Drummer, composer, producer and manager of Scottish bands Camera Obscura and The Vaselines – Francis is a busy man. Last year he released his album ‘Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste’ described by Classic FM as “sublime, minimalist classical music“.
1. What has been the greatest influence on your musical career?
Probably being taken to see The Police at Glasgow Apollo in 1979. I was 8 years old and wanted to be Stewart Copeland.
2. Which piece of music that you have composed are you most proud of?
Hmm. Very difficult. I think January Waltz was a kind of personal breakthrough of sorts.
3. Tell us about your album ‘Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste‘. What highlights and challenges did you experience whilst making it?
I wanted to write music in a new way – partly to see if I could do it. I settled on the ‘palette’ – string quartet, piano and celeste – and I researched the range of the instruments and how best to try and score and voice them and off I went. I had to do a lot of planning and preparing. My piano skills are limited and classical musicians can be expensive so time management was important.
4. How old were you when you learned how to play the drums?
I started playing knitting needles on the couch when I was 8 or 9. I got drum lessons from Alan Parker at The Drum shop in Glasgow from around age 10 or 11. I remember him emphasising the importance of feel/expression: “don’t just get the job done…”.
5. What does 2016 have in store for you and Teenage Fanclub?
I am writing more music, mainly for some TV projects. I have just been asked to arrange something for string orchestra and harp. So that’s exciting. Teenage Fanclub have a new album in the pipeline and will be touring after summer.
And just for fun…
6. Who is your favourite music artist (dead or alive)?
Bob Dylan. He’s out there on his own for me. And with all the other phases I’ve gone through and music I’ve listened to, his music has been a constant.
7. If you could wake up in the body of another person (just for one day) who would it be and why?
That’s a science fiction nightmare! Let’s say Brian Blessed – because he is fearless and fun.
8. You have the chance to time travel to any gig or concert that has ever taken place – which one would it be?
I’d like to have been in the room – with a grasp of fluent Italian – for this speech and encore performance of Va Pensiero in Rome a few years ago:
9. What is your favourite lyric?
Onwards Christian Soldiers is the tune they should have played, But the oompa-man was playing on a piece an’ marmalade. From Adam MacNaughton’s Jeely Piece Song.
10. Tell us something that will surprise us?
I don’t dye my hair.
Read more about Francis Macdonald on his website: www.francismacdonald.com
Follow Francis on Twitter – @FranMacdonald
Listen and buy ‘Music For String Quartet, Piano And Celeste’ on iTunes