Franko Heke’s taking on the world in 2013.
The Kiwi rocker and unapologetic showman (he is after-all a descendant of Hone Heke) is working with US-based producer Jeff Silverman, who is remixing tracks from his solo album Vagabond, with a view to worldwide distribution.
He’s also locking in a release tour to Japan in March and has been invited to be part of the New Zealand Arts Team to compete at the World Arts Games in Croatia in late June.
The team is using one of Franko’s songs We Are One as its official anthem for the games.
‘‘I’m loving it, it’s starting to get really crazy,’’ Heke says. ‘‘That’s what rock’n’roll is all about. Last year was all about getting them music recorded and out there and creating a buzz. Now it’s about seeing where that buzz takes me.”
Someone who is already buzzing about Franko is Silverman, a Nashville-based producer who has worked with artists as diverse as Rick Springfield, Prince and George Clinton.
“They loved the record but strongly suggested I get it remixed and remastered for the world. I’m really enjoying working with Jeff because he understands that big American rock sound.
“I’m also looking at other options for distribution as well because it’s such a big call when you give the rights away to your jewel. Owning your own s**t is so important.
“I’m affiliated with Jay Rushton, who produces Steel Panthers. The band played on one of the songs on Vagabond – When I’m Gone – and when they toured New Zealand recently I supported them at the Powerstation in Auckland and we killed it. It was an amazing night.
“They have residencies at the House of Blues in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and we’ve talked about me going over there and doing so opening gigs for them, so I’m just seeing what kind of opportunities can come out of that relationship.”
The end of June will see Franko heading to Croatia as part of the New Zealand Arts Team.
“That’s a real cool double banger,” Franko says. “I’m really excited because I’m part Maori and part Italian, so I’m going to jump the ditch and explore my Italian heritage.
“I really love the rock’n’roll lifestyle. It comes out of making the decision to do what I want to do every minute of the day while also staying grounded. That’s why I am such a big fan of Guns N’ Roses phrase Use Your Illusion. In this day and age when you decide to do what you want to do, play what you want to and dress how you want to, you are in the minority because the majority seem to be more similar to each other.
"I want to stand out and am happy to put up with all of the bullshit that people throw my way. I ain’t going to be a mushroom, that’s for sure. If ya aint got no criticism you probably aint got no fans either.’’