After watching Francis Lung at the Deaf Institute, I was lucky enough to talk to them about their songwriting and recording process. What I immediately noticed from the band, was their active effort to talk to everyone with genuine interest and enthusiasm.
Francis Lung Performing at The Deaf Institute. Image by @throughtheeyesofruby
Their gig etiquette is absolutely on-point, even down to having matching outfits on stage. The band definitely put on an entire gig ‘experience’ and seeing them live gave such a huge insight to the chemistry of the band, but also elevated our understanding of the pieces. There are also heighted elements, for example the violinist, who added intricate and soulful elements in all of the pieces they played in. The chemistry of the band is nicely shown in their most recent recorded live set for Low Four.
Conversation mainly surrounded their latest album ‘Miracle’ and how it is extremely thought-provoking for the listener, as the album pulls from a previously established pallet of themes and ideas. The changing context of musical themes plays on the listener’s expectation of how a song can usually progress. This is done by connecting up the different keys in inventive ways that satisfy the listener’s ear, but also creates new musical ideas. This is usually found through improvisation in the writing stages, where Tom McClung starts out by experimenting and improvising on a range of different instruments.
Most parts to the songs are already written by the time the band gets into the studio. Which obviously leaves a lot of room to establish and create intention within the songs, and to focus on getting a deep and rich sound. For context, Tom has been in the music scene and creating music for quite some time, way before the band was ever formed. A notable previous project being a band called ‘Wu Lyf’, listening to this band and other previous projects, gives the ability to more deeply comprehend the journey that Tom has been on in their writing, and it’s extremely interesting to hear this develop and change into new projects and ideas over time.
However now focussing on Francis Lung’s newest work, the latest album was recorded in a residential areas in Wales and with little room for any external influence, there are few arguably unconventional and hugely creative recording techniques. For example in ‘Bad Hair Day’, when the lyrics reference a door slamming, the band recorded the sound of a door slamming - despite the fact Tom vocalised the possibility that people might not really hear this on their first time listening, it creates intention, which if felt throughout the entire album.
Another practical technique that was used was in the song ‘Comedown (again)’, where in order to convey emotional impact, the band recorded the reverb ‘wave’ of knocking an amp over. The band also used contact microphones, in particular in the song ‘Say So’, where they recorded an electric guitar with a hollow body, then only used the sound from the contact microphone that picked up the vibration from the surface of the guitar. This not only invites the listener to think about a conventional guitar sound in a different way, but also gets them to re-visit to song multiple times to ‘figure out’ what exactly that guitar sound is.
Ultimately, there is a huge focus on texture within the entire Album, and through a combination of different recording techniques, this is extremely well executed. When Tom writes, he is mainly inspired by what he is currently listening to, and the notion of ‘a simple idea being pulled off well’, a notable example being ‘Everything’s for Sale’ by Juliana Hatfield.
That being said, Tom also tackles philosophical themes about identity, and how external change can be an attempt for internal change in ‘Blondes Have More Fun’. Francis Lung provides an exciting investigation into pace and texture in their music, and I encourage anyone who is interested in this type writing and production to check them out as soon as possible.