MP3 Francis McGrath - No Less Days
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15 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Modern Rock, ELECTRONIC: Pop Crossover
Francis McGrath is one of those artists who is tireless in his pursuit of new musical idea. Just as great writers love to read, Francis' compositions and performances are inspired by the diverse sounds he listens to. To say his music is hard to classify would be an understatement. Refusing to be limited by narrow categories, he prefers to think of the word "genre" as a description like "fast", "slow", "loud", or "soft". His first album, "No Less Days" exemplifies this as songs jump from prog rock to new age to folk to classical to oldies. "I want to explore different areas with each song," Francis explains, "but I never want things to become dissonant or unlistenable."
Growing up listening to bands like Rush, The Alan Parsons Project, Yes, The Who, Styx and Kansas, Francis developed a very open mind. "Those bands would try anything if it felt right for the song, I really respect that. I loved getting one of their new albums, listening to it with headphones while reading the lyrics and digging the art work. It was a complete experience." Since then, a growing number of artists have ended up in his CD collection, including Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Suzanne Vega, Sarah McLachlan, Seal, Dave Brubeck, Philip Glass and many more. "I also like soundtracks. I probably have more soundtrack CDs than most people have in their whole CD collection."
One of the keys to his style is his writing process. "Most of my songs start as poems. In fact, most of my poems haven't been set to music. But sometimes a poem makes it clear to me that it wants to be a song and the poem dictates the style the music will be." The writing of the music is facilitated by the fact that Francis is a multi-instrumentalist who plays keyboard, bass, guitar, drums, penny whistle, dulcimer, trombone and sings. "I originally wanted to record every part of 'No Less Days' myself, but I soon realized that I needed some help with the guitar parts and brought in Richard Black and Lee Edwards. Maryann Price is my voice instructor, and when she offered to sing back up, I couldn't pass up the chance to have an Austin legend on my album. Lastly, I brought in Will Taylor of Strings Attached to perform my string quartet, 'Megalopolis I'. I had considered doing it with synthesizers, but I felt the piece deserved real strings."
Besides recording this album, Francis has played in many bands in Austin, on and off, for 16 years. Right now he can be seen playing keyboards with the Rock Art Replicants, a band that specializes in the progressive rock he loved so much growing up. He also plays bass with The Greatest American Heroes (a TV theme song band), the BMWs (a rock cover band) and two Austin singer/songwriters: Billy Goerdt and Lee Edwards.
When asked what's next, Francis laughed and said, "Right now, I only have ideas for about seven more albums including a new age concept album, a solo piano album, a jazz fusion album and a rock opera. Right now I'm working on two at once, one will be all instrumentals and the other will use a chamber ensemble."
Originally born in Pittsburgh, PA, Francis split his childhood between Pittsburgh and Pampa, TX. He came to Austin in 1988 to go to college, and except for 2 years of exile in Houston, he has lived in Austin ever since. He spends his days as a Senior Systems Analyst for The University of Texas and lives with his wife and son.
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