A veteran music producer who has toured with some of the world’s biggest bands will help close a rock ’n’ roll exhibit at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock with his own behind-the-scenes peek at the industry.
Frank Munoz – who still works with “Enter Sandman” megagroup Metallica – will speak Friday evening at the Turlock art house as part of the “Carnegie ROCKS!” program. Munoz also has been coordinator of the “Carnegie ROCKS!” exhibit, made up of a private collection of instruments, costumes, video clips and rock paraphernalia. The hugely popular exhibit kicked off in May with appearances by rock stars including Ace Frehley of KISS, Night Ranger and members of the bands Cheap Trick and Lynch Mob. It closes Sunday.
Munoz will talk about the “ROCKS!” collection and share his personal industry experiences at the event, from studio sessions and on the road with bands and artists including Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Pink Floyd, The Cure and Frehley, who was the original lead guitarist for KISS.
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“After touring and working with artists for over 23 years, I’ve got stories from the incredibly bizarre to the most unglamorous situations one could ever imagine alongside legends,” Munoz said in an email interview about what the audience can expect at Friday’s program. “I’m going to concentrate on artists with (the) exhibit currently at The Carnegie Arts Center, so we can segue between the artist and the exhibit. There’s a mythology that the public has with rock ’n’ roll touring being like a three-ring circus. I may reveal The Wizard a bit on Friday.”
Based in the Bay Area, Munoz is a music and film producer, songwriter, screenwriter and photographer for his Frunkrock Productions. His career includes production collaborations with legends and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers such as Frehley (2009’s “Anomaly”) and Metallica’s Jason Newsted, who recorded his 2013 “Metal” EP at Turlock’s Creation Lab Studios, according to a press release.
Munoz has worked with Metallica for more than 17 years and continues to serve as the band’s personal assistant for its world tours and in the recording studio, as well as on projects with individual members.
Touring and working alongside such legends of hard rock definitely has changed over the years, he said.
“It is completely different! When I first started in the business, it wasn’t about the money. It was about the ‘experience’ of traveling around the world and, to be honest, partying,” Munoz said. “These days, the after-show parties are almost completely nonexistent and the only ‘girls’ backstage are the band wives and their children. Rock ’n’ roll, in my opinion, has become very ‘PG.’ It’s safe, the danger of rock ’n’ roll is gone.”
Yet classic rock continues to endure, with many of the bands and artists still performing to huge audiences. That’s a testament, he believes, to the quality of their songs.
“It’s incredible how some ‘classic’ artists like Journey, Foreigner and Queen can still pack arenas all over the world without their original lead singers,” he said. “The fans want to hear the songs. When 15,000 people sing along to ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, I don’t see anybody upset that the person belting it out is not Steve Perry. In the end, the songs are what matter.”
But those groups can’t tour forever, something Munoz foresees as the possible demise of the genre.
“Unfortunately, I believe today’s rock industry, especially the touring side, is on its last legs. The biggest artists still packing (crowds) in are all on the endangered species list Paul McCartney, U2, The Rolling Stones, KISS, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, etc.,” he said. “When these guys retire, tell me who’s going to take their place?”
The “Carnegie ROCKS!” exhibit has been evidence of that enduring popularity of classic rock, with more than 800 people visiting to view the displays, according to the arts center’s Interim Director Lisa McDermott.
“Public response has been overwhelmingly positive; we’ve had many visitors who had not been to the Carnegie previously, so including a show like ‘Carnegie ROCKS!’ is valuable in expanding our audience,” McDermott said in an email. “According to our volunteers and staff, people have spent more time in the gallery per visit than for other shows. The listening stations and videos have made it a real ‘full immersion’ kind of experience that guests enjoy.”
The star-studded opening night reception alone raised $35,000 for the Carnegie, the most ever brought in for a single event there, she added.
Munoz looks to end the exhibit on a high note – and with the fans in mind.
“As the exhibit comes to a close this weekend, I see my Friday appearance as a celebration of an incredibly successful run in Turlock,” he said. “If any music fans want to ask questions or just chat, I see no better place to do it than being surrounded by genuine pieces of rock ’n’ roll history.”
And what a history those pieces have, he said.
“I think it’s important for a new generation to learn about the path and history of hard rock and heavy metal,” he said, “but if those guitars, costumes and drum kits could talk oh, man, the stories!”