Album Review: “Last of the Romantics” by Magic Eight Ball

I think everyone, not just music lovers, has their go-to albums to blast while doing everyday tasks… for me it’s cooking, cleaning, and getting ready to go out on the town. They are albums that have a lively beat, and clear and memorable lyrics that are easy to sing along to. I’ll play them over and over and never get tired of them. I just found my new go-to album.

Baz Francis is an amazing writer, he creates fetching guitar riffs that accompany captivating lyrics and put together you have a recipe for an album full of songs that stay with you.

Last of the Romantics has something that sets it apart from everything else that not just what Magic Eight Ball has done, but everyone. The legendary Rik Mayall, known for being the rude, crude, nose-picking arse in The Young Ones, is discernable as the first voice you hear, giving a colossal introduction to the album. He makes a couple more appearances including the very end, which I had to rewind to make sure I heard what I thought I’d heard. Ahhh good old Rik!

Each song has its own allure, the upbeat anthem “Come Get Your Kicks” (watch their video : to the melodic “Red Hair Wrapped Around Her Neck”. I knew after hearing their debut album, Sorry We’re Late… we were in for something special and we were not let down. As Magic Eight Ball’s audience grows, I hope their catalog does too. In the meantime, download your copy here:


Lost & Saved

I never watched the show LOST when it was on TV but recently decided to on Netflix. I was watching this one episode where one of the characters, Charlie is playing the piano and singing a couple of lines from a song he wants to write with his brother and I got a flash of memory in my head from an interview I did over the phone several years ago for INCLINATION with Nik Frost and Ray Blanco from The Bangkok Five. They were putting out a covers album, which due to their song choices and unique way of playing is one of the best covers albums I’ve ever heard. They’d also just dropped a single called “Saved (Charlie’s Song)” based on the lines played on this show. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Nik: We’ve dropped two singles; we’ve dropped Saved, which isn’t really a cover. We’re huge fans of the show Lost and there’s a really cool episode when Charlie, one of the best-loved characters sings a song to his brother. They’re going through a bunch of stuff, heroin, drugs invading their lives, changing the communications between them, a lot of tension there, he sings the first couple of lines to his brother and that’s all you hear. It’s not even a verse; I think it’s a verse into a pre-chorus. And everybody was looking for that song, we were looking for that song, I think we found one version and it was terrible

Ray: Basically a girl sang it over and over, way slower. It sounded like a dog got ran over by a car.

Nik: So we were at the studio, Sandbox in Los Angeles, Hollywood and Ray played me this song and I was like “This sounds like you, dude” and he was like… cause you know Ray sings as well.. “No it’s this” and he was playing it on YouTube. So we sat down and wrote this song. We realized, it was amazing, it was quite transforming because the song and the character, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Lost and the character of Charlie but he’s a heroin addict, he’s a desperate wonton heroin addict and at the time of recording I was actually doing a lot of partying and probably one of the worst hangovers of my life while singing that song. So there’s a real cool clarity and reasoning behind that song and writing the song. It was very therapeutic and now hearing the song, I’ve changed my ways and cleaned up a little bit and obviously that has a lot to do with where are at today.

…and here’s the song!

Any fans of the show will really appreciate this! 

For Immediate Release:

Press Release from Baz Francis of Magic Eight Ball

Making a record is always a unique experience unto itself, and also subject to external events overlapping and often interrupting the process. It is a well-established truth that nearly 4 years ago I met someone with whom I feel like I have flourished within my recorded work alongside, that man being Dave Draper. Once we finished making the ‘Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait’ album I felt a variety of things, but most strongly that I could happily make another album with Dave straight after the first, and secondly, having got Donnie (Vie) to perform on our first album, there was no harm in asking other people whose work I cherish to feature on Album #2.So, back in January 2014 I began work on our sophomore album with Dave back at Tower Studios with the songs I already had in mind for it and with a bunch still to be written. Unlike ‘Sorry We’re Late…’, I wrote a fair chunk of this collection once the sessions had already begun, and that is why it’s actually quite poignant for me to listen to it at the moment, because it literally documents the last 2 years of my life from within that period that has just ended. Dave confirmed my judgement of him to be spot-on once again, and it is so terribly deserved that he should be fulfilling musical dreams elsewhere in his life right now with his beloved Hey You Guys and Kerbdog, amongst others.

