Francis Harold & the Holograms hide who they are and where they come from but L.A. RECORD still ran into them at Vinyl Solution. They sound like hellrock in hell with Debris, Crime, Flipper and the Electric Eels. They brought their own blood to a later photo shoot, but ended up using the L.A. RECORD stock blood instead. This interview by Janet Housden.
Your motto on your MySpace page says ‘making fear a reality.’ Fear of what?
Francis Harold (vocals): Fear of everything. Fear of people, teachers … everyone in general … fear of your own emotions.
What’s the deal with the masks? What are you hiding?
Francis Harold: I dunno—it’s just one of those things. The other band we’re in, we don’t want kids in that social group to know that we’re in this band.
Why? Is it like a Christian band or something?
Francis Harold: Nah, it’s just trying to avoid the whole ‘ex-members’ thing. I told some guy it was like a play of a nightmare—everything you wouldn’t want to see. Some guy wearing a dog mask with blackface, a guy wearing a wizard robe, some guy with a leather vest and no shirt and an executioner’s hood …
I thought that was sort of a Mentors tribute.
Ron (drums): When people want to insult us, they compare us to Slipknot.
What was your worst gig ever?
Francis Harold: Vancouver. Hands down. Worst show ever. We had to leave all our equipment in Seattle, so we had to borrow gear up there. The equipment was terrible.
Ron: We got stopped at both borders, two hours each.
Francis Harold: They checked the whole car, found the glory hole in back …
They found the what?
Francis Harold: The glory hole in the back of our van.
A real functional glory hole?
Francis Harold: Well, there was a hole and it said ‘glory hole’ above it. It was really awkward.
What would be your ideal audience reaction?
Francis Harold: To bum everyone out. Like thoroughly. Which has happened a lot.
Ron: Our best crowds are usually the ones with, like, a lot of people on drugs, and they usually come up and tell us about it.
What kinds of drugs go well with your music?
Francis Harold: Mushrooms.
So you like to get people on psychedelics and then bum them out—is that what you’re saying?
Francis Harold: Yeah. And racists, too. They love us.
Francis Harold: Skinheads. They hate us.
Francis Harold: Cuz I wear blackface when we play.
The skinheads hate that?
Francis Harold: I guess, yeah.
I thought skinheads liked racism. I thought that was their whole deal.
Ron: I think it’s a serious issue to them, and they think we’re making light of their struggle.
What other types of people do you enjoy bumming out?
Ron: Sound engineers.
Francis Harold: They always tell us to turn down. We played an Urban Outfitters …
Ron: … in Atlanta. That was fucking great.
Francis Harold: That was one of my top five shows. Definitely. On our last tour, our bass player—he’s friends with the manager, and it happened to be the day they were having a huge tent sale with live music and so she said, ‘Yeah, you guys can play, whatever.’
Had she heard you?
Francis Harold: Oh yeah—she liked it. She was into it. There was this huge window in the back of the store, so we set up and literally after the first minute the whole store was empty. People would come up to the door with strollers, then they’d hear us and turn around and leave.
Ron: Yeah, we ruined their business.
Ron: And we got a bunch of free samples of Axe Body Spray. It was awesome because we were in the middle of the tour in the scorching heat …
Yeah, but then you smell like you’re from New Jersey.
Francis Harold: You can smell like a guido all day.
Smells Like Guidos is a good band name. So you come into town and you bum people out with your music, then you smell like guidos …
Francis Harold: Yeah. We had the plug pulled on us the first two times we ever played.
Francis Harold: One was in Fullerton, at a place called Fender’s Bar and Grill. I guess it was just way too loud, and we were walking across tables and throwing paper everywhere, and they pulled the plug and some kid plugged it back in, and then they kicked us out. And we did a show in L.A. where I threw a chair and hit a kid in the face. They didn’t pay us.
Ron: He loved it though.
Francis Harold: Yeah, the kid loved it. But we got kicked out.
It sounds like you’re achieving your objectives.
Francis Harold: Yes.
If you could get any kind of stealth booking, you know, deliberately booking yourselves someplace where you knew they wouldn’t be happy with you, where would it be?
Ron: Any washed-up punker bar, probably. Like drunk punker dudes.
But I’m talking more about like booking yourselves at a debutante ball or frat party or something. You know, you send another band’s demo and another band’s picture, then you show up and … you know. If you could do that anywhere, where would you do it?
Ron: Huntington Beach street fair? We’d set up, maybe turn on one amp, then someone would tell us to turn down and we’d pretend we don’t hear them, like we usually do when that happens and, uh, the cool thing about playing drums is I can keep playing as long as I want. They can’t pull the plug. I can just pretend like I can’t hear them telling me to stop … and we could bring a generator too so we could just set up somewhere else.
Francis Harold: Good idea.
Now you’re thinking. What would the people be doing—like the mothers with strollers?
Francis Harold: They’d be totally disgusted, I would think.
What’s so disgusting about you guys?
Francis Harold: Well, when people aren’t into it, there’s usually a huge awkward circle around the band, and they just stand with their arms crossed, and little by little they just piddle off and out the door. It happened a lot on tour.
I think that happens to everyone.
Ron: We threw a floor tom at some guy in Lawrence, Kansas …
Francis Harold: They threw a beer at me.
Well, you’re the star.
Francis Harold: There were a lot of places where we didn’t get paid the full amount because of broken microphones, broken chairs, broken stands …
So you like to break stuff.
Francis Harold: Yeah, essentially.
Ron: Stuff just gets broken in the process. It not like we’re breaking stuff on purpose—that’s stupid.
Francis Harold: We’ve gotta pay for it.
So it eats into the profits. So why do you do it then?
Francis Harold: What?
Francis Harold: Things just happen.
Ron: You hit someone with a microphone, it breaks.
Francis Harold: You throw a chair at someone, the leg breaks. You pick up a microphone and swing it around your head, it snaps.
How would you describe the sound of your band?
Francis Harold: It’s, uh, really tense and really awkward and really confusing, like when you first get to middle school and you have to dress out for P.E., right, so it’s a bunch of teenage boys half-undressed in a P.E. room that smells like feet and you’re just, you’re at a point in your life where you’re really curious, but you don’t want to look, you know? And everyone’s standing there like really confused like, ‘Do I look at the guy next to me or not?’ And there’s always that one kid who doesn’t wear underwear. You know? And you wanna look at him, but you don’t wanna be that one guy, you know, who sneaks a peek. And that’s exactly how I’d describe our music.
FRANCIS HAROLD & THE HOLOGRAMS WITH THE SINKS AND THE ROUGH KIDS ON TUE., JAN. 5, AT FIVE STAR BAR, 267 S. MAIN ST., DOWNTOWN. 8 PM / $5 / 21+. AND WITH THE MAYYORS, PTERODACDUDES AND AUDACITY ON SUN., JAN. 17, AT A HOUSE PARTY IN FULLERTON. FRANCIS HAROLD & THE HOLOGRAMS’ WHO SAID THESE WERE HAPPY TIMES? LP IS OUT NOW ON GOING UNDERGROUND AND SQUARE WAVE RECORDS AND THE ‘MIRROR OF FEAR’ 7” IS OUT NOW ON HOZAC. VISIT FRANCIS HAROLD & THE HOLOGRAMS AT MYSPACE.COM/FRANCISHAROLDANDTHEHOLOGRAMS.