Puntismos: Robert, hi. Thanks for chatting with Puntismos. First, let me say that I really enjoy your sound. You've got a very poignant and powerful presence and are an exciting new artist that needs to be heard.
Robert Francis: Thank you.
Puntismos: You recently released "One by One" by Aeronaut . . . your first album.
Tell Puntismos about that record.
Robert Francis: Well... The record took a little over a year to make. I recorded it in a few different places and I essentially learned how to engineer over that period of time.
The record follows a relationship I was in, the ups and downs, the whole thing. I decided to end it when I wrote All Of My Trains, a sort of acceptance that everything I held close to me was over.
Puntismos: You wrote many of the songs on this album while traveling . . . chilling in Mexico?
Robert Francis: A lot while traveling the states... my trips to Mexico preceded the beginning of the record.
Puntismos: "Mama Don't Come" - tells Puntismos about that song.
Robert Francis: Well, my girlfriend and I at the time adopted a pit bull from the pound near by and this dog sort of became our life. I remember walking in and seeing this beaten up dark grey pit with green antiseptic covering just about its entire body with bloody spots everywhere. He just sat there and never once came towards the fence to say hi to anyone. Never barked, barely opened his eyes.
Puntismos: What drew you to this dog? A communion of loneliness?
Robert Francis: I went back to the pound three times before ever considering him (they said he was a fighter), but the final day he just came up and rested his nose on my finger while I held it through the fence and I took him home that day.
Puntismos: Is he still "family?"
Robert Francis: I wouldn't say a communion of loneliness. I didn't quite know what I felt... I do now, and yes, he is still family. I hardly leave him ever... we've tried taking him on tour but its much too difficult... so that’s the only time I ever leave him.
I mean, a dog in that condition, is somewhat like a child. They need constant attention and affection. He trusts no one except for a few close friends and my ex-girlfriend who he loved more than anything.
Puntismos: You're a good person . . . there's the Christian virtue of how to treat the lowliest of men . . . in this case . . . being . . . unfortunately, too many people do not follow that philosophy . . .
Robert Francis: So the song Mama Don’t' Come is about how we sort of watched our behavior change. A lot of confusion.
Puntismos: I understand. Although you wrote and produced "One by One" yourself, you have a parade of contributors on it. Tell us about who played on the record and what they brought to the party.
Robert Francis: Well, I started the record with my friend Marc Gabor a year back. He has pretty ridiculous gear and his parents were out of town so we tore the house apart and sort of made a studio. Songs like Dakota and One by One were recorded there.
Robert Francis: Eventually, we had to leave... and my time there was mostly spent getting drunk and throwing parties.
Puntismos: Hopefully, his parents aren't Puntismos members.
Robert Francis: Hopefully. I never got it together until very recently with the help of Martin Pradler who took what I had and helped me do what I wanted with it.
Robert Francis: Ry Cooder came in towards the end and laid down the guitar for Good Hearted Man and that sort of was the final person who played on the record.
Puntismos: They all added a lot to it but it still retains your personal stamp and your voice clearly resonates. You grew up in LA?
Robert Francis: Yes.
Puntismos: Your father, two older sisters are artists? How does that inform your work?
Robert Francis: Well, my dad used to lay me across his lap when I was maybe six months old and play piano for hours.
Puntismos: He's a pianiste, right? Professional player?
Robert Francis: I wouldn't know what to do if it weren't for my sisters. My first record I received was Bossanova by the pixies and the second was The Band's Big Pink.
Puntismos: Oh, funny. That album rocks . . . turn up the volume and your mother will be up in your room!
Robert Francis: That’s right. He could have been a professional player but was a producer instead.
Puntismos: On Alice, you wrote, "I was destined for greatness, my Mother once told me"? Did did you believe her?!
Robert Francis: Well, when you're young you believe most of the things your mother tells you.
Puntismos: You took classes (and what else, Puntismos doesn't want to know) with John Frusciante of the Chilies. Tell Puntismos how you found Frusciante and please keep it clean . . .
Robert Francis: It’s clean... my mother showed Flea around the school I used to go to because his daughter was just enrolled there. At some point later in time, I contacted him looking for a teacher from his music conservatory and he said "maybe John can teach...." and twenty minutes later John called my house. I was running on the ceiling losing my mind. Happy.
Puntismos: Really? Wow . . . were you nervous?!
Robert Francis: Yeah, I was nervous. I was also pretty young.. I didn't have my license.. it wasn't the easiest thing for him.
Puntismos: What did you learn from him? Was it more technical? Or was it more about thinking / writing/ breathing as an artist? Or both?
Robert Francis: It was very technical. It was also very brief. We had about three lessons that lasted about four hours and after the third I went to Mexico and we never continued. I think he felt frustrated and I can understand why. I never have leaned towards the technical side of things. Never understood it, still don't. I mean, he was taking wild math classes to better his skills in using modular synths and I wanted to just write songs and screw around. The perks of being young. I regret not being able to be more serious.
Robert Francis: That was also right before he started putting out all those records on the label "Record Collection." He's a busy guy and a really good one, I just wasn't ready.
Puntismos: Some ink compares you to Steve Earle or Neal Young but I hear more Jeff Buckley. What do you think of his music? Do you feel any connection there in sound and / or spirit?
Robert Francis: I love Jeff Buckley. I love pretty much everything he's done. As far as a connection goes, I'm not sure I could say we sound alike or have akin spirits. He was more of an optimist and didn't have the insecurities that I carry.
Puntismos: I'll let the album speak for itself on those insecurities. The music industry is in a complete state of chaos . . . now, you don't seem to care about the commerce of industry and are focused on your art . . . but this chaos presents its opportunities. It's now easier for an artist to be heard than ever before but perhaps just as easy to be lost among the thousands of bands breeding on MySpace.
How do you navigate the current landscape?
Robert Francis: There is nothing that makes me angrier than someone who wants to be in a band just to "be in a band." It kills me. There is a lot of that on myspace. I don't like thinking about it. There isn't much you can do. I do believe that at some point, good music is going to prevail again. It has to.
Puntismos: Exactly. It's "put our great music" and they will come . . . they will listen? And if they don't . . . I'll be back in Mexico, "whisky and the blues. . . "
Robert Francis: Of course. That’s right.
Puntismos: Friends of Puntismos can check Robert out on myspace.com/robertfrancis. Where can they buy your songs/album?
Robert Francis: You can find it in most record stores. itunes. Amazon. etc...
Puntismos: Oh, cool. Are you touring? Where can people catch you live?
Robert Francis: We will be playing "el cid" on the 26th of October.
No plans for a tour right now... Will keep everyone posted of course.
Puntismos: That's all on your myspace site?
Robert Francis: It will be tonight. Just confirmed. All things like that can be found there.
Puntismos: Puntismos members take note. . . . Robert, thanks for chatting us with . . .we really appreciate it.
Robert Francis: Thank you, guys.
listen, see, play