MUSIC: Interview with Rough Francis’ Bobby Hackney Jr.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Rob Duguay: Before we start talking about the show at The Columbus Theatre tonight, let’s do a before & after of Rough Francis. What was life like for you before you found out your father was the lead singer & bassist of one of the earliest punk bands ever with Death and how has life been ever since the rediscovery of your dad’s band?
Bobby Hackney Jr.: I got introduced to punk rock when I was about 15 years old . I started hanging out with all the punk kids and I got into skateboarding, then a friend of mine made me a mixtape with Black Flag, Fugazi, Minor Threat and all of these other bands. I got into punk that way and I was also a musician at the time playing with my friends in various bands doing covers and stuff like that. I then started going to shows and I really got into it, soon afterwards my younger brothers were getting into punk rock through me and all three of us were musicians while listening to punk rock. One time my father after hearing some of my band’s songs said, “You know this kind of reminds me of the stuff me and your uncle did when were kids” and I was like “Yeah right Dad”. Once we discovered the Death music we were just blown away because we really had no idea that our father & uncles were playing music like that. We only knew our dad and uncle Dannis as reggae musicians because we grew up around Lambsbread and the reggae thing and when we heard all the rock & roll they did it was mind-blowing.
R.D.: I can imagine when you find out that your dad who you thought was a reggae rasta musician all of a sudden in the 70’s was doing all of this punk stuff that nobody was really doing at the time had to be a huge surprise.
B.H.: It was really funny because as I got older my musical taste got a little finer, I didn’t really hear The Stooges and The MC5 until I got into my early 20s so if you told me when I was super young I probably wouldn’t have understood it quite yet. I didn’t find out about Death until I was in my early 30s and my brother Julian was in his early 20s and my brother Urian was in his late teens. I think it’s kind of one of those things when time had to take it’s course for us to understand what this really was, and after that once we were old enough we understood fully and helped bring it to the surface.
R.D.: One day you just find out after listening to a Fugazi record then you hear about this EP only to find out that it’s your dad and your uncles playing punk rock, such an amazing story. As I mentioned earlier, tonight Rough Francis will be performing at The Columbus Theatre in Providence. For people who have never seen you guys play or even heard of you guys, what can they expect from Rough Francis?
B.H.: Well, we’re just a very high energy band that does whatever the music tells us to do. We’re very spiritual when it comes to music, we’re very passionate about it and we really love connecting with the audience and connecting with people that come to see us. We try to create a vibe, whenever we’re in a room with people we want to make it an event with feeling. Whatever happens, happens but it’ll definitely be a good time and it’ll definitely be fun with a lot of high energy for sure.
R.D.: I’m looking forward to it tonight and it should be a blast of a time. So Rough Francis is based in Burlington, VT, a place that has a history of being home to jam bands like Phish, Dispatch and Strangefolk. As a punk rock band based in that city, have you ever had shows in Burlington where a bunch of hippies show up? If so, how weird was it?
B.H.: People in Burlington like all kinds of music and you’re right with the jam scene being pretty big up here. At the same time a lot of kids that listen to jam music also go to different types of shows and we do have a very mixed crowd with punk kids, skater kids, older people who kinda know the backstory and grew up listening to The Stooges, we have people that used to go to Lambsbread shows that fall into the hippie category that just know us through our dad and we have college kids so it’s like an awesome mix of all these different types of people. We try to do a lot of all ages shows as much as we can so we have everybody of all walks of life coming to our gigs, we’re even really good friends with some of the members of Phish. Jon Fishman will even come to a show every now and again, people up here are very accepting of all types of music and it’s pretty cool.
R.D.: That’s great to hear, not every place has that type of musical open-mindedness that Burlington seems to have. You guys currently have your debut album out called Maximum Soul Power. When Rough Francis was making the album, what was the process like? Was it a lot of stuff you weren’t used to at all? Did you use any similar techniques that your dad did when he recorded his music? Who helped do the producing and where was it recorded?
B.H.: It was a long process but when we first started being a band we were doing Death covers and once our dad & uncle started playing out live that gave us the green light to move on and start writing our own music. It was a little tricky because we were trying to find our own identity within the story. We knew that we had the energy and obviously our main influence was Death but we wanted to put our own spin on the story and the sound. We pretty much just kind of let go of all the preconceived notions that people would have of us sounding like Death and being related to Death and use that to create our own sound while using that same energy and it worked out really well. We just did what felt right to us and had the same mindset and the same energy, it was kind of like a seamless process. Once we started to let go and not freak out about it as much, that’s when things started to come out naturally.
