Francis is probably best known as the drummer and lead singer of the 80’s group It Bites, but since then he has gone on to record ten studio albums and enjoy solo hit singles, including American Life In Summertime. Contrary Life asks him about his plans for his current tour and what he’ll be up to next.
You have hand-picked the venues for this latest tour, why is that?
The show that I am performing is not a good match for the normal rock venues that are scattered across the UK so I needed to find venues that didn’t have a bar in the room or at least would close the bar during my performance. The Gulley Flats Boys show is much better suited for art centres or yoga centres. The best venues for this show would be a sit down theatre, the type of place you would go to see a stand up comedian or a broadway show.
What should people expect from the tour?
I always try to produce a new show each time I tour so they should expect something new and exciting. It’s an extremely thought-provoking show about the middle passage or the mid-life crisis.
You’ve worked with various musicians during your career, including Ian Brown and Elton John. If you could work with anyone, who would it be?
I would love to work with Joni Mitchell, I think the work she did on her CD Travelogue was probably the most accomplished piece of work form any artist over the entire history of music. I wasn’t all that keen on her past work, I realised it was very cool but the sheer emotional weight of Travelogue floored me. I was deeply affected by its weight.
Do you find it harder or easier writing autobiographical songs like those on the Gulley Flats Boys album?
I can only really write songs based on what I experience. The Gulley Flats Boys may be my story but it also contains every one else’s story as you will find out when I talk about the songs at the show. It is an archetypal CD about the middle passage.
You’ve been making music a long time, have you ever wanted to do anything else?
I already do a whole bunch of things. I have been a practising astrologer for twenty years, I am a devoted father, I train horses, I am a psychology student, I am gaining my doctorate in psychology, I am writing a book and I have a girlfriend. I am a producer, a songwriter and a guitar player… I think that’s enough for now.
What will you be doing after the tour?
I have a ‘Francis Dunnery Cruise’ from New York to Bermuda so I will be playing a few songs, doing a few astrology charts, giving a few songwriting seminars and teaching a few guitar clinics. I will probably sun bathe for 4 minutes.