Hanging Francis
By Ronnie

In our continuing effort to cover local Atlanta bands, this month we feature Hanging Francis. This power-pop-punk quartet has one of the best "should be a hit" singles that I've heard this year - the song, "Glamorous". I talked to John (lead vocalist) between the band's constant, on-the-road-again treks...

E.C.: First off, give me a short, readers digest version of the band. How did the band get to where it is? How long have you been together, etc.?

John: I formed the band with some guys I went to college with at Emory when none of us could play -we rehearsed our sonic youth type noise in the basement of an art gallery in Buckhead and set shit on fire and beat on sheet metal and yelled a lot. We began writing simple songs and I slowly learned myself guitar chords and started firing guys who didn't want to be rock stars and hiring actual musicians who did! The drummer & I have been working together the longest and he can actually write songs as well! We met the Guitarist, Brett thru our friends HOLLYFAITH - an Atlanta band on Epic Records who we played with alot.

We did a self released record at Furies Studios which took us to the NE on a couple of tours and we went to California for about 3 weeks of shows where we ripped up the Whiskey and other hot shit Hollywood clubs. We started working on another CD at DARP Studios with an engineer from there on the studios downtime ( like early AM sessions and shit) and when we finished the record Dallas Austin decided to offer us a deal on his ROWDY/CRASH label- so we re-cut the entire CD and did other songs as well but we still couldn't get time booked in the studio cuz they always had TLC or Boyz II Men or some other R&B star that knocked us out of the way in there. So we never actually got to mix the record and when Dallas Austin's label merger with Volcano Entertainment went south, we got lost in the shuffle and our CD never saw the light of day. We got out with the tapes and a new van (the beautiful and talented Gladys Francesca) and much wiser for the experience. The bass player at the time (JB now of Blacklight Posterboys) had some family tragedies at this time and had to bow out of the picture as well.

So armed with a big batch of punk ass power pop songs we conned Ray (x-collective soul) into joining up on BASS and set out to make another record with our good pal Palmer Wood (shameless plug for Disc One Duplication here). We recorded in bank vaults, closets, living & dining rooms of Atlanta--- mixed it with Rusty Cobb at Nickel & Dime Studios--- and mastered it with Glenn Schick at Exocet. None of this CD would be possible without the help of the Dufries family and especially our executive producer and future harmonica soloist Courtney "the taxman" Dufries!!! This record is receiving commercial airplay in over 25 cities on the east coast and is getting a great response. HF is presently touring the east coast in support and should be setting out for the NE including NYC & Boston & DC, etc in mid-July. Recent NE tours have had sightings of Hole members at one showcase and other celebrities like Milla Jovovich as well as renowned producer Bryce Goggin and unnamed record execs.

E.C.: Your press release mentions that "Changes" was a follow up to your Rowdy Records release?

John: They never released it.

E.C.: What other recordings does Hanging Francis have out?

John: One self released record 1995 which sold great locally but is now extremely difficult to find and considered a collector's item.

E.C.: Was "Changes" a natural progression from the band's previous recordings?

John: This is actually the 4th record we have made but the 2nd to be released so if you could here the other 2 then yes, it seems a natural progression but we are only getting better and better.

E.C.: Not being on a major label, how did you finance "Changes"?

John: Courtney Dufries -our exec producer loaned us the $ and we did this record for a record low dollar amount and it sounds pretty fantastic considering!

E.C.: I imagine that you guys all have some sort of day or part-time jobs (until that major label deal)?

John: Yes Randall & Brett are waiters. Ray is a computer network administrator and I am the fastest bartender East of the pecos.

E.C.: You've been described as "77-era Clash fronted by the Replacements Paul Westerberg". Actually, what comes to my mind when I hear "Changes" is a harder version of the Plimsouls and the Romantics. Did these groups influence you at all?

John: My first date ever was with this girl Janelle Westbrook - we went to see Valley Girl and I've been hooked on the Plimsouls ever since. I saw Romantics open for the Alarm a coupla times and thought they were ok but a little too cheesy- we do however cover "talkin in yer sleep" at the end of a long set when we are feeling aforementioned cheese factor.

E.C.: Some of the bands you have opened for include the Smashing Pumpkins, Hoodoo Gurus, Juliana Hatfield and the Black Crowes. How often is Hanging Francis on the road and where is the furthest a tour has taken you?

John: We travel somewhere every month - mostly around the SE but we go up north to NYC and other cities every couple months and we have been as far as California west and Maine up north.

E.C.: A little Howard Stern type question-what's the groupie situation these days for an up and coming rock band such as Hanging Francis?

John: Teenage girls flock to us like mendicant pilgrims to the leaning tower of Pisa. I actually signed a few with a magic marker in one town a few weeks ago!!!

E.C.: Power-pop has seemed to be the one form of rock and roll that always comes back. I mean, you've had a resurgence in power pop every decade since the 60's. Why do you think that is so?

John: Everybody needs a good song to sing in the shower , to drive to and to make out to , even to cook dinner to.

E.C.: Why is power-pop so appealing to you?

John: (with air guitar):WE WANNA ROCK, WE WANT TO ROCK but we also want to lick behind your ears and stick in your head and make you wake up singing our songs.

E.C.: Who does most of the songwriting?

John: I write most of the lyrics but we ALL contribute to the music and arrangement of the songs.

E.C.: Who is the kid on the cover of the "Changes" CD and what does the cover mean?

John: Sean Elvis McLanahan-he is our old bass player's kid. I was taking pics of Sean and thought he would look cool with a silver bass a silver shirt & silver shades standing on the surface of the silver moon so its really just an artistic whim and doesn't mean a thing except Sean is pretty happy about being "famous".

E.C.: Is that Spanish on the chorus of "Glamorous"?

John: "Mi Vida Loca" which means "my crazy life" in Spanish.

E.C.: What does the name "Hanging Francis" mean?

John: Its a metaphor for something extreme and maybe unnecessary-like hanging yourself to get off harder---sometimes we will see something or hear a news story and go "thats hanging francis" like when the gov't subsidizes farmers to burn their crops when people are going hungry, or like a lot of those "News of the Weird" items, or like when that fraternity kid got drunk and drowned in a kiddie pool, know what I mean?

E.C.: What is the future of rock and roll?

John: As always a decadent cathartic excessive binge related papparazzi death --- corporate rock is strangling the creative efforts of bands that don't want to be an instant million seller that sounds just like Britney or N'sync, but good songs will hopefully seep thru the cracks in the system and allow bands like us to get heard by the masses and some of them will be hooked!!!

E.C.: Finally (and most important), what does Hanging Francis have to offer that makes it stand out in this seemingly endless sea of new bands?

John: We have energetic guitar driven songs with good melodies and stick in your head hooks that will make for many instant replays in your brain - and we are original - we don't write songs that are revamped versions of other peoples shit!!! We also can back it up live and we don't need a bunch of machines to play along with us to make us sound good! We are also incredibly sexy.

Click here to visit the official Hanging Francis website