R.D.: When you just sit back and relax while getting comfortable in your own environment that’s usually when the best stuff comes out. Now where was the album made? Was it done in a studio? In a basement? In a garage?
B.H.: It was done in a studio called Signal Kitchen based in Burlington that also hosts live events now. At the time, it was just barely starting out and we met this guy named Mike Lubita through the filming of the documentary A Band Called Death. We used his studio space for some footage and we got to talking and he said that he’s a sound engineer and he’s interested in recording us. So we formed a relationship with Mike and he got us in the studio for a really good rate, we pretty much tracked all of Maximum Soul Power in 2 days and then we did the vocals and the overdubs at our practice space which is also a recording studio. It was a really casual and slow process, we wanted to do it at our leisure so it wasn’t stressful and we had enough time to work out the kinks, be comfortable and do it the right way. I think it turned out pretty well and we kept it pretty low key.
R.D.: We’re only in March here in 2014 so the year is still pretty young. Rough Francis has an album out and you’re in the middle of a little tour so what does the rest of the year have in store for you guys?
B.H.: We’re going to continue on the path of playing shows, linking up with some other cool bands hopefully. Everyday is a different adventure and a different surprise, you have all these people and these bands sending you emails. Hopefully down the road we can get on an opening slot with a bigger band, but we’re going where the wind takes us I guess.
Bobby Hackney Jr. is one cool cat and you can see him and the rest of Rough Francis tonight at The Columbus Theatre located on 270 Broadway in the west end of The Creative Capital. Get your earplugs and be prepared to act like a total maniac because you’re going to get rocked.
Related Slideshow: 13 Biggest Music Stories in RI in 2013
13. Macauley + Carlton
Local music legend John Macauley of Deer Tick, and world renowned singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton came to Providence in January to headline a show to benefit The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.
Here is music critic Rob Duguay's review of the show:
This past Saturday at the upstairs stage of The Columbus Theatre on Broadway in the heart of the West End of Providence, a magnificent display of music took place to benefit The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. Deer Tick's John McCauley & Ian O'Neil, Vanessa Carlton, Smoota and Caroline Hecht were on a star-studded bill for an experience that was guaranteed to be a memorable one. It's always great when talented people come together for a worthy cause, and in this day and age this was needed more than ever. Read More
12. Carolina Choc Drops
Bringing an eclectic mixture of Piedmont blues, country, ragtime jazz, and traditional folk, the Carolina Chocolate Drops came into town to headline a Sunday night show at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in April.
GoLocal Music Critic was there for the show, and he claimed this to be one of the best shows he attended in 2013:
Class was in session Sunday night at Lupo’s as theCarolina Chocolate Drops provided a crash course in traditional African American music. Their style, which fuses Piedmont Blues, jug band country, ragtime jazz and traditional folk, delighted the crowd. Sounding straight out of a juke joint in Mississippi, (or North Carolina, where the band hails from), their music is infectious. Read More
11. Artistic Explosion
Featuring some of the best local acts from all different genres, GoLocal music critic Rob Duguay organized the first annual Artistic Explosion Music Festival, a week-long multi-venue show to raise money for Girls Rock! and the Rhode Island Music Educators Association.
By all counts, the event was a tremendous success.
10. 24 Hour Music Project
For the second straight year, Kim "Giggles" Madden put together Providence's 24 Hour Music Project benefit. This year, all proceeds from the event and concert went to benefit music education in Rhode Island's public schools.
Rob Duguay was on hand for the CD release party in October:
One of the most inspiring things I've encountered in Providence is the 24 Hour Music Project. Started by Kim "Giggles" Madden last year, a star-studded compilation album of the Creative Capital's finest musicians benefits victims of domestic violence. This time around, another album was made to benefit music education in public schools, another noble cause with an ensemble cast of local musical talents. On Sunday at The Spot, the release of the second 24 Hour Music Project album was celebrated with an amazing show that had Dan Dodd, Dylan Sevey & The Gentlemen, Wake and Baker, P. Lowe, Galactic Alliance and Resin ED jammin' on two stages. There's no better way to spend your Sunday than supporting a great cause, and the Spot was the prime destination to do just that. Read More
9. Colexico at The Met
Tuscon Arizona's Colexico, according to GoLocal music critic Ken Abrams, sounds like "a Tex-Mex meal - you don’t always know exactly what’s in it, but it tastes delicious."
Well, Colexico paid a visit to the Ocean State in June, and Abrams was in the crowd for the festivities.
