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A Dirty Dozen with DANNY NICHOLS from THREE FOURTHS FRANCIS – October 2021

| 29 October 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “The band was formed by a bunch of guys who have been jamming together since they went to St. Francis of Assisi grade school in south St. Louis county. Although the line-up has undergone several changes and rotations over the years, at any given time 75% of the band has been composed of St. Francis of Assisi alumni, hence the name THREE FOURTHS FRANCIS. Their sound is reminiscent of rockers such as CHEAP TRICK, THE ROLLING STONES, THE WHO and ENUFF Z’ NUFF.” We get guitarist Danny to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

There are two guitar tracks throughout the album and in some places three, plus the bass guitar.  That is a lot of instruments playing the same main notes, so a lot of the intricacies of the individual tracks can get buried in the overall sound.  Often when I am listening to a rock band, I try to hear each individual instrument and distinguish which band member is doing what.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

When I was nine years old my family went to a country resort for a vacation.  There was an older kid named Doug Shirley, who has been lost to time, who invited me into his cabin to listen to his cassettes.  He had Metallica’s Master of Puppets and Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Ozz.  I have been a metalhead from that day forward.    Three Fourths Francis is not a metal band, but my love of heavy metal extends to any guitar based rock, and  Three Fourths Francis is obviously driven by the influences my bandmates. Mike Wilkes loves Rush, so his bass tracks reflect some of that.  The drummer Mike Watson is a fan of progressive rock like Yes and ELO.  Mark and Joe have many influences, but we all grew up huge fans of Guns-n-Roses, so there is definitely some of that in there, especially on Joe’s solos .  I think Mark sings like a mix between Mick Jagger and Donnie Vie of Enuff Z’nuff.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Within a couple of months of discovering Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica, I was at a buddy’s house and watched a full Alice Cooper concert, from the Kane Roberts era, on MTV.  To me Cooper is the greatest of all time as a live act, and I was mesmerized.  I think this is significant to Three Fourths Francis as Cooper’s albums are less metal and more a guitar orientated hard rock, which more closely ties into what we are doing.  Soon after I got Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits, which is a blueprint for a classic rock sound.  And I will never forget walking home from school one day in 1987 and being handed a Walkman queued up to play Appetite for Destruction.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

In regards to Three Fourths Francis  The Rolling Stones, Cheap Trick, The Who, Enuff Z’nuff and Guns-n-Roses.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I would have to say Paul McCartney, because my goal with any music is to get as many listeners as possible, and he would certainly help with that.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Guitar driven hard rock with an eye towards a strong melody.   Lyrically we are leaning hard on the nostalgia of a shared youth of misadventure.  A celebration and a reflection on the years gone by, but hopefully in a way which is universally relatable.   I think we are too unknown to share an unfortunate comparison, lest we scare off a potential listener.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

My wonderful wife, who is extremely supportive of the band, has been known to show up in the basement with a plate of cookies or something of the sort.   It is interesting you mention acoustic guitars, so I will use that as a segue to explain the final track on the album.   A few years ago, Joe’s brother asked us if we would perform a short acoustic set at his birthday party.  In preparation we rehearsed one night just me, Mark and Joe, and I recorded the session as a guide track to rehearse with later in the week.  From that night came the recording of us acoustically covering the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers”, which we did just one or two takes of.  When we were working on the album I stumbled across the recording, and thought this is kind of cool.  Let’s throw this on the album as a bonus track.  I hope someone digs it.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I was met Ace Frehley.  I just thought of how many times I listened to Alive! and Alive II and covered my notebooks with drawings of Ace.  I wanted to play it cool, but instead I just said to him,  “I am sitting next to Ace Frehley.  I am sitting next to Ace Frehley.  You are Ace Frehley, and I am sitting next to you.”   I finally recovered enough to tell him I thought “Talk To Me” was the best Kiss song of all time.  He responded by saying “It was a big hit in Australia.”

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I think what I like best is being an active participant in the creation of music.  Five people working together to build a song, and being responsible for making sure the right note goes in the right place.  In the live setting, knowing the big riff is coming up, and you get to deliver it to the audience.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Whenever I read the guitar magazines they are always talking about gear.  I am not a gear head, and don’t really have anything too nice.  But no one has ever asked me what gear I used.  Most likely because I am light years below the level of anyone caring.  I have an EVH 5150 amp.  So now I have asked myself and answered.  I am too grateful anyone is asking me any questions to be tired of answering any of them.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

One time I was at Debbie’s house and I was plugging in my amp, while talking and not paying attention.  I had my finger resting on an electric prong while it was half in the outlet.  My regret over that decision was instant and intense.  Unlike my hero, Ace Frehley it did not result in a hit song.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

The Black Sabbath debut album.  I would like to have been in the room when music was changed forever and my favorite genre was born.



Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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