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Dan McAvinchey: Thanks for doing this interview for Guitar Nine Alex. So when did you first get interested in guitar, and how did you progress as a player?
Francis Howard: Actually, it was my brother that got me started (the drummer for the band Opprobrium) and asked me to play guitar, so that we could start a band back in the '80s. My brother paid the first 5 to 6 months of guitar lessons when I was 15 years old and then after that, I took it from there and searched and learned whatever I could to improve my guitar skills. Back in the '80s there was no internet, So I had to learn by ear and by reading magazines and watching music videos to catch some new techniques whenever possible.
Dan McAvinchey: Was "Let Your Light Shine" self-released?
Francis Howard: Yes. My debut album is self-released, and it is what I wanted all along. Before coming to this decision, I did send my songs to a couple of labels, but I kind of made the mistake of sending my songs to labels that had a different style of music in their catalog! Many responded back and said they liked the material, but could not sign me because they were looking for a different style of music for their label catalog. So I decided to release it myself. These days it is much easier for a band to record and release their own album without a record label. I really like the freedom that we musicians now have.
Dan McAvinchey: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
Francis Howard: My style is fun, it's 100% original, it's uplifting, and the songs have a party sound to them. I am really happy with this album, the more I listen to it, the more I want to listen to it. This album for me is a hit, I am very happy with it. And the fans are really enjoying it.
Dan McAvinchey: How did you write the songs for your most recent album?
Francis Howard: On this album I did it all myself. I wrote some songs in Tampa, Florida, and then some other songs in ITU, Sao Paulo, Brazil and then some other songs in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My brother did help me with the drums during the recording of the album, as I guided him on how I wanted the drums to sound. My brother Moyses did a great job with the drums, as you can hear on the album. He can play any style of music with the drums and is very professional about it.
Dan McAvinchey: Do you get the chance to play your music before a live audience?
Francis Howard: Not yet, as I am letting the album pick up pace first and then I will play live. These things take time as you may already know. I really want to hear these songs live. I have many plans for this album, and I would love to play festivals and do guitar clinics. It would be a lot of fun.
Dan McAvinchey: Are you using any social media sites to promote your album and music career?
Francis Howard: Yes, social media really helps. I am using various social media to promote my debut album.
Dan McAvinchey: From a publicity and promotion standpoint, what do you find is working best for you at the moment?
Francis Howard: Some social media may not work for certain bands, but may work very well for another band. In this business of promotion, you have to look for what works best. When it comes to promotion, you have to see what are your weak points and your strong points and always concentrate on your strong points to promote the band.
Dan McAvinchey: Why do you think certain music fans prefer instrumental music over traditional vocal oriented music?
Francis Howard: It's a matter of taste that some like instrumental and other like music with vocals. I like both styles of music. I like music with vocals and I like instrumental music. Both styles have a lot to offer to listeners. Nowadays, I see a lot of people enjoying both styles of music.
Dan McAvinchey: Other than guitar-oriented music, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
Francis Howard: I listen to all kinds of music, like metal, movie soundtracks, etc. If it sounds good I listen to it.
Dan McAvinchey: Finally, what are some of your plans for the future?
Francis Howard: If the conditions are right and the money is right, I would love to play festivals and tour the world. But all that takes money, as we all know. So I will wait and see. If a good offer comes in our way, we will tour for sure.
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