093 Magic Eight Ball

magic-eight-ball-post-gig-at-togfest-in-milton-keynes-24th-june-2016-by-kay-douganName: MAGIC EIGHT BALL

Location: SURREY


baz-francis-of-magic-eight-ball-in-session-in-eastbourne-by-andrea-duarte-2nd-march-2016I received a really lovely email back in December last year from Baz Francis who is part of the band Magic Eight Ball. He contacted me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing one of their albums which they had recently recorded. I offered them a feature instead but at the time I was quite busy and already had a lot of people lined up to feature on The Spiralling. It’s my pleasure to be able to write about them now though!

Baz is the singer, guitarist and songwriter in the band but his musical career started a long time ago. “My proper introduction to music came back in 1995 when I was 14 with my first love of Marvin Gaye, then the guitar entered my life. It became about me making music too the following year with my discovery of the Manic Street Preachers. Although I had a few guitar classes in college, I was self-taught up to Grade 5 standard apparently, taking my cues from watching others kids play during school lunch breaks.” The last 10 and a bit years have seen Magic Eight Ball become his life and the home for a lot of his musical work. “With and without the band I’ve played just shy of 20 countries in that time and recorded and performed with some of my favourite artists too. I play because it’s part of who I am. It’s kind of an extension of my personality I guess, and I’ve been doing it for 20 years now so there’s no sign of me stopping either!” Baz has projects other than Magic Eight Ball, and has toured on multiple occasions with his friend Donnie Vie.

magic-eight-ball-richest-men-in-the-graveyard-front-cover-artwork-by-matt-whitbyThe current line-up of Magic Eight Ball is Baz Francis, Robbie J. Holland and PD Doling. They all met at different times. “Robbie and I back in 2001 when we were both living in Old Windsor, PD and I at a gig we were both playing at in 2012, and the new line-up of the band as a whole at our first rehearsal together in Surrey earlier this year.” Through Magic Cat Records, they released their first album ‘Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait’ featuring guest appearances from Jason Bowld (Bullet For My Valentine) and Donnie Vie in 2013 having toured extensively over the years leading up to that (including previous dates all over Europe and in The States). Magic Eight Ball then released their second album ‘Last Of The Old Romantics’ in 2014 featuring the legend that was the late Rik Mayall (The Young Ones/Drop Dead Fred) on the record.

baz-francis-of-magic-eight-ball-on-the-main-stage-at-weyfest-2014-courtesy-of-tom-odonoghueThroughout his time as a musician Baz has taken his inspiration from a great number of sources. “Great musicians, wonderful people, strong coffee and the universe at large. I love the Manic Street Preachers, Freddy Krueger and the state of California. All are equally valid sources of inspiration for me.” As with many creative people, one of the biggest things that Baz has had to overcome is himself. “That is true of anyone really. Once I got beyond my obsessions, fears and reservations about myself enough to see the horizon, I think I was good to start tackling the tough interactions with other people that often come with being in a band. Managing to repeat that feeling of listening to something that I’ve made, and be euphoric that it came out of me. They don’t give out awards for achieving that feeling, but the rewards within yourself when you do are countless. I’m proud to be in that club.”

Currently Baz is working on his first solo album due for release early next year. “I plan to get back to performing live once the opportunity presents itself again. We’ve just come back off Magic Eight Ball’s third European Tour and I also played some solo gigs in Colombia, so I want the next adventure to be considered properly rather than hastily done.” The next show in the band’s diary sees them return to Sala Rocksound in Barcelona, Spain on 17th March 2017.

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