This week’s featured Meet The Band artist is the Portland, Oregon metal/gothic group Idle Hands. They just released their full-length debut album Mana. Vocalist/guitarist Gabriel Franco introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Idle Hands.
Gabriel Franco: I started writing the music after the break up of my old band Spellcaster in summer 2017. I released one track (“Blade And The Will”) in January 2018. I got a well paying job, and decided 2018 would be my year of suffering to prepare for 2019. So I worked my ass off around the clock writing, recording, emailing, and setting up touring plans for 2019. We released the Don’t Waste Your Time EP on June 28th. By September we had secured an EU tour with Tribulation, Gaahls Wyrd and Uada, as well as a West Coast USA run with our friends in Haunt.
In November we tracked drums for the full-length record Mana and I spend the rest of that month doing pre-production. We got into the studio in December and finished mid-January, literally approving mixes hours before we left to tour with Haunt. In February/March 2018 we did the Tribulation run. Our first bus tour, and as I speak now are are on week two of a 7 week run in Europe supporting Mana. I am still writing every day for the next album. The band is tighter than ever, and we have several large tours to announce later this year.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
As I said we recorded drums in November, and our bassist at the time wasn’t working out. So it was just me and our engineer Gabe in the studio most days tracking the whole thing for six weeks. It started to feel like an actual job. But Sebastian was also there a ton, providing leads and rhythm guitars, delicious Mexican food and moral support. But all in all Mana is myself, Sebastian and Colin.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Bleak but fun. I wanted to write it like a late ’90s/early 2000s pop album. The songs are unapologetically simple verse/chorus tunes that generally clock in at 3.5 minutes. This was done on purpose. I want to express as much as I can in the shortest amount of time possible. No fat, no filler. No pretending I am some crazy deep “artist” who is better than the common man. I’m just a dude writing music I want to hear and don’t like bullshit as much as the next person. You wont get bullshit from us.
How did you come to sign with Eisenwald?
My friend Jake from UADA recommended I check them out. They were honest, trustworthy, and offered us a real deal that wouldn’t fuck us over. Too many of the large labels want you for life, and know that the majority of small bands don’t have the knowledge or resources to navigate their way through a jargon-rich record contract. So they throw these 30 years to life 85/15 their favor deals at bands and offer you a 5k loan to record your album in return.
Almost anyone who is trustworthy or has decent credit could go to their local bank, relative, friend for that loan and record themselves. Or just wait 6 months and have the whole band save up to pay it. So what these labels have is just that. A label. Their name. Most of them are too comfortable, and that’s why I am with Eisenwald. We have the same goals in mind, and together, we can grow and give these supposed “leaders of the industry” a run for their money.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
My goal for the year was to be four times as big as we were when the year started. Then repeat that every year until I can’t. Of course this is no easy task, but I work towards it every day. I hope the album does well, but either way I am very happy with the way it sounds and managed to impress myself, so I can sleep at night either way.
What has been your most memorable Idle Hands live show?
We played last week in Essen, Germany to a sold out crowd of 400 people. The crowd was going insane chanting “Idle Hands” in unison. That was so far our biggest show as a band.
What are your upcoming tour plans?
We are in Europe for the next few weeks. Then home for a couple months before Playing Psycho Las Vegas in August, a small west coast run, Vancouver Island Metal Fest the next weekend. Then a month on the road with a great band on our level. Followed by some much larger stuff in the winter. All info is listed on our Facebook page.
How did you get started in music?
Music was never big in my family. My mom listened to Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, my dad listened to Earth Wind & Fire, Tina Turner and Whitney Houston. In middle school I started listening to Blink-182 after receiving an album for my birthday. But I really gained interest when my friend showed me Cradle Of Filth covering “Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Iron Maiden. I had no clue that music like that existed. I didn’t even know who Iron Maiden was either. I loved the song so much I had to learn it. After that it all went downhill and I was into music for life.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
My first four favorite bands were Cradle Of Filth, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir and At The Gates. I listened to them on repeat for the entirety of high school. Of course I started my own melodic black thrash” band but eventually made friends with some musicians who expanded my view into the older bands who got the metal genre started. Priest, Maiden, Motley Crue, Thin Lizzy etc. Everything evolved from there and at this point I’m all over the place.
What was the first rock/metal concert you attended?
When I was 15, a girl I liked was going to an August Burns Red show at the Hawthorne Theater in Portland. So I went to lay on the moves, I think I tied my shirt in a knot and pretended I had boobs. She’s my wife now. But the real first show I cared about was Cradle of Filth in 2007 on their Thornography tour.
How’s the heavy music scene in Portland these days?
Death, doom, stoner rock, hipster stuff. Pretty homogeneous and played out, in my opinion. But it’s always been that way. I am very lucky that we have been able to carve out a niche of fans who just want to come to a show and enjoy themselves. Portland is very nice to us and we are extremely grateful.
What was the last thing you binge watched?
Prohibition documentary by Ken Burns, World War II documentary by Ken Burns (for the 10th time or something) and my comedy stuff: Bill Burr, Gabriel Iglesias, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Rick and Morty.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Disintegration by The Cure, Down Below by Tribulation, Raised On Radio by Journey.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Our debut full-length album Mana is out now via Eisenwald records. Catch us on tour across Europe and the USA all 2019. We are doing just about 150 shows this year and will be updating online when we are allowed to announce!
(interview published May 18, 2019)
Listen To Idle Hands – “Give Me To The Night”