When Mix Kitchen engineer Sam Fishkin heard about the concept for Fram oil filter’s Frampa campaign by Laughlin Constable, he figured that the audio should be “subtle” and “stay out of the way.”
But when composer Craig J. Snider got wind of the idea, he heard a “classic power trio with Les Paul guitars, bass and drums.”
They were both right.
“Laughlin Constable was looking for very particular music and sonic statement,” explains Fishkin. “You’ve got this very gritty, real guy, Jonathan Banks, and he is interrupted by a TV sitcom kind of goofiness.”
When he saw the rough cut, the humor immediately stood out, and he immediately knew to stay back.
“The writing was funny, and if you tried to overplay it, it got corny,” he continues. “But if you played it relatively straight, sonically, and left room for the humor, it worked.”
Based on his previous work with the agency, Fishkin knew that it wouldn’t take long to get the right sound. “They encourage exploration,” he says. “But they stay true to the script and the characters.”
In the end, he let most of the silence be and added a “little bit of Foley,” which he defines as “sound effects to motion, like footsteps,” where appropriate.
Composer Craig J. Snider’s contribution to the spot was pretty much the exact opposite.
“(Laughlin Constable VP/Producer) Phil Smith called and said, ‘we need a bona fide rock star,’” he says.
Although he is quick to add that, “Phil was joking,” the follow-up is only partially true.
At the time, Snider had just finished touring as keyboardist and vocalist for David Cassidy, the platinum-selling musician and actor who performed in sold-out stadiums throughout the 1970s and continues to draw a huge crowds in the 2010s.
He also recently finished a remix of Katy Perry’s Chained to the Rhythm that went to number one on the billboard dance chart.
Smith explained to Snider that each of the campaign’s four spots needed something “rockin’ and edgy” to punctuate the “Frampa” title at the beginning and the edgy slogan — “It’s the orange one, numnuts” — at the end.
“He said, ‘the guys really like that 80s hair band approach,’” Snider recalls. “So I had to put on my spandex pants and take it to 11.”
Layering “about ten vocal tracks” (roughly nine of which were his) over screaming guitars, bass and drums, he complemented the intentionally long stretches silence of with a punch of loudness.
“It had to be indigenous, like we lifted it from a record,” he says. “But it still had to serve the character.”
It also had to achieve the same “tricky” directive that Fishkin dealt with — “to make it not feel cheesy.”
Snider accomplished this by plugging in his Les Paul guitar.
“Les Pauls are solid body guitars with humbucker pickups, which have lost of sustain and girth,” he says.