand with Rhett Frazier Inc. In fact, though the album is imbued with traditions that simmer under the surface like a Norman Whitfield movie score, a synthesis is happenin’, and a breakthrough goin’ on’.
Take a song like Pieces. On the surface…a blues? But actually- an ingenious amalgamation of jazz, gospel, psychedelia, soul, and rock – hard-boiled poetry set to music so primal one could imagine us sending it into space to beckon distant cosmic strangers to our aid. “Dear Planet X- this is us at our best.” And yet, though the sonic landscapes are sometimes familiar in songs like WTH?, La Petite Mort, and the Pig- in merciless funk grooves and irreverent jazz chording – there is an otherworldly precision and a penchant to obliterate conventions that makes the album something else entirely. Clocking in at a ruthless 38 minutes and 33 seconds, Every Day is Saturday is a portal to another “thang.”
“Technology is a tool just like any other tool, unless you are a tool and don’t use it that way. Computers exist, just like the electric guitar did when someone was smart enough to first use it. Miles Davis incorporated the electric piano. It was cool. We do the same,” Donny says. Rhett is, as always, more mercurial, “I like to create tension with modern sounds and traditional ones, I like mixing analog and digital textures. What does the song cry out for? That’s my question. I do what it says.” Donny, (laughing) “Sometimes it says “distorted synth” and sometimes it says “old organ from a yard sale.”
Every Day is Saturday is passion made manifest—passion for life and music. But Frazier cautions, “Passion is not all lollipops, chocolate bunnies, and moonbeams. Passion has a cost. We let it all hang out with this album, but sometimes what comes out surprises you, when you give into it.” Donny knows better – “But that’s what makes your life full and rewarding.”
One more thing- What’s in the present on the record cover?
“What do you think is in it?” asks Frazier. “Maybe it a gift we give ourselves.”
“Maybe it’s miniature airplane bottles of scotch,” says Inc.
There’s no time like the present to find out.
Every Day is Saturday from Rhett Frazier Inc.