Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bands on the Rise: Francis 7 Full Interview

Francis 7 is a local band specializing in the sort of post-punk sound that Miami's music scene is sorely in need of. With a sound that evokes the haunting guitar textures of bands like Joy Division and The Cocteau Twins, Francis 7 manages to conjure up hazy walls of guitar in which you could (and should) get lost. This week I caught up with Omar 7 who plays guitar and sings for the group. If you want to find out more about Francis 7, check out

HM/VJ: How did you guys all meet and what made you want to start the band? Who's in the band and how many members are you?

O7: I started the band because I was playing in other bands, other types of music, and this was the music I really wanted to do. I'd written and recorded a bunch of songs by myself and I decided I wanted to form a real band so I went out searching...

Trey, our guitarist, I met at school (MDC). We had a recording class together. From the moment we met, he hated me, and we've been friends ever since. Jonny, bass, is like a family member and I kind of watched him grow up, all the while forcing him to listen to good music! Raph, drums, is Jonny's high school buddy and after years of searching for a drummer we realized we hadn't thought of him. Omar, myself (vocals and guitar), I find myself generally lacking!

HM/VJ: What bands or other artists have been big inspirations on your sound? I sense this early Factory Records vibe and a bit of British shoegazing in your music as well.

O7: You're quite right. When we started, we were far more shoegaze-y, but my real love is early 80's post punk. My favorite band is the Chameleons, and I think they have been my biggest influence. I think the earlier shoegaze stuff we did was cool but I wanted to be more song-oriented, and I think we didn't find "our" sound until I focused more on songwriting and less on atmospherics. I'm real into the intensity of those bands, like the Chameleons and Killing Joke and early U2. They were also quite political and socially aware.

HM/VJ: Generally, what is the song writing process like? Does someone bring in a song that's already done or do you guys jam and find songs during practice? Who writes all the music?

O7: Well, I usually bring in the songs and teach the guys the parts. I write the whole song and record it at home on my Pro Tools rig and then we go over it. It's not entirely un-democratic, though, as the guys have changed quite a few things over time, and I trust them more and more every day and give them leeway. We're a real band. Trey likes to change things and thinks he sneaks them by me. He's wrong though, but it's usually a good change so I don't say anything!

HM/VJ: How long and how often have you played live? Do you have any gigs lined up at the moment? Are there regular fans at your gigs?

O7: We've been playing live for a couple of years. The local scene is very difficult. Not a lot of places to play, and some of the promoters are downright shady. We're in the process of finishing the album so we haven't been playing much, but we will soon. I for one love to play shows.

HM/VJ: What is the strangest moment you've ever had on stage/as a band?

O7: That's a tough one. I'd say there's a plurality of strange moments when we're on stage! Watching Mark Burgess of the Chameleons dancing to one of our songs certainly was the most surreal. I don't know- usually it's the "angry" or "Bono" moments that happen on a regular basis that are quite strange! Did I mention that I have a habit of bashing myself with microphones quite often?

HM/VJ: For the band, what's the favorite song to play live?

O7: I think we'd all agree it's "I Would." It's our most intense song, I think, and it really has become the band's song, very different from the demo I brought them. We own that song.

HM/VJ: Are you guys recording any music for release? Personally it would be cool to be able to listen to 'I Can't Feel My Heart Anymore' anytime.

O7: Well, thanks a lot. Yeah, we're finishing up our album- doing vocals right now, and then it's mixing time and Ulrich Schnauss is doing a re-mix for us as well, which I'm really excited about. We've re-recorded the songs like "heart" and we did it to capture the live sound of the band, which I think is more up-front. I hope we succeeded.

No album title yet but we're really looking forward to finally finishing it. We've had a lot of delays and snags and I just want it done and out there.

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