Bobby Hackney Jr. of Rough Francis 10 February 2016 on Rocket Shop
Words by TOM PROCTOR. Photo by JAMES LOCKRIDGE.
Bobby Hackney Jr., lead singer of legendary Vermont punk outfit Rough Francis, is as honest and open as the band he represents. But with a cheeky grin, a chilled demeanour and inviting laugh he paints a different portrait from the grizzly, growling frontman that appears on so many stages around the Burlington area.
Lounging outside the Big Heavy World Studio he gladly spent a quiet few having the most pleasant of conversations discussing the band's flair for the retro, his technical prowess and rumors about their much anticipated new album:
Tom Proctor: So you have a performance coming up at Art’s Riot, is this a suggestion that there is new projects in the works?
Bobby Hackney: This is just a show, something to do in the winter while it's cold and boring but we are working on a new record, but that's not going to hit until spring. Things are getting close, we have back up vocals and percussion to add but we’re getting there. We’re hitting the home stretch.
TP: Is there any new people working on this album you haven't previously worked with?
BH: No new people, this project is just us guys working on it, it's nice to have that freedom. Its great we’re going alone on this one, we’ve been a band for 7 years and the first time we recorded was in 2010 and over that time we've evolved and learned how to make a record so it’s a lot different cos we've aged as a band. When you first start you’re still trying to figure stuff out, how you sound, where you fit on the musical landscape but we’ve finally found how we’re supposed to work together.
TP: Your brother, Urian Hackney, in a previous interview mentioned that you like using old school equipment when you record and perform, who in the band came up with this concept?
BH: Our brother Julian the guitar player, he was the one that started bringing in all this old equipment, his amp is from ‘64 and there was something about the sound that stuck with us. A lot of the music we listen to is older rock and we just love the sound and the tone that’s made on that equipment, so if you want to replicate the sound you have to have the stuff. We studied the bands of the 60’s era and checked out what they used, it's all about the tube amps you know (laughs.)
TP: Do you find it difficult to get hold of this specialised equipment?
BH: Well with eBay you can basically find anything (laughs.) My brother found his on Craigslist, he lived in Cali at the time in a really bad part of Oakland. It was advertised stupidly cheap but it sounded great and he didn't have to repair all that much to get it working. That's the amp he still uses now.
TP: Are you all quite handy then?
BH: Our guitar player Paul is a guitar tech for Music Store Live, and everybody is really handy with their own stuff. When you have equipment that breaks a lot you learn how to fix it.
TP: Being in a band with your brothers, how does that affect a situation if you have creative differences?
BH: It depends, if someone brings an idea to the table that the rest of us aren't so sure on then you've got to fight for that idea, you gotta tell us why it's so important and we may come round, but it really depends on how much you want it. But since three of us are brothers we know how to handle these situations, things don't get too tense, cos we have our own way of dealing with stuff.
TP: You all come from different places musically and have different influences, how did that affect your style?
BH: Well when we all discovered about our Father’s and Uncle’s band ‘Death’ that's what brought us together regarding our own sound. That's how we found common ground for music and it went from there. We all listen to different music but at the end of the day we also share a lot of interests so it wasn't too difficult.