At just 39, Albert Frost has spent over two decades in the music industry and has built an admirable career founded on incredible talent, hard work, dedication and passion. The energy and charisma that keeps audiences enthralled on stage is just as apparent in his affable back-stage manner and quick, unreserved laugh. Frost joined his drummer father Frank Frost in the Blues Broers at age 17, having already been playing in The Fauves (which then became the famous band Dorp) since 1991.
Frost co-formed the Fauves as ‘a way of getting out of cadettes,’ remembers Frost. ‘If you didn’t want to do cadettes you could join the school band; it was like a no-brainer.’ The decision to leave The Fauves for the Blues Broers was a hard one, but a necessary step, says Frost. ‘I was a total Hendrix nut and I also got into Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan at the time and so I leaned towards a band that I could be an instrumentalist in more than being part of a group that’s trying to stomp something out.’
Frost continued to make a name for himself in the South African blues scene, playing with the Blues Broers, co-founding Frosted Orange with fellow Blues Broer Simon Orange in 1996, and establishing a respected solo career. Last year, Frost left the Blues Broers after 21 years and five albums,
My solo career is keeping me so busy and I felt like I needed to go in a new direction, I needed to untether myself from certain things and one of them was the Blues Broers. But it’s totally cool, we’ll never not play together again, I just need space to do my own things.
Taking to the stage at Splashy Fen for two performances, first accompanying Arno Carstens and then with his trio, Frost displayed his ability to deftly alternate between styles, showing both a talented collaborator and a fine songwriter absorbing the crowd with technical skill and a unique sound. Frost and Carstens’ collaboration goes back to the band New Porn (formed in 2003) and Carstens’ 2004 SAMA winning album Another Universe, although, Frost says, they don’t get to work together quite as frequently as they used to.
The energetic, fast-paced performance included ‘some old moody [songs] and [work] that we did together on Another Universe as well, and it’s two acoustics and vocals, something we like to think of as “acoustic metal”,’ laughs Frost. Performing with his trio (whose make up is ever fluid, adapting to where Frost is performing and musician availability), with Chris van der Walt on bass and Jason Hinch on drums, Frost gave the crowd a taste of his latest solo album, The Wake Up.
Although the talented musicians joined him on stage at Splashy Fen, they didn’t record the album with Frost, who instead collaborated with bassist Schalk Joubert and drummer Jonno Sweetman. Joubert and Sweetman make up Frost’s ‘core band’ and performed the electric The Wake Up tour with him in April.
This much-anticipated third solo album displays a sound unique to Frost, showing his background as a blues guitarist but taking the music beyond; melding stylistic elements of the blues, rock, psychedelic and African genres. The album, says Frost, signals the ‘start of a new journey’ for him. ‘It’s an album that I’ve been thinking about for 20 years; all the experiences I’ve been gathering put into music of my own. It’s something I can be proud of.’ The Wake Up is an exploration both lyrically and musically.
The songs range from exploring emotions such as fear, confusion and heartbreak to notions of family, companionship, acceptance and unconditional love. Most of the lyrical content on the album is co-written with various artists, including Hunter Kennedy, Robin Auld, Simon Orange and Albert Meintjes, who also co-produced. Frost explores all aspects of the guitar, across rhythm and leads on the album. ‘I’ve used over ten different guitars, acoustic and electric, to create my own musical soundscape of sorts,’ he says.
Recording The Wake Up was a pure labour of love for Frost, who spent 18 months tirelessly crafting his soundscape at VH Studios in Cape Town. ‘I managed to make an album in my own time instead of rushing it,’ says Frost. ‘It took me a year of preproduction to find my formula, which I can now use as a basis from here on.’ ‘The Wake Up is all about bringing something fresh to the show as well as incorporating the concept throughout the performance… My sound is changing with this album so I hope people like it as much as I do.’