1980’s – Francis & Davies – Threnody
Ian Francis History 1980’s
Note: The following history is taken from Threnody’s brochure written in 1986 to accompany the album’s release and introduce it to the media, record stores and other distributors and sales outlets.
Francis & Davies – Threnody
“The story of Threnody is the story of Ian Francis and Geoff Davies from when they first performed together to how the special feel that developed between them created the music on the album Threnody.
Ian Francis first met Geoff Davies when Geoff auditioned for The Raiders in July 1982. The Raiders were a three piece Sydney band, playing mainly original music written by Ian Francis, and playing support gigs booked through Owen Orford at the Harbour Agency.
In the nine months after Geoff Davies joined the Raiders, the now 4 piece band supported at gigs with most of the top Australian bands (INXS, Moving Pictures, JoJo Zep, Jon English, Dragon, Radiators, Eurogliders, Dynamic Hepnotics, Little River Band, Dugites etc) and some overseas acts (Hot Chocolate, George Thoroughgood, Canned Heat).
Two of Geoff’s songs were added to the band’s set during this time. The fees paid to the band less than covered expenses, so both Ian Francis and Geoff Davies survived by playing solo gigs on the nights the Raiders were not playing. Approaches were made to recording companies but no interest was shown. When the band split up in April 1983, Ian financed a demo tape (recorded at Emerald City) using the Raiders band members before they went their separate ways.
Geoff joined the Honeymoon, a band with an album recorded with EMI. Ian continued with his solo work and song writing, and recorded some demos for ABC shows with Steve Hunt at 2UW. With no promotion for the album and no wages coming in, Geoff left Honeymoon in October 1983.
Having kept in touch with Ian during this time, Ian asked Geoff to play keyboards for him on another demo, and by December they were playing one gig a week as a duo, playing mostly original music, along with their regular solo commitments.
This finished a short while after, when Geoff Davies joined the Beats in January 1984. The Beats, although only playing Beatles music live, had a project going under the name of Colours. After securing a publishing contract with Warner Bros., they released a single called “Jump Out”, produced by Charlie Fisher and John Sayers. During this time Ian continued working solo gigs, occasional duo work and writing more songs.
When the Beats decided to base themselves in Western Australia, Geoff left the band and made the decision that started Francis & Davies on the road to Threnody. Geoff decided it was time he started singing and recording his own music. He sent Ian Francis a tape of his latest songs and didn’t have long to wait for a reaction. The tape included the songs “One or the Other”. “Was it You” and Campaign”. Ian replied with a tape that included the songs “Spend Summer With Me” and “Blow Me Away”. Rehearsals started the next week.
In the months that followed, eight track demos were recorded at the Soundry, and circulated to all record companies, with a folder explaining what the duo was about, and lyric sheets to all the songs. The only call back they received was from someone who was courteous enough to phone and ask where to return the tape.
Francis & Davies started working live as a duo again in June 1985, playing smaller venues and securing a residency at Bevy’s Place, Mosman, on Thursday nights. They were contacted by North Sydney Technical College and played a circuit of lunchtime shows around new South Wales Tech Colleges.
Francis & Davies made some more demos after being approached by Eric Vandersande and recorded four tracks at Emerald City in September. These were again circulated to recording and publishing companies and totally ignored.
In October Francis & Davies were approached by Bass Promotions to play two support gigs with America, at Bathurst and Lithgow. They played a one hour set at Bathurst at the Civic Centre in front of eleven hundred seated people. The radio station 2BS approached them for recordings which were subsequently played on Bathurst radio.
At the start of 1986 the Francis & Davies duo realized they only had two options. They could submit to being ignored by the industry and go their own ways, or do it themselves and make their own record. The quality of their song writing and their feel for music when they played together was too good to be ignored. The decision was made. Rough budgets were put together, songs decided on and a plan of attack drawn up. As duo gigs paid less than solo, they limited their live duo gigs to the residency at Bevy’s and started to save their money.
By the end of July they had enough money saved to start recording. Eric Vandersande was contacted at Emerald City and studio time was booked. An EMU SP!@ drum machine was hired and programmed, and drum tracks were recorded on August 8th. On August 11th Ian Francis and Geoff Davies started recording and by 6.00pm on Thursday, August 14th all the rhythm tracks were down. The vocals took from 7.00 pm to 7.00 am the following morning. Any engineer who can function for seventy hours of recording in four days, and achieve such quality of sound, deserves a lot of the credit. Eric Vandersande’s talent and dedication are hereby acknowledged with many thanks.
The album was mixed at EMI 301 Studios from August 30th to September 1st. Ian Francis and Geoff Davies both continuously played gigs during this time as more money was needed. Brett Coupland from Bandit records was again another tireless engineer and producer in mixing nine tracks in three days.
So here it is, after the longest wait for pressings and printing of covers, the Francis & Davies album, Threnody. Their first album and the first record out on the Bandit label. For everyone who has been involved with it, a record to be very proud of. ”
Without a well financed promotional campaign however it is difficult to reach the numbers needed to tip the balance and make enough money to tour or continue recording. So if you are younger and you’re reading this and sometimes think you were “born too late” to be part of some of the most innovative and fantastic music that was recorded in the 70’s and 80’s, spare a thought for me. Had I been born in your decade, the opportunities to use the internet for promotion and to get your music heard could have made all the difference for me!
Francis & Davies
Geoff Davies: synthesizers, pianos, vocals
Ian Francis: guitars and vocals
Steve Fernleigh: drums on “One or the Other”
Leigh MacRae: Backing vocal on “Campaign” & “Manorisms”
Recorded at EMERALD CITY August 12-15, 1986 by Eric Vandersande.
Mixed & Produced at E.M.I. 301 Studio, August 30- September 1, 1986 by Brett Coupland and Francis & Davies.
Manufactured in Australia by Bandit Records 1986
Many thanks to Caroline, Greg, Mark, Don, Smidge, Vlad, Haig, Rice Bubbles and Sneaking Sod!