When an artist finds themself free to express exactly who they are, listeners hear that passion and joy in the final product. Whether the artist was formerly constrained by genre or by self-imposed rules, it’s nearly divine when those barriers are lifted. Pittsburgh bassist and songwriter Mick Francis experienced this lifting of artistic restrictions during the creation of his first solo EP, the aptly titled EP0.

For years, Francis has been a hired gun in the Pittsburgh scene. Touring with acts like Gabby Barrett and The Queers, Francis has certainly proven his commitment to rock and roll. While singing in a band called Lotus Kid, Francis felt the pull towards something different. Lockdown provided the perfect opportunity for Francis to begin a new chapter. He describes his quarantine era as one devoted to “becoming a better recording engineer and listening to old Synth Pop records in my room.” Both of those pastimes have proven worth the investment on this new EP.

EP0 begins with “Be Ur Man,” which channels prog and pop into a synthy, groovy masterpiece of an opener. With big bass flourishes and a ferocious guitar solo, Francis’ music sounds like it could have been written anytime in the last 30 years. “Cut Off My Head” channels sounds from bands like The Cure or R.E.M., but manages to infuse a modern pop sensibility into every hook. “She Doesn’t Want Me” has that indie pop jangle, but adds layers that test the limits of genre. “When I’m Feeling Ur Touch / Red Beet Soup” sounds like a Prince b-side at first, but then divulges into an experimental, modulated-bass sonic bloom.

Francis has condensed years of listening and playing into four songs. It’s clear the passion this artist has for creating interesting, engaging work that defies expectations. Recalling the recording process for EP0, he says, “I was like a kid at recess. I could do whatever I wanted.” The joy of creation infuses every second of this EP with dynamic, mind-altering musical excellence. Let’s hope this joy carries Mick Francis to more releases in the very near future!


How do you find satisfaction in creating music? When can you tell that a project is no longer serving your interests?

Honestly for as good of a question this is I might have a silly sounding answer.

My satisfaction in creating music is just getting to sit down and do it. I play bass for a living. I’m constantly driving to gigs and working with people musically in some capacity almost every day. In the back of my mind I’m hearing song ideas non stop. I’m involuntarily creating vocal hooks, guitar solos, basslines, chord progressions, etc. in my head constantly. This music thing is life or death to me. It’s the only thing that matters and what I base my self worth on.

Rewarding myself by working on Mick Francis material is how I self indulge and spend “me time”. I just let it happen like a sneeze. The “satisfaction” is in finding the time to actually do it… but songs just flow through me. The real enjoyment is surrendering to the process and watching something appear out of thin air.

As far as telling how long a project has served my interest goes… I’m constantly changing. I often go back and forth on what gets me going. I just want to work on stuff that gets me exited for the music. If I catch myself only being excited about the potential “success” the music might bring, I start to prioritize other more stimulating things.

What new tricks did you learn while recording these songs, musical or otherwise?

The trick is trust your gut and let the creative juices flow.

I created these songs in the studio entirely on my own terms and I learned that I should always make whatever kind of music I want to hear. Based on feedback I have been given, the more self indulgent songs seem to resonate the most with listeners. In the past I used to worry about what others would want to hear and in turn I was less happy to be a musician before I recorded these songs. Being my own audience makes the most sense to me right now.

Can you recommend some good synth-pop records?

I’m a bit of a stickler on the term synth pop. However:

The first 3 LP’s from The Human League are my absolute favorites and are performed on only synths and vocals. That’s the real deal. Dare! has been the one of the biggest influences in my life.

Violator by Depeche Mode is a ground breaking record that I love to death. It does contain minimal guitar.

Songs From The Big Chair by Tears For Fears and Peter Gabriel’s third record (Melt) are records I am constantly referencing that use all kinds of combinations of traditional performance based instruments with sequencing, synthesizers, and early forms of sampling.

The self titled A Flock Of Seagulls record was a big influence on my music also.

She Doesn’t Want Me is a tip of the hat to Space Age Love Song.

What do you hope listeners will take away from these songs?

The most ideal thing would be for some person to listen to it and feel completely aligned with it. Like it just makes sense to them on a primal level. That would be cool. I made this music for my ears only….so if somebody really gets it and connects with it then I guess it’s doing its job as recorded music! I’d like my music to be perceived as honest, it was recorded honestly so it’s already done its job for me. If others enjoy it I am happy. If people hate it that’s fine!