Then there’s the part which most people will be interested in hearing: Rik. As I started this process at the beginning of the year, I sought after my huge comedic love to read my poetry on the album. Imagine my joy and surprise then when Rik Mayall’s agent agreed to this on his behalf. It turns out that our first album had made an impact with someone for whom I am so proud to have worked with, and now is finally the right time I feel to celebrate and share the wonderful gift of laughter he provided us with. Rik’s role here and the timing of him leaving us will no doubt make this album a curiosity for a lot of people, but this is no sombre affair, and any newcomer to us on this record will be introduced to 10 songs that I adore with all my being, three of which happen to feature the funniest human ever to have walked the Earth.

When it came to filming a first video for the album then, I wanted something that tied in with both the theme of the song in question plus also the overall area of inspiration for a great many of the songs here as well. For ‘Come Get Your Kicks’ then we addressed the subject of love from the angle of the punishment that often goes with the pursuit of the former, and with the song and S&M-tinged video for it we discussed how fake bravado and real pain both stem from something far more common than bondage: boredom. In order to emphasise this I wanted to put myself in a position of genuine discomfort, and we were blessed on the video shoot by the presence of fetish model and adult actress extraordinaire Miss Zara DuRose ( delivering the blows whilst Oly Edkins at Bravo Oscar Productions committed us to film once more. The video is a must-see for anyone who enjoys listening to our music or just seeing me getting hit around the face repeatedly:

If it wasn’t for the music underneath it all though our videos and outfits wouldn’t serve any real purpose to Magic Eight Ball, and so to Dave, Rik, and the music itself; I love all three of you and send my eternal thanks once more. Now it’s over to you all to enjoy and judge our work for yourselves.

A proud man and still an old romantic at heart, Baz Francis on behalf of the evergreen Magic Eight Ball.

Magic Eight Ball’s new album ‘Last Of The Old Romantics’ shall be available to purchase on 10th November 2014 through Magic Cat Records.

You can Pre-Order the CD version of the album right now at: purchase the track via SMS, text COMEGETYOURKICKS to 85888


Interview with Jarrett and Greg from “Shades of Fame”

Shades of Fame are a Chicago based duo with an extensive musical background. Jarrett Michael and Greg Hale both bring their individual talents and experience to form a match made in musical heaven. Their first single “Staying Away” features Blind Melon’s Brad Smith and Souljunky’s Chris Hess and is a beautiful blend of toe tapping American style music and relevant lyrics. I can’t wait to hear what comes next!

MAG: Can you give us a little background on your musical careers?

Jarrett: Greg and I have been in and out of the music industry since the late 90s. We both found radio success in the early 2000s with some of the bands we worked in and for.  To name a couple, “Searching 4 Charlie” (Jarrett) “Almost Rosario” (Greg). After both of our bands separated we decided to team up and see where it goes.

MAG: How long have you two been working together?

Jarrett: Greg and I started working together in 2009. Been going strong ever since. We work weekly in the studio on new song ideas and arrangements

MAG: What does the name “Shades of Fame” mean?

Jarrett: “Shades of Fame” Is a name that represents our music careers as a whole. Kind of like the journey we have both been on while working in the industry. It started off as a joke name at first. We were going to pretend to be 2 English guys with bad accents and wear sunglasses, No joke! We act like that in the studio from time to time. Gotta have fun with what you do, you know?  But it stuck and we love it.

MAG: Tell us about your song “Staying Away” How did you get involved with Blind Melon’s Brad Smith?

Greg: Our song Staying Away first came together in 2010. Jarrett came up with a song idea and brought it to me in 2009. We worked on it for over a year before really finding the sound we were looking for, in the mean while, still working on other ideas.  One night in the studio we came up with a banjo riff and Boom!!! We had a hook… it was catchy too!

