I was delighted to have the chance to interview frontman Franck Carducci from the band of the same name. We met downstairs at the Glasgow Ivory Blacks in the catacombs of the building. (Check out a review of the gig there here) As an interviewee, he is not only charming and humble but has a manner along with a very lilting French accent that almost was hypnotic to listen to. He was quite extensive and thoughtful in answering my questions as you will see from the transcript. So having said that let’s get onto reading what the man himself had to say.
DG… Can I start by asking about your background a little? I was wondering due to your theatrics along with your musicality if you came from a family that was in entertainment? If not how did you go in that direction?
FC… Family? Not really. It is just I have always been a fan of bands and artists that don’t just do the music. For me in a live situation that if it is just about the music, people could just stay on the couch listening to a decent hi-fi system. If you want people to go out, pay for a ticket, then, of course, the music has to be good, otherwise, there is no point, but it is not enough, you HAVE to give them more.
That is why I love artists like Bowie, Gabriel and Cooper, and I am a big fan of Alice Cooper. For them it isn’t just music, folks can love it or not, but if you go to a show you don’t just hear the songs from the album you have a whole visual experience. My first gig was Pink Floyd away back in 1993 or 94 on the Division Bell tour (having checked it was indeed 1994) and there was everything going on, of course, there was extraordinary music but with visuals that kept your eyes open all the time. That’s what I wanted to do. If you want people to come out, spend their money I fee you have to give something more. That is where the visual side of what we do comes from. (Pauses, Laughs) Of course, we don’t have THAT kind of budget as you can imagine but we do what we can.
DG… When I saw you last year for the first time it looked like there is a bit of improvisation going on, taking chances and an allowance for all the band members to express themselves.
FC… Of course, that is important to me, it is not all about me, it is a real BAND! It might have my name but that is due to when I started I didn’t actually have a band. When I released the first album (2011’s Oddity) I was alone. I actually released it because of Steve Hackett from Genesis who said to me “your music is cool, you should make an album and I was like ” Why? Nobody would be interested, nobody knows who I am”. His answer to that was simply “do it for yourself, if it works and it sells you will be happy, if not you will still be happy as you actually did it. Be selfish, do it for you”. So I did.
About 6 months after I made it I was in bands offered gigs as support in the Netherlands and Belgium so I had to put together a band for those. Now I see this as a band. Really as a band. I don’t want to tell the guys what to do and when. OK, there is a track you have to follow, but I like it when the band just play themselves. We have parts in the concerts where they can express themselves individually. I really like that.
DG… There were parts when you were standing back in Leicester, watching, and it looked like you were enjoying it as much as us in the crowd.
FC… Yeah. On this new show, there is even a song where I don’t play at all. I get off the stage and leave them to play. That is good for me as well. I can change outfits, have a drink, relax for 3 minutes. It’s good.
DG… Are the musicians with you the same as when you started? Have there been a lot of changes?
FC… It has changed. I was living in Amsterdam when I did the first album so when I was offered gigs there in the local scene. Gigged for a couple of years there in small clubs. When I moved home to France they didn’t follow as they were not from France. When I got home I called Christophe (guitarist in the band) an old friend of mine and told him I had gigs in 3 months time and needed a band and he was like “let’s get a band together” so we found a drummer another guitarist and a keyboard player.
Then Mary (Mary Renaud) came along a little later. That wasn’t planned. We didn’t have a female singer. She at some point said she liked what we do and asked if she could come onstage and sing on the Alice track. I sort of joked that yes if she dressed in character as Alice, She was like ” yes I will do it”. So she turned up as sexy Alice. She was so good, she sang so well, dancing around, really entertaining. I loved it. I asked her if she wanted to play Alice in Paris at an important gig and she said yes but asked if she could sing some backing vocals on a couple of other songs as well. Was a case of “I want to do the whole thing, not just Alice”. So of course, she did, she was so good and we all thought that we wanted to keep her, have her as part of the band. That’s how it worked, it wasn’t planned. But there she is… (at this point laughs as Mary was in the room doing makeup. She looked over and said “Hello”)
DG… I know you are doing new songs on this tour. How is the new album coming along?
FC…We have recorded drums, bass and guitars and next week we will be recording the keyboards. Everyone keeps asking when it will be out but I don’t know. We do have a couple of guests including Derek Sherinian,ex-Dream Theater and Alice Cooper. Really exciting.
The Steve Hackett Story:
DG… You mentioned Steve Hackett earlier. How did it come about having him on the last album? (He appears on the song “Closer To Irreversible”)
FC… (Laughs) Now that is an old story! It started a few years ago when there was a Genesis fan club event in France. Steve had been invited to play. When the promoters received the technical riders for him they had no clue. So the president of the fan club who is an old friend called me for assistance on the technical things having never put on a show before. He was like “these guys are so professional, there are about 30 pages of tech stuff I don’t understand and it is all in English” so I tried to help. I offered to come over for the weekend to help with logistics and translating between Steve and the organizer as I speak English “a bit” (More than a bit I would say). So I was offered a half hour acoustic slot doing some Genesis covers. Was so cool as I have been a fan for so long.
Steve came into the dressing room, said it was very good, and we began to chat. We only had a little time so he invited me to the show he was doing in Amsterdam for 3 days later having found out I lived there. He asked me into the dressing room and I was there about 45 minutes. It was so surreal to me. That was when he told me to record something as I said earlier. Other folks had said that to me before but this was Steve Hackett so I thought “I must do that now”. (Laughs) Started recording the next day. We kept in touch and he kindly offered to play on my second record. So cool!
DG… How did the guests for your next album come about? Especially Derek Sherninian?
FC… In Derek‘s case, he contacted me! I don’t really know how or why. (Laughs) I think he plays on a lot of folks records, but it is nice he wanted to also work with us. He does a lot of sessions!
At this point, I mentioned “a bit like Alex Lifeson” as he is doing plenty of session work with others. He then quickly in the conversion said (whilst again laughing) “I should ask him as well and see if he would“. I was right behind that idea. At this point, the interview was over but the chat continued for a bit. Conversation including how Neil Peart “is a god” and how much drummer Nino is a fan. Also chatted about the soundcheck and the music the guys played warming up including Deep Purple.
It was an absolute delight to spend time with the man himself. I could have listened to him talk for longer. A huge thanks to Franck Carducci for his time and patience. We wish him all the very best for the future here at Decibel Geek and look forward to hopefully reviewing the next album, whenever that may be!