Posted on January 22nd, 2019
[as seen on Austin Town Hall]
Over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten to know Dan Francia’s new Come Back to Life album pretty well; I’ve written about several of the tracks on the site, hoping you’d take a listen. Well, even better is we reached to Dan with a few questions and he kindly took the time to respond. Plus! You can stream the entirety of Come Back to Life below.
ATH: 2019 just started off…what’s in store this year for Dan Francia, person or musician or both?
Dan: I’m not particularly sure what’s up this year. I just got a promotion at my job. I’ve also been thinking about moving to NJ though. Anything is possible.
Musically, I’ll try and book Dan Francia Band shows here and there. I’m looking forward to finding my new musical direction. The album I just made had 37 guest artists and that swayed a lot of what happened. I had to let it become its own collaborative thing. Also, it’s been done for over 7 months, but only now that it’s being released do I feel like I can take my next steps. The next album may be truly solo. Just me. Scary technical. That’s what I’m thinking as an option anyway… But I may go down the road of meditative music, or any other road. I think I’ll just start creating with no objective until I find a rabbit hole I’m excited about. I’ll definitely be taking my time.
You know, something I’ve tried to share with others, but you gotta learn on your own is, “your music life is not your real life.” I’ve been doing music shit for over 20 years. I’ve accomplished everything I’ve ever dreamed of, but that does not show monetarily. I’m still paying off loans from old albums, including the one Im releasing now. So it’s all about the balance between personal life and music, and I still don’t get it. Obviously, I wish I had more time for music, but you do what you can. It’s more important to take care of yourself and the people around you. I don’t think I’m gonna save the world with music anymore.
I’m in a band called Janitor, we are mixing our first album now, so that should be out sometime in 2019.
I’m in my girlfriend’s band, gobbinjr. She makes her albums by herself. She plays all the instruments, engineers, mixes, etc.. But she’s trying a new thing with the next album… Maybe I shouldn’t say all that much about it here though… I should be recording some bass on that record this year too, let’s say.
And you can find me slipping into random bands at times. For example, I’m playing a one-off gig with the band Maneka on Feb 9th. They need a bass player for one show. I might be in the band Stove right now, I have no idea actually. I had to turn down dream tours and shows in 2018 playing in some of my favorite bands like Maneka, Lost Boy?, and Stove. So who knows what job I’ll have or what bands I’ll be able to do in 2019. If the venue Shea Stadium (Brooklyn) comes back, I’ll most likely quit my job again, and go back to doing sound there. I’m 30 years old, so I’m a little more careful with life decisions. I’ve quit jobs for bands and all kinds of dumb shit in the past. I’ll definitely always be making music regardless.
ATH: In writing the album, did you write the songs knowing you’d need friends involved?
Dan: I knew I was going to embark on a “guest artist” album. That was the initial direction I had. I love Mike Watt. He’s my hero if I had one. His first solo album was all guests too. I was certainly conscious of this, but it didn’t affect my album really. I didn’t need anyone, but they all made it much, much better. I probably needed drummers actually. That’s the hardest instrument for me. I did know who I really wanted though, and they all said yes. These are people I love and respect both musically and personally.
ATH: In working with your friends, were you bandleader or was there plenty of leftover room for improvisation?
Dan: Most people who played on the album had no direction. Most of them had never heard any of the music until they came over to record. A lot of what was recorded wasn't used. I could make a whole other version of the album with a ton more shit on it. Remixes etc. Then there were times when I assigned people stuff. Like, hey, do you want to play bass on this track? Or, I need a really outlandish guitar in just this section, are you down? It was a mix of a lot, a lot, a lot of different shit. Lots of funny sessions in my bedroom. Its uncomfortable telling people what to do, so that happened as little as possible. A few people recorded on their own and I wasn't even there. In the end, it was just me drawing from these sessions and following my heart and my ears. It got to a point where the blank spots revealed themselves and I either filled them in or asked someone else to.
ATH: Some of the songs feel almost like they’re sonic explorations/collaborations (i.e. Ghost Stories). How did you balance those tracks with the more pop-centric ones? Any strategy to their placement in the record?
Dan: The hardest part of this interview is keeping it concise. I have a lot of theories and nonsense that went into this album. There were 3 other good songs that didn't make the album. Placement played a huge role in what songs could stick around. I had to have at least a song, or two, where I was the singer. That seemed right for my debut solo album. So those two tracks stayed. The other song types, if you will, were just other ideas I was working on. I dropped one of the hard songs I had, my anti-Trump track Kill The Clown. It didn't feel right on the album for a few reasons. The sequence had to flow like a story. So yeah, I had to figure out how to intertwine the singy songs with the more instrumental ones.
Funny that you mention Ghost Stories though.. that was the only song I had a particular direction before I started writing. The rest of the album had the basic tracks recorded at that point. While looking at what I had so far, I decided I needed a long, through-composed, sorta wild, track that would start side b, and then I could be done writing. So, we made that happen. That was the last thing I wrote and I knew where it would be in the album and what purpose it would serve. That was the one song I really wrote with someone else from scratch. Other people have co-writing credits, but that song was Jordyn Blakely and I starting from square one. That was definitely more of an exploration of sound! Most of that song came from complete improv, from the first night we got together to write. People have told me there are a lot of different styles on the album, yet the album has a vibe to it. Every musician listens to plenty of styles. Most people just don't have the time to represent all of their interests. Sometimes I wanna make an album like Korn and sometimes I wanna make an album like Yoko. Actually, those two are probably horrible examples because they both have a huge range in the types of albums they’ve created.
ATH: How does the spoken-word tune at the end fit the album’s narrative…in your words?
Dan: Great questions! I was very close to omitting the spoken word while keeping the rest of that track. Its just something I tried and found to be lovely. It is also a nice ending to an album of ups and downs. Its the final message. Something like, Woooow life is fucked up, but we can do better, and we should strive for better.
ATH: You own your taco shop…what ingredients are on Dan’s tacos? Is it called Dan’s Tacos?
Dan: Yes, its called Dans Tacos. You can get whatever you want at Dans Tacos. Theres a special; one veggie taco, one chicken taco, and a small side of rice and beans.