The frontman, rhythm guitarist and songwriter of the Gothic Rock band gives us an insight into his approach towards the industry and how setbacks in his past are only pushing him further forward.
Forming from the ruins of their previous band, Spellcaster, Idle Hands have conquered extensive territory in the mere three years since they formed. From selling out records in just one day to sharing a stage with Gothic metal legend, King Diamond, Idle Hands are only just getting started.
Chatting to the band’s frontman, Gabriel Franco, earlier this week, the vocalist shares his thoughts on songwriting, the music industry and how he constantly strives to learn from his past mistakes.
This interview comes following the release of the band’s second EP, Don’t Waste Your Time II, earlier this month. Scroll down to check out the full interview!
How are you? Thank you for taking the time to sit down and chat with us!
“It’s no problem at all! I’m doing alright, How about yourself?”
I’m doing very well, thank you. How are you coping at the moment with the current pandemic?
“For us its a lot of sitting at home writing music. We still have to travel a bit for studio recording because we’re working on album two right now. Everyone is at home too which is weird… normally I’d be at the house by myself. I’m doing music full time right now but it’s kinda hard to work in an environment where there’s just people around constantly.”
For anyone who hasn’t come across you before, could you introduce Idle Hands, for example: who your influences are and what makes you stand out from the crowd?
“Well, without trying to sound too vain or describe myself too much, Idle Hands is a band that decided to form after my old band, Spellcaster, fell apart. The idea behind it was to write whatever I wanted and whatever comes from the heart… Idle Hands was the result.”
“I was into old school heavy metal like Iron Maiden and all that stuff, but also Sisters Of Mercy and Depeche Mode. I never thought of mixing the two- I just wanted to write heavy metal music that was a bit more melodic and melancholy. When I tried to sing, I realised that my strong range is lower and that’s how we got the mix of what people are calling us which is “a goth-rock, heavy metal fusion kind of band”. So that’s what we are.”
Of course, your latest EP, Don’t Waste Your Time II, came out just a couple of days ago, What was it that made you want to release this previously unheard material now?
“Well, it was supposed to be released two weeks ago on June 28th. That was the two year anniversary of the first EP which would’ve been perfect. Two year anniversary. Don’t Waste Your Time II. Two songs. But I had some delays in the studio which pushed back the release because we needed to get proper promotion out there.”
“They had just been sitting in my back pocket for years and I had always wanted to record those songs. I never had the time because the band was moving so fast last year and the year before. Now I finally had the time so I said: “screw it, I’ve got nothing but free time on my hands so I may as well go into the studio and finish the stuff and put it out.”
“It was fun. A nice little project and I’m proud of the final result. It looks like people are enjoying the songs.”
It must be a relief to still release new music, despite the lockdown, rather than being forced to put it on hold.
“Yeah, despite the lockdown I’ve been busy musically, maybe even more so than in previous years because I’m working really hard on getting the second album finished. I got around 22 songs that I need to work on so it’s very labour-intensive work.”
“It’s like a fifty part process. Like putting together a puzzle but you can only put the right piece in at the right time. But once it’s done, it looks good.”
You’ve captured such a unique sound and made yourselves heard across the industry in such a short span of time. Would you say your time in previous bands has shaped your experience of the industry and affected the way you write/play music?
“Yeah. A few of us were in Spellcaster for seven years before it fell apart. We toured around the US like ten times with that band and went to Europe with that band. I used that experience as a lesson on how NOT to do certain things. [When the band fell apart] I had three options: I could either continue working at this shitty job and make $25 an hour for the rest of my life, I could go to school and try to get a better job… or I could keep playing music.”
“I was stuck for a while, then one day I had an epiphany. […] That’s when I made the decision that I wanted to be a musician for the rest of my life, come hell or high water. Idle Hands came out of that and the experiences that we endured with our old music helped 100%. Failure is the path to success.”
“We learned so much from our mistakes, so that’s why, when we started Idle Hands, we were able to do it right. We had an entire year of planning in 2018 before we even played our first show. The result of that was because of all the hard work, songwriting and promotion, our first show was packed and people were singing every single song along with us. I had never had that experience in my life- It was like a movie! Ever since that, the shows have got progressively better. We went to Europe and our album sold out in one day and the people there were singing every word to the songs- singing louder than me! It was absolutely mind-blowing and I couldn’t appreciate it enough, it’s totally humbling. I think we have a bright future ahead as long as the band and myself continue to work as hard as we have been… and we are.”
“You can’t be afraid to fail in whatever you’re doing because, when you fail, it’s a good lesson. It’s better than anything that anyone else can teach you because you’re never going to do it that way again. I’m glad it’s working out for us… but there’s still a lot more to do.”
Do you think that the current tumultuous circumstances are affecting the music you’re currently writing?
“I think it’s coming out in the music whether I know it or not. That usually happens subconsciously and you recognise it after. There’s been times in my life where I’m extremely depressed and I don’t know it until it passes. […] It’s like that right now because of the sheer uncertainty of the future mixed with the monotonous day-to-day drag of everything.”
“It’s affecting the songwriting. It’ll be for the best though… trouble and turmoil always bring out the best in music. I’m proud of the stuff we have at the moment and I know it’s going to be a good album.”
The future of the music industry is up in the air right now. Do you think the situation with COVID-19 will affect the way people perceive music and impact live performances?
“I’m hoping that’s the case. People are starving for live music again.”
“I’d like to believe that next year there’s going to be a hundred world staking albums put out there but, to be honest, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think the good artists will shine as per usual and the bad won’t… whether that’s me or not, who knows. […] I’m fortunate that I’m not in a conventional band because I write everything in my room and I can work alone- we don’t need band practices to get things done.”
“Songwriting has never been work to me, it’s probably my favourite process. I enjoy songwriting more than I enjoy touring and my favourite days are when I come up with a sick riff or finish a really inspired piece. The only day that even comes close to being parallel to that is the day when the track is released. […] I’m not huge about being on the stage, to be honest, I don’t like having a load of attention on me and I’m always kind of relieved when I walk off stage because I think “that’s another one done”. It’s nerve-wracking to me but that’s just my perspective.”
Has it gotten easier over time for you to perform?
“Yeah. [I] don’t make a big deal out of things. If somebody fucks something up or if I fuck up, I don’t mention it, I don’t need to.”
“There’s nothing I hate more than watching some packaged, plastic, click-track performance by a band that you know did the exact same thing as they did in the last city. I want it to have a sense of authenticity to it. When it comes to live performances I’ll mess around with what I say to the audiences- it’s supposed to be fun. You can tell when it’s rehearsed lines they’re telling you.”
For current fans of yours, what exactly can we expect to see from you in the future? Are there any plans to evolve your sound or take a new direction?
“A little bit of both! It’s going to be our sound that’s evolving! When you hear it you’ll know it’s Idle Hands.”
“The music is going to be pretty much the same but with a few twists and turns here and there. More keyboard and piano. Where I’ve really evolved though is with the lyric writing and vocals. Expect some weird lyrics because I’ve always been huge into poetry and I like it when it gets a little weird.”
Amazing! Is there anything else you’d like to add or discuss before we draw it to a close?
“Expect some big announcements at some point. I don’t like to announce announcements but within the next year there will be some cool stuff going on with us!”
Don’t Waste Your Time II is out now and available on all streaming platforms.
For more information on Idle Hands, check out the feature piece on the band here!