Hi Francis, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’ve been great thanks – super busy! Lots going on and I’m really excited to get the album out there!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Today”?
Sure – that was the song that started the album process off really. It was written in the summer of 2013 and it actually started life as a poem. The song ‘Fade Away’ which I released last summer came just a few weeks after this so we’re going back to the very beginning with this one.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I’ve been a long-time attendee and sometimes host of an open mic night in Milton Keynes, or to be more specific Newport Pagnell called ‘The Sunset Lounge’. There were a few people who were coming down and playing slightly more politically motivated songs and this led me to writing what would become ‘Today’.
While it has got a few references to things that were going on around that time and continue to go on in the world the song takes a bit of a left turn in the middle 8 which then makes you reevaluate the true meaning of the song. It’s one of the more intelligent songs I think I have written.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
There isn’t a video for this song yet but I’ve been weighing up my ideas for visuals for this album. That’s a bit of a watch this space kind of situation…
The single comes off your new album Its Not About What It Means To You, Its What It Meant To Me – what’s the story behind the title?
Well, it is basically exactly what it says on the tin. There are a lot of themes and subject matters on this record that I think people can relate to – I hope there are things that people can relate to and that these songs will resonate with people. I’ve had my own relationship with these songs and their subject matter so I guess if it means anything at all, the title is respectful to my history with the music (‘Walk Away’ for example is over 10 years old) and then about letting them be free and mean what ever they are going to mean to anyone else.
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process happened very naturally over a long period of time. If I had managed to get the recording process to a place I was happy with it then that probably would have happened quicker and the album might look quite different to what it does now.
In total I wrote about 25/30 songs for the album and then picked the best ten. The songs nearly all started out on acoustic guitar or piano with the vocals/lyrics being written at the same time. Once they were written I would take them out and play them anywhere I could to road test them and see how they stood up. If I was playing in a pub, even doing a covers thing, I would just sneak them in there and gauge peoples reactions. The theory was – if I’m playing a bunch of pub covers of what are mostly some of the most famous and best songs of all time; if these songs stand up then I’m on the right track. I did that for a long time while I was working on the recording process. There are versions of some of the songs that were recorded at home and sound a bit more electronic, some that I recorded in a studio I worked in for a while – but ultimately things seemed to flow more when I started playing them with people. A large chunk of the album was recorded with 3 guys in a room playing drums, bass and acoustic guitar – I tracked the vocals at the same time too.
Other songs were tracked on the grid and I used a few sampled pianos and things but especially with the more acoustic based tracks it was all recorded live in a room and then the additional instruments were overdubbed later. I was really pleased with how it all worked out.
What role does Milton Keynes play in your music?
Home is where the heart is. Milton Keynes has been my absolute training ground. I don’t think there is a bar/pub/stage I haven’t played on numerous times in various guises over the years. I’m still a regular attendee of the Sunset Lounge, various jam nights – I have a good relationship with one of the larger Milton Keynes venues; MK11. No matter where I go I always seem to gravitate back to Milton Keynes.
The thing I love most about Milton Keynes to be honest is it’s lack of history. If I was from Liverpool, I would always feel like I was being compared to the Beatles, Sheffield; Arctic Monkeys etc. Now that’s not to say Milton Keynes hasn’t had some great bands come out of it; Capdown, Fell Silent, Monuments, Hactivist and there’s some great bands on the scene right now; massive shout out to ‘So So Sun’ but I feel with Milton Keynes unlike a lot of other places – you have the opportunity to write the history, not just be existing in it’s shadow. Living and playing in Dubai for the time I did was the same. It’s a great opportunity.
What aspect of war and life in general did you get to explore on this record?
I think the exploration of war is contained well and truly in the first 2/3’s of ‘Today’. If it’s asking anything, it’s simply asking why. Why are we doing this? Why are we fighting? Who are we fighting for? Who is gaining anything from this endeavor?
I ran into an old school friend a couple years ago and he was working for a large weapons manufacturer. Part of the conversation was him mentioning that the share price of said company was up – to which I responded ‘of course it is, we’re at war?’. When you start recognizing that people are getting rich, and not just rich – crazy rich, off the back of very normal and innocent peoples suffering, it just makes you question it all.
I think there is this idea that war was something that happened a long time ago and now just because it isn’t on our doorstep that it isn’t happening right now.
I guess that’s what ‘Today’ is about…
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Life. Just living. I think the themes of the album are quite general, things I have lived through that people can relate to. I guess if anything the album is just honest. There’s a lot of songs that didn’t make this record that could have painted a different picture or brought different emotions to the surface but I think the collection we have got here is right and I’m happy with the picture it paints.
Any plans to hit the road?
I think I’m always on the road? There’s a bunch of different bits on over the summer. I’m almost purposely keeping the touring side of the album promotion light. I think I’m ready to start working on new material and let these songs just be for everyone else now.
What else is happening next in Francis’ world?
Well I need to move house? I’ve been working with Andy our bass player on some interesting electronic ideas. Next is all about new music. Respect for what we’ve done, respect for what we’ve achieved but now it’s time to move forwards.
Hi Jenn and welcome to VENTS! How have you been? Hey! Thanks for having me. …