Bobby Hackney Jr.
Rough Francis is Bobby Jr., Julian, and Urian Hackney, brothers and direct descendents of the early punk band out of Detroit, Death. The Hackney brothers, along with guitarist Dylan Giambatista and bassist Steven Hazen Williams, make a hard, fast-paced rock atypical of their Burlington, Vermont base. The Who and MC5 are influences, as are sounds from both the British Invasion and Motown, but Death remains the band’s biggest inspiration; Rough Francis even got Death’s 1976 album …For The Whole World To See re-released through Drag Records, around the same time the band began playing their own high energy stage shows in late 2008. Having released their debut EP last month, Rough Francis is now on its way towards a career very much its own, with a feature in the New York Times under its belt, a mention on Spin.com, and an opening slot for Mos Def.
R&G: Can you talk about the history of the band?
Bobby Jr.: Sure. A lot of people think that it all started when we first heard Death, which is partially true. Honestly, it all started when my brother Jules went out traveling for a long time and ended up in California. He started to get a little homesick. We were calling each other a lot, talking about music and stuff like that. We thought of maybe putting together a band because he wanted to come back to Vermont. I said, “Yeah, if you come back to Vermont, we should totally do a band.” Shortly after that we started finding out about the Death stuff. At that time my father was getting a lot of phone calls and emails from random record collectors. They would just call my father’s house and say, “Hey, are you Bobby Hackney from Death?” He’d say, “Yeah. How did you know about that? That’s so weird.” He had no idea that anybody would know about the band. At first he would ignore the calls and not pay too much attention. After a while, more calls and emails started coming in. Then he started talking to my brother about it. My father started to tell Jules the story of Death and what they’d done when they were younger. Then we started talking about it and we were like, “Woah, we really have to do a band now, because this is a sign.” When we heard the music, we were just blown away: shocked and inspired. I always remember the day that I first heard those songs. It was a very moving and touching experience.
R&G: Were you and Jules planning on putting together a punk band prior to finding out about Death?