Back in March, longtime Southampton Post Office employee and Southampton resident Frank Cuzzola allowed us to share a video of him performing “Beth” by KISS, and it was no surprise locals were flabbergasted by his hidden talent. A dedicated husband and father, and beloved by almost everyone who encounters him at his job, Cuzzola could be described as kind, helpful and relatively quiet, so hearing him belt out a classic rock tune was, for many, a revelation about this man behind the counter.
Now Cuzzola is showing off not only his magnetic talent as a performer, but also as a songwriter and lyricist, with his original song “Love-n-Tears,” which he recently released via YouTube. Watch the video of Cuzzola performing his song below, then read our interview to get more insight into the always surprising musician at your local post office.
Tell me about the song. Is it new or did you just decide to perform it on YouTube?
“Love-n-Tears” was written in 1993 and was inspired by a friend whose relationship had recently ended.
How long have you been making music? Can you tell me about your past bands or solo efforts?
I started my first band when I was 15 years old. During the process of learning our instruments and finding a sound, I found other bands to sing with, usually musicians who were much older than I, who I could learn from and take that experience back to my group. At 18, I played my first professional gig at a club called Sundance. After 10 years of doing this, the band finally called it quits and I started to perform solo, mainly to still have an outlet for all my originals I had written over the years.
When did you move to the East End? And from where? What drew you here?
My parents moved our family from Brooklyn back in the mid ‘70s. We had some relatives already make the jump here from the city to Long Island.
How long have you been at the Post Office?
I have been working for the Southampton Post Office since 2002. I’ve been here so long a coworker refers to it as “Frankhampton” Post Office. Customers have become like family to me. I try to treat everyone with the same respect—whether I’ve known you for years or you’re new to the area, I want to make sure people have the best experience and leave confident knowing they were provided with great customer service.
I know customers love you over there. But I think many were surprised to see your hidden talent when we released your “Beth” performance. Your vocals are quite theatrical. How do you explain your soft-spoken demeanor vs. you as performer? Would old friends say the same, or do they know you as someone different than how customers see at your job?
I try to be consistent as a person and peaceful in my approach toward others, no matter what I’m doing. My job definitely provided me with verbal communication with people that I rarely sought. It always felt more natural to me to express myself on paper. When I was 9 years old I started writing movie scripts and short comedy shows. I eventually moved on to poetry and songwriting. My parents were always amazed how I was able to open up more while I was on stage compared to being the boy they raised. I also took acting classes to help me try unlocking my full potential as a person and performer. I believe my friends who’ve known me for years would say I grew as a person who graciously gives encouragement and wants to put others ahead of himself. Starting with my wife Gina and our smart, talented daughter Alyssa. Nothing once upon a time was more important than music, till they both entered my life.
Are these videos marking a recent return to music for you, or are you always playing and writing?
I am astonished how many people were reached and responded to the “Beth” video. Social media has become a way of expanding your art to places you could only imagine. I have never stopped writing and playing, and I’m happy to finally step on the platform to be heard all over the world.
Do you write a lot of original music? Who are your biggest influences?
I have been writing songs since I had my first band. Inspiration usually comes at the most inopportune times, like when I am driving to work, or in the middle of the night I’ll wake up with a melody or idea. It sounds very cliché, but I am a huge Beatles fan. I used to stay up all night with the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band CD on repeat. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, early KISS. The more my songwriting matured, the more I loved and respected all the folk singer-songwriters: John Denver, Jim Croce, Bob Dylan—music that speaks to your soul. Songs that you could still discover something new in, even after hearing them a thousand times.
Do you have plans to put together a recording or to play out at any time?
I released two CDs: Small Voices in 1997 and The Court Jester’s Son in 2000. I do have more than enough material for future recordings. After years of gigging, I wouldn’t rule out playing live again. But at this moment in time, I’m really getting a thrill reaching people through Facebook and YouTube. I also wouldn’t rule out putting a new band together, as long as the vision is pointed in the direction of the path I see myself walking at this moment of my journey.
Keep an eye out for future Frank Cuzzola performances right here on DansPapers.com, or on his YouTube account: Sing all day.