November 11, 2017: Late this April, Baz Francis released his first solo studio album “Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks” followed by his album “Trainwrecks In The Desert / Giza 2017” – a live album he recorded while on the road in Egypt. We were able to speak to him about his music, his world tour, and what’s in store for the future.
Earlier this year, you released your first solo studio album, “Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks”. What’s your favorite song off of the album? If different from the previous answer, what’s your favorite song to perform live? How did you come up with the name for your album?
I can only ever really talk about which song off a record of mine is my favourite on that particular day, and even then, that might change by noon! Today my favourite song off ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’ is probably ‘Darken My Door’, but this last week I’ve particularly enjoyed getting to perform ‘Bird On The Wire’ for the first time on the piano out in the US (first at an in-store appearance in San Francisco and then at a gig further north in Marin County). As for the album title; see my face in the photos from the album’s booklet and you’ll have your answer!
You are in Magic Eight Ball and have your solo project.
Do you have a different writing process when it comes to creating music for the band than for your solo project?
The way in which I write any music is always geared towards the project at hand with a mind to how the music will be recorded, with whom, and how it will then be performed live thereafter. Approaching writing rock music for a band obviously requires a certain mindset to be entered, different to say writing a folky acoustic track, but the places from which I get my inspiration and the tools that I use to bring it to life (both physical and mental) are not too dissimilar from one another.
How do you come up with the ideas for your music videos?
Much like my songwriting process, my initial video concepts for my songs are born out of what is appropriate for the track in question. I always try and inject an element of humour and fun into mine and the band’s videos without detracting from the sincerity of my delivery of the music in the process. Usually I go out for an evening run around release dates and entertain myself with situations I think it would be fun to put myself within onscreen for people to enjoy, even if I have to suffer in the process first!
Who are your musical influences?
My favourite songwriter and musician will always be Freddie Mercury, but I class Marvin Gaye as my first musical love and the Manic Street Preachers as my gateway to loving rock and the most noticeable influence on my own musical style too. Brian May was my first guitar hero as a kid and remains my favourite guitarist and a constant source of melodic inspiration, whereas live I consider Axl Rose as my top performer and the bench mark for what a compelling showman should be.
Who would you want to collaborate with in the future?
I have been so lucky to have worked with an array of geniuses and artistic heroes of mine, so I’ve been kind of spoilt in that regard! I’d love to work with the guys from Blind Melon, record with Robby Valentine again, and have Brian May guest on one of my albums, but as long as the focus is always on me doing what I do as best as I can first and foremost, then what will be will be when it comes to being blessed by the company of others’ brilliance.
You’ve gotten to perform in many cities across the globe on this tour.
What was your favorite city to visit? What was your favorite city to perform in?
Well I first played in LA back in 2008 and stayed with my musical host on that trip (my darling Heather Hyland), and now I live in the city, so I guess Hollywood left quite the impression on me! As for favourite countries and cities; it is too hard to credit one with being ‘the place’, and some of my favourite locations don’t necessarily have big music scenes. I just judge each show, wherever it may be, upon the people and experiences I have there, knowing full well that that could vary greatly in the same place the very next night.
Getting to play in front of one of my best friends Veera Sydänmaanlakka in her hometown of Helsinki back in May meant so much to me on a personal level, for example, and bringing my Mum to see me play in the Faroe Islands last year was also as good a reason for me to tour as I can think of. As for my old friend and new ‘neighbour’ Heather, well she is basically a total warrior of a woman and still one of my dearest friends. Her and another gorgeous pal of ours Lindsey Patterson have made Los Angeles feel like the best place for me to play right now, as no matter how the show goes, I still get to end my day in the place they have helped make my home for now.
Those human connections are what it’s all about for me, and I’m so proud of someone like Heather too for not just being the awesome parent that she has become, but also for the amazing work she has been doing as a naturalist at El Dorado Nature Center and Regional Park in Long Beach, CA.
Please do check out hers and the El Dorado team’s outstanding contributions to the environment here if you get a chance: www.facebook.com/FriendsofElDoradoNatureCenter
What’s next for Baz Francis?
I have some more Californian dates and one Mexican show too that will carry me through into 2018 and see the end of the ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’ World Tour sometime in February, I reckon. The remaining confirmed shows so far are:
November 17 – The Venice Beach Bar / Venice Beach, USA
November 24 – The Black Watch Pub / Upland, USA
December 7 – Rae’s Concert Bar / Tijuana, Mexico
December 8 – Cafe-Bar Europa / San Diego, USA
December 9 – The Salty Frog / Imperial Beach, USA
December 21 – TR!P / Santa Monica, USA
January 9 – Republic of Pie, North Hollywood, USA
I am also currently recording an album with my newly revived first band Mansion Harlots alongside Will Gray of the awesome Atlantic Fire back in the UK, so you can listen to those guys here: www.facebook.com/atlanticfireuk and imagine what mine and Will’s work together sounds like until that gets released sometime around March 2018 I hope (alongside live dates for us back in Europe)!