We’re proud to debut Nashville band Frances and the Foundation‘s new single “Bohemian Paradise.”
Vocalist-bassist Samantha Frances, drummer Wes Cramer and guitarist Nathan Zumwalt already have a tour planned that will take them through the Southeast U.S. in 2017, and they’re completing work on a full-length debut album, which will be released this spring. But first, they’re releasing a 7-inch on Jan. 27 that features “Bohemian Paradise,” which Frances described as a jab at people’s perceptions of East Nashville as an idyllic wonderland. The neighborhood sits right in the middle of massive expansion , with gaudy houses popping up left and right, and clearly not belonging there.
“[It’s] like, ‘Oh, I’m going to this really funky place, and I’m going to be part of this really cool scene if I move there,'” she said. “There’s so many people walking their dog out on the sidewalk and taking their kid in the stroller, but when I moved here you did not walk your dog at night and it was kind of dangerous and seedy. You’d never see the soccer mom with her kids on the street. I’m just poking fun at the expectation of the neighborhood versus what it isn’t anymore. Lyrically I talk about the houses going up, I talk about the bands from New York and L.A., and I’m making fun of myself.”
RIFF: Your sound has evolved from what you describe as ’90s alternative to a bit of a dirtier rock sound. What brought that on?
Frances: Well, partially the change of band members, I think. My old guitar player, who will always be one of my best friends, was very melodically driven and mostly into the whole indie world. And I was into that to some extent too, but he drove that. I always wanted to be a little darker, a little more rockin.’ And he was sort of over that. That’s what he did with his college band. The new guitar player, Nathan, is definitely down to just play the rock music. The other side is that the drummer change had a lot to do with it. Now, he’s a total metal guy. It just evolved into that. What we started writing as the new band was just harder rock.
RIFF: How does your new stuff fit into the lo-fi scene of indie-rock?
Frances: I think that we recorded it in a really interesting way. We recorded the tape, and we worked with a really good producer and an engineer, who works on country stuff. Well, I guess I should say Americana, not country. He worked on some bigger names like Chris Stapleton. I think we fit into that to some extent, but we want to sound a little more polished than that. We are trying to find a happy medium when it comes to that stuff. I want it to sound how it’s supposed to sound. We’re not trying to to fit into what other people think it should sound like, and we’re not trying to fit into the indie rock label, necessarily. … We’re cool with being one of the cool kids, but we’re down to hang out with nerds, you know?
RIFF: What do you hope to accomplish with your full-length debut?
Frances: To continue having this push in a forward motion. I think a lot of different things could happen. The longer I am in the business, the more I don’t know what’s going to help or work for us. I think our biggest goal this year is to get more industry people on our team. Get a legit booking agent, or tour opening up for someone who’s bigger than us, or get the right indie label behind us. We’re not trying to get on a major label necessarily, I just really like the idea of owning as much of our music as we can. But we definitely would love the support of the right independent label … [or] getting the songs on a really big Spotify playlist would be amazing—goals that feel tangible to me.
RIFF: What themes did you encapsulate on the forthcoming debut album?
Frances: As far as the content and what the songs are about, it’s really all over the place. There’s a few songs about my ex-boyfriend, because I’m good at writing slightly angry songs. Most songs are about my view of the world around me. The biggest thing we’ve focused on this month is all about gentrification and Nashville. Just the changes I’ve been watching in my neighborhood, and the changes specifically in East Nashville. It makes me really sad more than anything. When the tornado came through, a lot of people came and mixed it up. It was always culturally diverse, with artists, the African-American and Latino communities coming together. I moved into that in 2006, and I loved it. Losing that diversity makes me sad; all these new people are moving in and raising the prices of housing. While all those people that made East Nashville cool have lived here for 40, 50 years and are now being pushed out.