Marcus King Talks with Neal Francis on the Talkhouse Podcast

Kitty cats and demons and green-room dicks.

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast, we’ve got a conversation between two young performers who are just this week starting a huge tour together: Marcus King and Neal Francis.

King is a blues-rock prodigy who, at 26, already has a lifetime of music under his belt—both as leader of the Marcus King Band and, more recently, as a solo artist. Though he wasn’t alive for the 1970s, King clearly has an affinity for that decade, with nods in his music to players like Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top. He’s earned a huge following over the years, which makes sense since he’s been gigging since his teens. King’s first solo disc, 2020’s El Dorado, earned him a Grammy nomination, and for the brand new Youngblood he once again hooked up with producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. It’s a scorcher. Check out a little bit of “Hard Working Man” from Youngblood, from a recent performance on Jimmy Fallon’s show.

Neal Francis is similarly enamored of 1970s sounds, though he leans more toward the funk and soul sides of things. Francis was in a band in his hometown of Chicago called The Heard, but graduated to more sophisticated sounds as a solo artist: Think Sly Stone and Elton John and you’re on the right track. His latest album for ATO Records is called In Plain Sight, and it was partly inspired by Francis’ time living in a haunted church in Chicago. Check out “Problems” from In Plain Sight right here.

What both Marcus and Neal’s records share is a little more seriousness than you might immediately hear in what sounds like party-friendly music. Both have had their bouts with substance issues and messy breakups, and those things make it into their songs. They’re both also really interested in ghosts, as you’ll hear: King isn’t sure whether alcohol made him see a demon, but he’s definitely seen it. They also talk about growing up bluesy, how David Lynch might translate into music, and the time-honored tradition of drawing dicks on dressing room walls. Enjoy.

This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: right, Pooneh Ghana; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

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