WENATCHEE — Recording an album in a basement during winter has its complications.
Like heaters. Heaters can be loud. That noise doesn’t need to be on the record. And if you listen carefully, the right, or in this case, wrong light makes a buzzing sound.
Rylei Franks made do.
“I’d have a real hot cup of coffee downstairs and I’d turn (the heater and light) off, play as much as I could — you know, 15, 20 minutes — warm back up and then kick it off again and do it before class started,” Franks said.
The 10-track work, made freezing in the dark, is the nursing student’s latest and drops Friday. “The Mrs.” diverts from his historically soft acoustic sounds and experiments in raspy, pop-punk inspired vocals.
He practiced at home for weeks before trying them in public, “Because I was so scared my voice wasn’t going to hold up for a whole show,” Franks said. “But I’ve conditioned it.”
Franks, 30, was named the Vans Warped Tour acoustic artist of the year in 2015.
“I’m most known for my love songs and my acoustic ballads, and so I pay homage to that and I have these cute little love songs on there but then I also wanted to try and push myself in writing lyrics that are a little bit older and have more depth to them,” Franks said.
He moved to Wenatchee three years ago and met his wife, Briana Franks, not long after. She’s “The Mrs.” He wrote the song “Weight in Gold” for Briana and performed it at their wedding.
“It’s basically asking, if I could give you my weight in gold, would you stay with me? Because this was before we got married, I was just trying to tell her ‘Hey, I’m worth the risk,’” Franks said. “And then, so I was like, ‘If you’ll be my girl, we’ll live ’til we’re old and gray.’”
His wife is among his most valued critics. When he’s on stage, she’ll tell him if his sound is off or if he’s pushing himself too hard and needs to take a break.
Last summer, he met former “American Idol” contestant Lee DeWyze. The pair played together at Wally’s House of Booze in Wenatchee. The experience shaped the way Franks connects emotionally to songs.
“Sometimes, when you play a song 57,000 times you kind of lose touch with it, but he was able to play a song and make you feel like he had played it for the first time for somebody he cared about,” Franks said.
Born and raised in Soap Lake, Franks started playing music at 8 and began his solo career five years ago. He gave life on the road a shot, but now he keeps closer to his roots.
“I’ve been trying to stay more local just because, when I first started out, I wanted to do this whole ‘let’s be famous thing’ and I traveled (from) Washington all the way to New York and did some tours. But now, I’m just staying local trying to make a business out of it as opposed to trying to be famous.”
He was touring through Pennsylvania, far away from his hometown of 1,500, when he realized how much he missed that small piece of Grant County. The longing for home inspired “If Dorothy can so can I.”
“This one is about me wanting to get out of Soap Lake but also remembering where my roots are kind of like how Dorothy wanted to get out of Kansas,” Franks said. “Then she gets out of Kansas and all she wants to do is go home.”
He continued, “For the most part, when I was on the road, I didn’t realize how lonely it would be; and then, that’s when I started writing ‘If Dorothy can so can I’ was when I was on the road. I realized I got out of Soap Lake but I kind of missed it.”
Franks is performing at a CD release show at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at RadarStation in Wenatchee. Later that night, he’ll also play at Wally’s House of Booze with special guests Devils Gulch & the Missionaries and Twin Skinny.
Follow Franks on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify by searching “Rylei Franks.”