Baz Francis & Magic 8 Ball
In 2017, Baz Francis released his solo album called ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks,’ which is full of ballads about the ups and downs of love and relationships. ‘Saving Graces’ is a song that explores self-acceptance and how others perceive oneself as well. The spoken words at the end of some of the songs allow listeners to see into Francis’ personality and add a charming quality to them. In contrast to Francis’ former band ‘Magic Eight Ball,’ many of the songs are more ballad-based, slower tempo songs that are more melancholy rather than narrative that his former band explored. ‘Revenge Of The Animal Kingdom’ is an ominous song that exposes how others will no longer deceive Francis, the song later transitions into heavier guitar sound creating a more grungy vibe. Overall ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’ is a myriad of tracks about heartbreak and learning lessons from it. There are also themes of overcoming the chaos that love brings into one’s life, such as in Track 11 ‘Bird On The Wire.’ The album ends with an acoustic version of ‘Pulling The Other One,’ which allows listeners to focus on Francis’ vocals and reminds listeners that there is a certain playfulness that is associated with deception.
I think every kid wants to be a pop star or has fantasies as to what that feels like, but for me the difference between the fantasy and the reality came when I discovered the Manic Street Preachers at 15 years of age. I’d stay up late to watch them on TV and practice along to their records with James Dean Bradfield as my invisible tutor. Within a year I had my own band, Mansion Harlots and started performing live here and there, which although small affairs to most other people, were huge deals to me at the time and gave me the bug to keep going in that direction."
Ultimate goals in this career?
"Simple as it sounds: to keep making and recording music that I love, touring new and interesting places with it, and making new friends as I do so. In order for me to do these things I need the support and love of others, so if I continue to receive the kindness that I have done over the years from people who enjoy my songs, then I don’t really feel that I can ask for too much more than that.
I first performed live in public in 1997, so this year marks 20 years of me doing what I love, it’s just that now I’m playing farther afield and hopefully better too! I always try and push myself as a musician to be unpredictable and more improved as a player, so as long as I’m pushing my personal boundaries on that front then I feel that I am helping maintain my longevity in this field."
Over the years I kept having the odd person tell me they prefer my acoustic work or “you should do more of that”, but at the time I was too busy with Magic Eight Ball and we were getting progressively heavier, so I told those people that I would focus on more acoustic material in the future, but all in due course. That then made me realize there was some public interest in me making a certain type of record, but when I was writing ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’, I wanted it to not only be what those people were talking about but for it to also have a twist that made it unlike other singer-songwriter albums in that this one was idiosyncratic to me. I only ever make records that interest and excite me though, as ultimately I am the one who will have to live with them forevermore."
Magic Eight Ball Album Review
Magic Eight Ball’s album ‘Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait’ is full of feel-good pop rock songs that anyone could turn on when their day is feeling mundane because it’ll make you realize not to take everything so seriously. With elements of pop and rock, Magic Eight Ball’s sound is reminiscent of pop punk and alternative music of the 90s and early 2000s. A lot of the songs sound as if they could be off a soundtrack of the films of that era as well because they tell stories and are simplistic in nature, with the overall theme for each song being easily translated to listeners. There are 19 tracks on the ‘Expanded Edition 2016,’which allows listeners to fully immerse into Magic Eight Ball’s music. One of the standout tracks is a slowed down ballad that is nostalgic called ‘Monkey Bars’ and it is a bittersweet ballad about acceptance and reluctantly having to moving on. A common theme sprinkled throughout the album is self-realization and hope for the future because although you may struggle you with the present, the future will hold many better things in store. ‘Before It Was Murder (You got Me Talking) feat. Donnie Vie,’ is a song about heartbreak that is playful and not particularly mad or forlorn, there is also a nice instrumental portion that leads into more self-realization and how much better life can be once a relationship is over.
The last few songs include acoustic versions of ‘Monkey Bars,’ ‘Russian Ballet,’ and ‘Local Girls,’ which all prove to be memorable in their own right, and having acoustic allows the overarching themes, self acceptance and soul searching, on the album to hit home because listeners can focus on vocals. The live music elements allow Magic Eight Ball to experiment further with their sound and create more variations of the stand out songs of ‘Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait.’
Aside from the number of live players (3 versus 1), my solo work so far has leant towards a less rock sound, but I think that has been a reaction to me not wanting to repeat the Magic Eight Ball formula verbatim here. I like the options both my band and solo work offer me, but there really is no rule book as to what either could be as far as I’m concerned.
I write alone for both, and record with various musicians and set-ups, so the creative process for either early on is very isolated, then very artist/producer intensive, so the real difference takes place when preparing to perform the music live. There are benefits to playing solo and with a band, so I reap the benefits of both worlds on that front.
My memory and life experiences have kept me in good stock of inspiration over the years, but it does always pay to travel and listen to new music and ideas to your ears, as we never stop learning no matter what we plan to do with our newly held information.