FRAN BASE: The first commercially available release from St. Louis' Fran, Look Out!!! Steely Dan!!! (Rooster Lollipop) is just a 7-inch single, so the majority of readers may ignore it on the way to their next CD purchase &Ñ "You need a record player? Screw that" Ñ but it's a cause for celebration, a loose and alive toss-off that's filled with hollers and shouts of glee, grunts and a glorious chorus during "Fran Hair" that goes something like, "Ooh-ooh-hoo-ahh-ooh/wee-ooh-wee-oh-wee-oh-wee/wee-ahh-wee-ahh-wee-uh-wee." The smartest rock lyrics the city has seen in quite a while.
"It started out just as a little side project for grins," says guitarist Col. Tex Trailer, who uses the pseudonym Tom Buescher in his non-Fran existence (you may remember him from his days with Free Dirt), "and just kind of grew exponentially Ñ just kept getting more and more out there, and more and more fun. It turned into more of a stage-showy type of thing as it grew, too."
Fran's lineup is rounded out by bassist Babs Woof (daytime name: Erin Gulley, of Johnny Magnet) and drummer Leak Ameal (Merv Schrock, of the Deep Perswaysion Orchestra), and this first single includes four songs.
Why a vinyl single when a CD is just as cheap? Says the Colonel: "The fun part of doing 7-inches is doing the recording and the promotion that goes with it, and the artwork that goes with it. We got 200 of them, and we figure we'll probably do another one before we do Ñ we have this dream of doing an audio-visual release someday. It'd be a CD that would have audio and video on it, so it would have video clips and video shorts in addition to the music (laughs). But we don't know when we'll get around to that. One step at a time."
The recording quality on Look Out!!! is low-budget, but it sounds better than your average hi-fi multitrack affair because of all the energy the band exudes. Listen, and it's quite obvious that Fran are having a blast. "We recorded these last fall," says the Colonel. "A friend of ours has an Otari reel-to-reel four-track. We recorded all of them there in a day. When the band first started out, we all brought in stuff that we had and wanted to work on Ñ (the songs were) pretty much wrapped up when we brought them in. The next 7-inch is going to be more stuff that we wrote as a group Ñ off-the-cuff stuff that we pretty much write together. We just put things together at practice and keep them on tape and then (laughs) go back and try and piece them together later."
Fran are celebrating the release of the single at the Way Out Club on Friday, July 23. Says Tex: "Bruk Longbottom from Ouija is making us Evel Knievel jumpsuits for the show. We're going to do a photo shoot Ñ well, the plan is, we're going to be all standing next to the Mississippi with our bicycles, in our Evel Knievel outfits, and then we may have some calculations to the side Ñ how fast we'd need to be going to jump the river." Also on the excellent quadruple bill Ñ you wanna see some fantastic St. Louis rock bands? Ñ are the Geargrinders, the Highway Matrons and Ouija
Send local tapes, tips, discs and detritus to Randall Roberts, The Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Blvd., Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130; or e-mail him at email@example.com.