Eugene Francis Jnr and the Juniors are supporting Coldplay on the first half of the UK tour. We called up Eugene after the first night in Sheffield to find out a bit more about his band.
Hello Eugene. How was the first night of the tour?
It was perfect. I’m here with Pete the tour manager now and we’re just reliving it. We were just saying how smooth everything was and how lovely all the Coldplay crew were.
Was it busy when you were on?
Maybe I’m bigging ourselves up here but I’d like to think it was 60 percent full. Put it this way I tried counting every single human being in the audience and I couldn’t. So I take it there were more than fifty people there.
And were they receptive?
Yeah – there was lots of cheering, whooping and hollering, although a lot of it was probably from my mum, who was there.
Is this tour a big thing for the Francis family then?
Yeah – eight dates in big places. I think this is probably is the defining point, where instead of your mum going, "Get a real job", she’s going,"You must be doing alright because everyone knows Coldplay".
How did you come to be doing the tour?
I’d like to think it was done on musical merit and that the guys like what I have done before and the solo project I’ve moved onto now. Last year when we first started peddling it about using Eugene Francis Junior and the Juniors, with the whole band, the Coldplay lads did come out and watch us. But I also knew the guys in college.
How did you meet them?
We were in the same halls of residence in university. And all four of us have tried our best to keep in touch since.
Were you at Coldplay’s first gig?
Yeah, I was indeed. There was a time were they opened for my band at the time and I opened for them when they were Starfish. But they’ve seen a lot of musical water pass under the bridge since then. I’d like to think that both camps have got better.
Which of them do you know best?
Will was the first person I befriended and Will and I are, to this day, still very close.
It must have been quite odd watching your college pals become big rock stars.
Absolutely. But I’m also very proud knowing that good guys sometimes do finish first and it’s not necessarily your rock n roll ethos or how much you talk up your game. It’s nice to see that the music dictates how people perceive you and what people buy.
When did you first realise that they were quite good?
Tobe honest with you, the first time I saw Jonny play guitar with Chris when they were just jamming in a room, it gave me goosebumps. It just made me think of all the wrongs and the rights in the world.
Did you ever make music with them?
Not too much. Me and Jonny used to jam and me and Champs used to write songs about 24-hour off-licenses, but that’s about as far as it went because I had my thing and they had their’s.
And you never lost touch with them?
There have been temporary times when I’ve been away or they’ve been away but, no, we’ve always kept in touch.
Have they changed much as people?
No. Their dress sense and their hairstyles have got better. But they still live their lives with the same morals and they treat all human beings the same. And I think that’s what’s carried them so far.
For those who haven’t heard it, what does your music sound like?
I would call it folk-tronica. Not folk as in the Lindisfarne sense but folk as in honest music, but with a lot of electronica. Someone else has described it as Bob Dylan meets Aphex Twin but I don’t think it’s as heavy as that.
Do you have an album out?
Yes, it was out over the summer and it’s called The Golden Beatle. It’s like a psychedelic adventure.
And you’re doing this tour with a band?
Yeah. It’s the perfect time to take the full seven-piece out.
Have you played venues this big before?
Yeah, but only between the hours of ten at night and seven in the morning in a little world known as Dreamland.
Were you quite nervous?
I’m not going to say nervous – it’s bad not to be nervous. It was more surreal than anything. The sound was the best we’ve ever had it and the soundcheck was the longest we’d ever had. But when the house lights come on, you realise you can’t focus on the people on the back of the room and it really dawns on you that it is quite a large space. The only way I can describe it is that it’s like the difference between bungee jumping and skydiving. If something goes horribly wrong with either, you’re going to die in the same way. It’s just on different scales. Because you’re further from the ground and you’re falling through clouds. It’s just all a lot more surreal if you’re skydiving.
Did you watch Coldplay last night?
I did. I watched them with my mother. We had some really good seats.They’ve got a great show with psychedelic butterflies and lots of movement over three stages. And now they’ve got a repertoire where they can drag anything they want off the last four albums. And it definitely brings tears to my eyes when I see Will playing the guitar and singing with all his heart.
Final question, what’s you’re favourite Coldplay song?
I knew you were going to ask that, so I’ve done a bit of research! My favourite song ever is off Parachutes and it’s called We Never Change. I’ve probably cried like a small child to that. Parachutes is my favourite album because it’s so honest. On Rush Of Blood, I think my favourite song is Green Eyes. On X&Y it would be The Hardest Part, and on Viva it would without doubt be Lovers In Japan purely because of the emotions, the way certain things make you feel. That song just makes me want to go out and live the greatest day of my life.
For more information on Eugene Francis Jnr and the Juniors check out their MySpace page here