Jarrett: Later that week I remember Greg texting me his idea for the chorus: “He staying away ‘cause I never found this dream in a life that’s so low”. I knew then it was a hit. It was something honest and real. We were both working hard on music and hadn’t really caught a break yet. We feel the same way about the song now as we did finding that first Hook.

Greg: Chris Hess is a long time friend of Jarrett’s family, a truly talented musician. When he heard our track he asked if he could sing with us on that tune. We both said sure…come on now, lol. It would be stupid not to let him, he’s so talented. He is the lead singer of a band named Souljunky. All very talented and incredible people. They are in Cinnamon Sound Studio as we speak recording a new album.

Jarrett: My personal favorite of theirs is “Suggestive Magic” A very catchy tune. As for Brad Smith, I was on tour with Revis in mid 2010 into 2011 while Brad was filling in on bass for a couple of shows. Brad and I hit it off and stayed in touch over the years. Greg and I went through numerous bass players before calling Brad. After contacting Brad we didn’t have to look any further. Growing up listening to Blind Melon and having 90s music be such an inspiration to us both, we feel very blessed to have him collaborate with us.  He is now playing and recording in his new group Abandon Jalopy.  We all work in and out of so many different bands. People come and go but the music keeps flowing.


MAG: Is there an album in the future from Shades of Fame?

Greg: Jarrett and I decided to release our songs in singles. Staying Away is our first song, which was released on April 8th with Garden House Records. Our follow up song is called “Radio Up”. We are finishing up a couple vocal tracks then it’s off to be mastered.  We do have a music video for Staying Away coming out very very soon:)  We are both looking forward to the video shoot and release date. Should be a good time. Stay in touch for more info

MAG: Do you play live or are you strictly a studio band?

Greg: Right now we strictly work in the studio honing our crafts as a singer songwriter, producers, and engineers

MAG: What drives your creativity?

Jarrett: True life experiences, digging deep finding out more about who we are, as writers, living in the moment, love and heartbreak.

MAG: If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Greg: Carter Beauford- (Dave Matthews Band Drummer) He’s the man! An incredible drummer. His dexterity is amazing.

Jarrett: Stevie Ray Vaughn- He changed the sound of the blues. If you watch him on video, he never gets lost when improvising, he just goes… That guy was a blues machine. People like that only come around once in a lifetime. If ever. He is one of the reasons I love the blues the way I do.

MAG: What are your plans and dreams for Shades of Fame going forward?

Jarrett: We are building a song catalog for Licensing and Publishing, We are having fun with it as songwriters, enjoying the ride and looking forward to what the future brings

Interview with Raven X

Raven X is a Gothic Death Metal band from Ohio. I originally interviewed them about five years ago for INCLINATION and I’ve always loved their blend of styles. I was very excited to see they had released their debut album “Essence Without Light” and had to catch up with this talented couple!

MAG: You have been working on music together for a long time; tell us how it all got started

Khâos: Nÿx and I were a couple before the thought of Raven X ever existed. I had been playing in various bands and struggling to find the right situation. Nÿx had expressed interest in singing and I thought it would definitely be worth a try because I knew she had a great ear for music and she also had piano training in the past. We called a friend that was a drummer in another band and asked him to play with us so that we could see how she would handle singing with a “live” band. When I was setting levels on the mixing board I asked Nÿx to check the mic. The singer from the drummer’s band was present and when Nÿx tested the mic level with a death growl, she sacred the hell out of him! I knew right then that we were on to something.

MAG: Your long awaited debut album, “Essence Without Light” came out March 2013, how did it all come together?

Khâos: Recording the album was a long, drawn out process that took quite a bit longer than we had originally envisioned. At first, we tried to put together a full band for Raven X and although we played with some very good musicians, nothing ever seemed to really click musically with any of them. We decided that the only way we were going to create the sound we had in mind was to do the album as a two-piece and to record it completely on our own. This turned into a huge project because we had to handle more than just the music and performance side of things. The technical aspects of recording and releasing the album were a learning process and sometimes took longer than expected. The finished product made the long process worthwhile and we are very happy with the final outcome.

