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Stanley Franc : A Musical Peregrination

Some history for the sake of what ? Possibly trying to understand how we got here, definitely not to help fill out this here website.

I started playing in bands soon after I got my first bass guitar, it has always been equal parts brilliant fun and complete annoyance. I can’t seem to find a decent way of balancing it any better to reach the point of musical enlightenment that brings, at the very least, fame and riches. I have had to settle in using it for a sense of peace and purpose, which is not a bad outcome.

The first complete band I played in was called Fool, I can’t recall how the name came about. We had the classic line up of bass, guitar, drums and lead singer. We played anywhere that would have us, friends houses, boats, bars, nightclubs, local festivals, churches etc.

We recorded a 5 track EP at a recording studio and printed up a number of copies on CD, we sent it lots of places and managed to get one small London based record company to come down and see us perform at a nightclub. I don’t remember much of that night, the record company people brought another band with them to watch us, their bass player got really drunk and they left without him. We didn’t hear from that record company again, tsk. The band fell apart with the guitarist and drummer going off to University, selfish swines.

A gig in a park, I lack decent photos from this time, annoyingly we also had a pretty good logo that I can't find copies of.

This is the first track from that very first EP - Fruity (remix) - I got into turntablism in my early 20’s and added some scratching to the middle 8, hence the ‘remix’, I'd put up the original but have lost it.

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So then a move from the small town I grew up in to the big smoke where I understood the streets to be lined with gold, where there would be an abundance of bands desperate to hire a bass player like me and where the gigs we played would be heaving, sold out affairs.

I auditioned for a lot of bands, most of them were rubbish. Was a time before there was much internet so I was overly reliant on adverts in the NME and free ads in newspapers - you didn’t really know what the music would be like until you got to the audition.

The first one I signed up to properly was a band called Kowloon. They were serious about rehearsing, gigging regularly, recording songs and getting a record deal. They also had a full time manager who had worked with some bands I had actually heard of, albeit in the 1970s.

We rehearsed regularly, gigged all the well known toilet tour venues in London, often to up to 5 people per gig. The lead singer wrote the music and his brother, the drummer, wrote the lyrics. They weren’t interested in co-writing despite my best efforts. We played what I remember being endless ‘showcases’ for record labels, all the big ones, independent ones and all of them generally stating that they would like to hear more in 6 months or so to see how we develop. One of them chucked us a bit of money to record a demo at a fancy recording studio which was nice of them. Here is ‘Just For One Second’ from one of those sessions.

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We also got out to Los Angeles and played the Whisky Go Go, as well as the obligatory record label showcases which, despite being in America, ended with the same feedback as the damn English ones.

I got booted out of Kowloon, I think because the lead guitarists brother (who was a bass player) wanted to be back in the band, and that was the end of that.

The next semi serious band was Saving Face, not the greatest name for a band. However, they had a demo that they sent to me (again after answering ads in the back of NME) with a really great singer and some lovely tunes. The music was more indie / acoustic than I was used to but it was well enough produced to make me think it had potential.

A five piece with keyboards, we didn’t play many gigs but managed to get one at the Shepards Bush Empire to an actual almost sold out crowd. We were supporting some chap that seemed to have a pretty big following (James Carrington) and the bloke from Cutting Crew who wrote big in the 80s tune '(I Just) Died In Your Arms' - it is likely these people brought more of the audience than we did.. anyway great venue, great gig.

'Sundown' by Saving Face:

Kowloon @ The Whisky - if you care to download and massively zoom in.

Saving Face: Obligatory moody band shot

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Saving Face just kind of fell apart soon after the Shepards Bush gig, so on I went to to more auditions.

Next up - Silverlake - I don’t really remember their demo but I do remember meeting them all in The Cambridge Pub next to Palace Theatre. They seemed alright, keen and with decent musical backgrounds having done some professional and semi-professional tours. I remember the rehearsals as we had a semi permanent rehearsal set up in the spire of a church just off Holloway Road, which was odd.

Didn’t play that many gigs, recorded some tunes. One of guitarists (there was two) was big fan of Dylan, I should link him in with the Institute. You will likely pick up the Americana influences in the next song, was a bit too strong for me, we were beginning to co-write some decent tunes when things just fell apart, again.

'Somewhere I Can Breath' by Silverlake:

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So up to this point it has all been playing in bands as a bass player. Since moving to London it was about joining already established bands, this was getting tiring especially with all the falling apart.

Decided the next one I would have to do on my own.. and having got bored with being a bass player thought I would try my hand at guitar. Myspace had recently launched Artic Monkeys, I decided to try using a myspace page to put out my own music and find some people to collaborate with. Turns out this is as equally tedious as answering ads in the NME, loads of dross, loads of people and bands who think they have something special but are so tiresomely unoriginal or just shite, is surprisingly mentally draining. I traipsed over London meeting various people, half heartedly thinking one of them might be the musical connection and salvation I sought.

After too much travel I started seeing the benefit in keeping things local, I was living in Hackney and resolved not to travel any further than this borough. After reducing my geographical aims I then almost instantly found someone interesting - an MC who spoke about English things and societal concerns. Not guns, glocks and slinging product in the projects like far too many other try hards I had met on my travels.

The first 3 track EP

Afro Rizzy and I started a two piece acoustic hip-hop duo - Hours And Minutes. I produced a 3 track EP of our early ideas and sent this to Sound on Sound magazine - discussed here - winning their demo competition. This gave us enough impetus to make the two piece into a full blown band and we found a drummer and bass player (admittedly not from Hackney but finding decent musicians, as this whole piece might well be hinting at, can be hard work). We started gigging, got some Xfm radio play and then, but of course, it all fell apart. I remember the reasons why on this one a little bit clearer. The drummer had some issues with his foot meaning he was having difficulty playing, he was a good drummer and nice chap, it was a blow to lose him. We tried a few more drummers but couldn’t find the same spark.. things then ground to a halt.

An actual CD !

'One Is Many' by Hours and Minutes

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I then got ensnared by the Cult.

All songs here are copyright by their respective owners, I'm not trying to sell them, just provide some backstory. I also think they are great songs. Should any of the wonderful people involved in making any of the above songs want to get in contact, please do - help@ffynche.com

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