TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Vocals – Fronz (Attila)
October 12th, 2016
Whether or not you’re part of a controversial band that is known for polarising opinions, attracting lovers or haters and very few listeners that sit in the middle, being a versatile vocalist is essential in sticking out. Fronz (or Fronzilla, or even Christopher Fronzak) of Attila is definitely a frontman who has a few cards up his sleeves, one of which being his unique and spur of the moment creation: rap screams.
Soon to be dropping their sixth full-length record ‘Chaos’, one which the band have gone on record of being their most diverse and versatile, Fronz has also aimed to present how he’s stepped up his game on the vocal front. So, we had a little word with the guy to talk about why he got into doing vocals, how he works on improving his vocal work, how to avoid and heal vocal damage, and more.
My original inspiration for becoming a vocalist was the lack of creativity & originality within heavy music when I started out 13 years ago. At the time heavy vocalists all sounded the same, they were very monotone and used the same vocal patterns over and over. I set out as a vocalist to break down barriers, I wanted to make my voice sound like 5 vocalists in one and use unique patterns and think outside the box.
I never originally planned to be a vocalist. When I was about 12 I tried out every single instrument and I sucked ass at everything. Through process of elimination, the only thing I was left with was vocals. Eventually, when I was 13, I met some older high school kids that offered me to ‘scream’ in their band. I’d never done it before, but I committed and told them I could do it. I grabbed the microphone and tried it out, and I didn’t suck. Well… I wasn’t good at first, but I didn’t suck.
Lil Jon was always a big favourite. I like the aggression in his rap. He’s basically yelling. I said “Hey, if Lil Jon can yell in his rap then I can too!” I love 2 Chainz for his tone and his verses. The shit he says is so clever.
Out of vocalists in our music scene, I like Tyler Carter (Issues/ex-Woe, Is Me). He’s been a close friend of mine for a really long time. One vocalist I always loved growing up was the vocalist of The Warriors (Marshall Lichtenwaldt). ‘War Is Hell’ is one of my favourite albums. I love how he sounds like he’s screaming so hard that his throat is bleeding. I also recommend Dan Watson (Enterprise Earth/ex-Infant Annihilator).
Credit: Liz Ramanand
If I had to choose a favourite, I would say that it’s a tie between guttural low vocals or clean singing. Guttural lows just feel badass as fuck, they feel so good live. It’s just pure evil. I like clean singing because it’s hard. It’s a challenge for me, and challenge is what fuels me. If I didn’t constantly challenge myself I’d probably just keel over and die.
I started doing my crazy fast rap screams one day when I was completely tweaked out on coffee. I was about 16 years old and worked at Starbucks. Coffee was free, so I took advantage and drank way more coffee than I should have. I got super jacked on espresso and wrote the beginning of ‘Soda In the Water Cup’ on the back of a receipt. Later that day at practice, I grabbed the microphone and started spitting rapid fire scream vocals, and the entire band was in shock. Their jaws dropped, and the rest is history. It kind of became my signature vocal style.
Practice singing/screaming in your car or in your room while you blast your stereo on full volume. Keep experimenting and singing along to all different types of songs until you find something that suits your voice, and then build yourself up from there. Don’t over-exert yourself in the beginning. Start with easier songs that have more simple vocals and then progress from there.
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t reach a certain tone or pitch, or if you aren’t an amazing vocalist at first. Experiment with different techniques until you find a tone that works for you. Every voice is different. Focus on what your voice is the strongest at and then expand from there. You will always get better with time. I’ve been singing for 13 years now, and I still learn more every year. Practice, practice, practice.
Vocal warm-ups are vital. I usually do between 15-30 minutes of warm-ups before every performance or recording session. I find that warm-ups are more vital for me during the beginning of a tour versus the end of a tour. This might just be a personal thing, but my voice always feels extremely strong once I’m a week or two into a tour.
I personally use the Melissa Cross ‘Zen Of Screaming’ warm-ups. I don’t do the entire procedure, I just pick out the bits and pieces that feel the best for my voice. I haven’t had any one-on-one lessons with her, but I think her lessons are great.
Your throat/mouth is just used for sculpting the tone, not for pushing out the tone. Try to push your vocals from the gut, from your diaphragm. If you’re hurting your voice, you aren’t doing it right.
After a show, practice, or recording session, get lots of sleep, water, hydration, and warm tea. Don’t drink anything bubbly. If you’re old enough to drink alcohol, Honey Jack Daniels works wonders. It coats your throat and gives you a good buzz. If you don’t drink, Throat Coat is great if you need that extra edge. It keeps your voice sounding full and juicy.
It sounds rude, but don’t talk too much. Make sure you’re sleeping at least a solid 8 hours per night. Literally, the only thing that heals your vocal chords is sleep. I’ve literally been on tour with bands where their singer couldn’t sing any of his parts because he partied all night and refused to sleep. Sleep is key.
As a vocalist, I am the most proud of my performance on our new album, ‘Chaos’. This is the most vocally diverse album I’ve ever written, and I know that you guys will think the same.
Attila‘s new full-length album, ‘Chaos’ is set for release on November 4th 2016 through SharpTone Records.
Are you in a band? Do you own a label or PR company? Want to share your experience and tips with others aspiring to do the same thing? Get in touch with our features editor, Mike Heath (email or Twitter), and we can share your tricks of the trade.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)