Brisbane ensemble The Francis Wolves are a rare breed of funk musicians, eschewing the genre's normally bright, upbeat sounds for a darker edge drawn from their roots in garage rock.
Led by founding bassist Brian L'Huillier, the group started as a trio called Soul Mechanics performing the duties of house band at Gertie's before expanding into an eight-piece juggernaut.
“We got to a stage were we were thinking about putting some horns to it and beefing things up, but instead of going the funk route, because we've played in garage rock bands all our lives, it got a bit darker and a bit more dangerous,” Brian says.
“As opposed to being pristine funk like The Bamboos or something like that it had that dark, garage band undertone, which was good for us at the time and even now because there weren't too many funk bands doing it.”
Their slinky, creeping timbre is best exhibited in their track 'Gothic Surf Club' from their self-titled debut album released last year. “That song, when you break it down it's quite a simple idea; it's based on the blues progression without the V chord. It's really simple but quite dark as far as all of the engineering on the guitar, and the sounds of the horns are really nasty, which I love.”
Ostensibly an eight-piece, Brian says the ranks of The Francis Wolves can swell to ten or more for live performances. “We love throwing in extra percussion and we've had a few horns players come in and play at various times and if they turn up to a gig they'll often get up on stage, which we love.”
In October, Brisbane audiences have the chance to see The Francis Wolves in action when they perform as part of the Livespark concert series presented by Brisbane Powerhouse.
For Brian, whose day job is teaching music at an all-boys school, the Livespark shows are special because it's an opportunity for everyone to enjoy great music regardless of age and cost. “The fact that people go to Livespark, look forward to those bands and actually trek into New Farm for it is really good,” he says.
“Plus it's free and all-ages as well, and I think Brisbane definitely needs more all-ages gigs. The looks on my students' faces whenever they see a big band coming to town and then they work out it's at The Tivoli [Theatre] and they can't go, their hearts break every time.”
With time moving inexorably further away from the release of their 2016 debut album, Brian says he and the band are preparing new material for their next album that they hope to release sometime next year. “Writing has started with myself and a few of the other band members, so fingers crossed we'll be ale to start recording over this summer.”
The Francis Wolves play the Livespark series at Brisbane Powerhouse 8 October. They also play Caloundra Music Festival (Sunshine Coast) 29 September and Cafe Le Monde (Sunshine Coast) 22 October.