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"We don't keep it serious, we keep it funky"
Fort Wayne’s own Third Frame
By Ben Larson
Fort Wayne Reader
“If we don’t always have something in the bag, I feel like we’re slipping,” Ryan Messmann, of local hip-hop group Third Frame, told me when I sat down with him and Derek Quandt the other night. Over the past decade, Messmann and Quandt have released an album every two years, like clockwork. First was their eponymous debut in 2000, followed by 2002’s Absorb the Orb, 2004’s Roped Off Section, 2006’s Frame of Mind, and 2008’s Yum Yum. In keeping with that pattern, Third Frame will be releasing a new, as-yet untitled album near the end of this summer. Before that, though, they will release a greatest hits album, titled Cumulonimbus, next month (exact date for this is TBA), which will include 9 previously released tracks, 9 until now unreleased versions of past songs, and a DVD (a very rare thing for any local group).
Third Frame first got together in the late 90’s, when Quandt and Messmann were high school classmates at Concordia. Since then, they have had the good fortune to share the stage with such heavies as Snoop Dogg, Nelly, DMX, and will be opening up for Method Man and Redman at Piere’s on May 29th. Also, they have worked with 2-Live Crew’s DJ, Mr. Mix, several times, and still work with him at least once a year now. “He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” said Messmann. Mr. Mix will be actually be in town for Third Frame’s June 5th show at Kaysan’s, the same week that a VH1 special on him will air.
Anyway, on to Third Frame’s music. “If you listen to all the records,” said Quandt, “there’s several different themes that you’ll find. The first one is pot, which is constantly talked about. And also there’s just having fun, you know, going to house parties and making the most of it.” In other words, Quandt and Messmann don’t try and put on a hard core image. They like to have fun, and they want their music to reflect that. In that sense, they are more in line with old-schoolers like Grandmaster Flash than with ‘Lil Wayne (and I mean that as a compliment). Not that their music sounds old-school. It definitely doesn’t. I just mean that they approach their music with the same kind of positive mentality that was much more prominent back then (and obviously is still around. It’s just been relegated to the underground scene). They also reflect that in the mentality they have toward each other when they are performing. “It’s not two guys, you know, trying to get their shots in when they can,” said Messmann. “We’re not two guys rapping,” added Quandt. “We’re two guys working together to make a song.” Messmann finished that thought up by saying “I don’t care if it’s him using one of my lines, or vice versa, as long as it makes the song better.” That kind of music takes chemistry, and chemistry is one thing Third Frame definitely has going for them. They just work well together as a team, and both agreed that they couldn’t even imagine rapping with someone else.
A testament to how well Quandt and Messmann work together came in the form of a recent trip to Hollywood, where Third Frame scored second place in a battle out of dozens of acts from Hollywood, Compton, and all over the L.A. area. Not bad for a couple of regular guys from Fort Wayne. “They want us back, too,” said Messmann.
What’s the secret to Third Frame’s longevity? Well, there’s a lot that goes into it. “We’ve been best friends since high school,” said Quandt, so there’s that. Also, they try to do something new every time they go into the studio, so that each album that comes out sounds as fresh as the one before. So there’s that as well. Also, they keep it fun. Both Messmann and Quandt said to me, at different times during the interview, “as soon as it stops being fun, that’s when we’ll stop doing it.”
Then there’s the fans. “We have the greatest fans in the world,” said Quandt, and its true. Having worked in a record store for a number of years, I see Third Frame fans pretty frequently, and there’s no doubt that they love Quandt and Messmann. What other band can arrange a get together with the fans with 3 days notice (not a performance, just a get together), and actually have a really good turnout? No other local band that I’ve seen. Plus, it’s just good, fun music. I defy anyone to put on a Third Frame CD and not find something in it that appeals to them, whether or not you like hip-hop.
So what else is on slate for Third Frame in the near future? Aside from all the things I already mentioned, Quandt and Messmann will be playing nearly every weekend between now and July, including shows at Legends on 5/15, 4D’s on 5/22, 6/5 at Kaysan’s 5th Down (with Mr. Mix), 6/12 at Bill’s City Grill, and on 6/26 will have their first ever show at Wrigley Field. They are great guys and a great group, so go have some fun and check them out.