8. Buddy Guy
Since Park Theatre massive renovation and reopening, the Cranston venue has become a great spot for live music in Rhode Island, and have drawn some very impressive names.
In October, blues legend Buddy Guy stopped by, and music critic Ken Abrams was there:
Last Friday night at the Park Theatre, the nation’s leading ambassador of the Blues made a triumphant stop in Rhode Island. For the second consecutive year, Buddy Guy filled the Park to its 1006-seat capacity, a rare feat for a performer labeled a “Blues” artist. Before the night ended, it was clear why – he is one of the finest performers on tour today. Read More
7. The Temptaions
Legendary Detroit Motown band, the Temptations stopped by Cranston's Park Theatre in December, bringing with them their classics.
Music critic Ken Abrams was front and center for this once-in-a-lifetime R&B experience:
A warm welcome greeted The Temptations Sunday night in Cranston as the Park Theatre hosted a sold out show by the legendary Detroit band. The award winning R&B group thrilled those in attendance with classic hits along with some new songs. Read More
6. Chris Cornell
Legendary Seattle grunge rocker Chris Cornell is known for rocking hard with Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, and Pearl Jam; but when he came into Providence in November, he left the wires behind for an acoustic show on the newly-renovated stage at The Vets:
Normally, one would think of Chris Cornell as the vocalist who can peel the paint off walls with Seattle legends Soundgarden, but recently he's been doing a solo acoustic tour that's been getting a lot of attention. This past Tuesday he made a stop at The Veterans Memorial Auditorium for an experience that exuded soothing songs that hit straight to the heart. Bhi Bhiman opened things up as well, it was going to a memorable evening. Chris Cornell at his genuine best, what more could you ask for? Read More
5. B.B. King
What could be better than a warm summer night in Newport? How about when you are there to see THE name in Blues, BB King? Well, GoLocal Music criticRob Duguay was lucky enough to be in attendance for this show at the Newport Yachting Center in July:
As a live music fanatic, when I hear that a legend is coming through The Ocean State it's a no-brainer that I have to come check it out. When it's a bluesman like B.B. King performing, saying its a no-brainer is a vast understatement, it's more like a spiritual expedition. The King Of The Blues headlined a fantastic night at The Newport Yachting Center as part of The Sunset Music Series with Providence rocksteady soul group Boo City opening up the show, you knew it was going to be one of the top shows of the summer. The whole time I was here I had to remind myself that one of my favorite musicians of all time in B.B. King as well as pinch myself a few times. The guy is pushing 90 and still tours like he was in his mid-20s and still can strum Lucille better than anybody else, Newport was definitely the hotspot for a once in a lifetime chance to see a musician who will go down as one of the greatest ever. Read More
4. Bob Dylan at URI
Legendary singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan passed through the Ocean State in April, making a stop at URI's Ryan Center. GoLocal music critic Ken Abrams made the trek down to South County for the show:
Bob Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” rolled into the Ryan Center on Monday night. The band is currently on a college campus swing, and featured a new addition, RI’s own Duke Robillard on lead guitar. Read More
3. Sir Elton John
A Dunkin Donuts Center crowed was graced by the presence of music royalty in November when Elton John came into Providence for an unforgettable 28-song performance:
Elton John made a triumphant return to Providence Saturday night, making the Dunkin Donuts Center the second stop on his Diving Board Tour. Expectations were high for the near capacity crowd and Sir Elton did not disappoint. He covered a number of hits in his 28 song set, including a full album side from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Read More
2. The Who
Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend; the remaining members of one of the most highly-celebrated rock and roll supergroup of all-time, the Who, finished up the US leg of their World Tour at the Dunkin Donuts Center in February:
On Tuesday at The Dunkin' Donuts Center in downtown Providence, rock & roll legends The Who rocked the joint for the last show of the United States leg of The Quadrophenia and More Tour that has been sweeping the globe since last year. Opening the night were Los Angeles' rock & roll souls Vintage Trouble and it was bound to be one of the memorable shows in Providence's music history. There are rock bands and then there's The Who, it was very clear that the best way to enjoy the first half of your week was to be at The Dunk on Tuesday. Read More
1. Newport Festivals
Summer in Newport -- shopping, beaches, sailing, dining, and LIVE MUSIC. Aquidneck Island comes alive when the weather warms up, and once you get beyond Thames Street, music festivals dominate the scene. In 2013, GoLocal' music critics were on hand for three great music festivals in Newport:
Celtic Rock Festival- Headlined by the Dropkick Murphy's
Newport Folk Festival- Featuring Beck, John Macauley, and the Avett Brothers
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