Raven X - Nyx (Promo 01)

MAG: I love the title track, any thoughts on doing more of the acoustic style songs?

Khâos: The title track holds a special place for me because it shows another side of our writing style and adds another dimension to the album. At first, I was skeptical if it would fit in with the other songs on the album and be a cohesive part of the overall sound, but when the song was finished we really felt like it added another dynamic to the finished work. I can say that from early songwriting for the next album, I am sure that more songs and sections of songs will contain the acoustic style. We have actually been playing some small gigs locally as an acoustic duo and we have been receiving great response to these shows. The material we play in our acoustic duo is predominantly covers of everything from classic rock to metal songs and we have a lot of fun with it, especially because of the fact that Raven X cannot play live shows due to being a two piece band.

MAG: Your names, Khâos and Nÿx come from Greek Mythology- do any of your songs have a Greek Mythology theme to them?

Nÿx: The opening track “Erebos” comes from Greek Mythology and means “personification of darkness” or the “place between earth and hades”. Erebos is the offspring of Khaos. Because the song is an instrumental that is written and performed by Khâos, the name “Erebos” seemed to be the perfect title for the track.

MAG: What do you listen to for pleasure? Who are your favorite bands and do they influence the music you write?

Nÿx: I listen to many genres of music. I enjoy listening to music from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and also some newer music. I really like the 80’s and 90’s alternative music. I have so many favorites it is hard to list them all. Just to name a few, I love The Cure, Bjork (including the Sugarcubes), Catherine Wheel, Depeche Mode, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Smiths. Some of my favorite metal bands include Ihsahn, Deftones, Emperor, Peccatum, Dimmu Borgir, Gojira, Pantera, Opeth, Crisis, and Made Out of Babies. I guess you can say that they are all an influence on me in one way or another. Sometimes it is just the way a song pulls at my heart strings and at other times it can be the way a singer’s voice sounds or even the way they breathe that can bring me somewhere. Chine Moreno of the Deftones comes to mind for his presence. I also look up to Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. The diversity of his low, powerful growls combined with his beautiful singing voice is amazing.

Khâos: I am into many different styles of music including classical, funk, shoegaze, etc. I would say I probably listen to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as much as anything and his music has become more and more influential to me. I am also a big fan of Prince. I am very inspired by his ability to create all aspects of the music with his songwriting and his understanding of how each instrument fits in on any particular song. His songwriting is truly amazing. I have always been influenced by bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and they continue to have impact on my songwriting. As far as new music, I have been really into Alcest.

MAG: You talked before about getting a bass player and a drummer and possibly playing live shows, are there still plans to go in that direction?

Nÿx: Finding a bass player and drummer to complete Raven X would be amazing. We will always be open to this, but it is hard to find people that are 100% serious about it. Regardless if that happens, we will not let it stop our progress and we will continue to move forward.

MAG: What is your favorite song on the album and why?

Nÿx: All of the songs on “Essence Without Light” are special to me. If I had to pick one, it would be “Angel Of The Night”. It was the first song I had the experience of writing lyrics to and feel and theme of the song came to me instantly and without hesitation.

Khâos: As with Nÿx, every song is special to me in a different way, but if pressed for an answer I would have to say the title track. It has a sound that I think helps to set us apart from other bands and we definitely plan to incorporate more material like this song into the next album.


What are your plans for the future?

Nÿx: We have recently made our first t-shirt design available for purchase and we plan to have more Raven X merchandise available in the near future. We also are planning to record new material during the upcoming winter months. We have both been writing on our own and now we are beginning to merge our ideas into songs. We hope to announce a release date for the new material in the near future.

Raven X - Khaos (Promo 02) Raven X - Nyx (Promo 02)

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Interview with Baz Francis of Magic Eight Ball


Album art by Kay Dougan

MAG: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me at such an exciting, busy time for Magic Eight Ball! Can you believe it’s been four years since our last interview? Last year you released your first LP “Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait” Why did it take so long to put out your first album?

BAZ: It’s always a pleasure to chat with you, Lissy! You’ve always been so kind to myself and the band, and with how we both follow each other’s endeavours online, plus how I’m now Facebook friends with your Dad too, those four years really seem a lot shorter! Regarding our first album though, it was always something to be done when we had the right songs and the right people to record them with. Once I met Dave Draper in 2011 I was really coming into another phase of my writing ability I felt, and the two things combined to make the right time, right then.

MAG: And now we’re already talking about Magic Eight Ball’s second album, with whispers of a third in the works… When can we expect it to be released? Does the album have a title yet?

BAZ: Well that’s the thing, I’ve spent the last few years tying the ends to a lot of ideas I’d had in the works for a while (in some cases), which together with the new songs has created a nice creative flow that I’d not wanted to restrict to just one record. The third album is still a few years off yet I think, but I already know how I want it to sound. The title of our latest album though will be getting it’s grand unveiling in about a month’s time ahead of an early November 2014 release date.

MAG: Please tell us about the folk you’ve collaborated with on your new album- it’s quite an impressive list. How did you get Rik Mayall involved?

BAZ: Well, Dave Draper has been enjoying some success of late through his work with Kerbdog amongst others, but I’ve been working with him and we’ve been good friends for awhile now so that’s how we came together again, then Jase (Bowld, who’s drummed for Killing Joke and Bullet For My Valentine) is an old friend of Dave’s who lives down the road from his studio, so we were lucky to bag him again for the second record too. As for Rik, well that’s a whole other story. At the start of the year I wrote to his agent and sent them both copies of ‘Sorry We’re Late…’ with a view to getting him to read my poetry on our latest effort. Remarkably, after some back and forth we got given a date to record with Rik, and we just loved every second of our time with him. It turned out that our first album had been enjoyed by him and had helped open that totally unique window of opportunity for us. He was so much fun and I think about him every day still.


Baz Francis with Rik Mayall and Dave Draper Photo courtesy of Stuart Anderson

MAG: You’ve had a long relationship with Donnie Vie from Enuff Z’Nuff- what have you guys been working on recently? Also, how did that relationship start? You’re from Surrey, England and they’re from Chicago, USA. Have you played in Chicago and at what venue? Do you have plans to come back over and play?

BAZ: It all started with me meeting the band at their gig in London a few years back and putting my foot in the door long enough to explain that I was a musician too. Next thing I knew we were gigging and touring with the guys from the band, and Donnie and I developed a very unique friendship that lead to us recording together last summer on the first Magic Eight Ball album, his live album that came out February just gone, plus his forthcoming studio record ‘All In’, that I’m just waiting to hear about it’s release date from Cargo Records. As for Chicago, it’s still on my To Do List as all my American gigs so far have been in California. As a big lover of Donnie’s work plus that of Cheap Trick and The Smashing Pumpkins, I feel that Chicago would be right up my street, and I would love nothing more than to play the famous Metro.

MAG: What was the first band that you can remember listening to that made an emotional connection with you and got you into music?

BAZ: Queen were I think the first band to make me want to play music, and Freddie Mercury is still my favourite musician of all, but it was the Manic Street Preachers that made music my life and something that I actively pursued to make so. In between those two though, the first musician I truly came to love and collect the work of was Marvin Gaye.

MAG: When you’re not writing/ playing music what kinds of things do you like to do?

BAZ: I’m constantly on the clock with Magic Eight Ball, I never really switch off from it, but the closest I get to doing so is by watching horror movies or playing this game called Galaxy Balls on my phone whilst I drink coffee. I listen to a lot of music, and factor exciting travels into a lot of my own musical movements too, but see; we’re already back to life with the band!


Magic Eight Ball. Photo courtesy of Kay Dougan

MAG: Is there anything else we can expect in the near future from yourself and/or Magic Eight Ball that we haven’t already covered? Singles, videos, tours/live shows etc?

BAZ: Well, we’ve just filmed a new video with Oly Edkins of Bravo Oscar Productions for a track off our new album, and next week we go back into the studio to finish our Christmas single, with another video for that to follow courtesy of Emil Kunda again. Then I want to gig all over the place to promote the record, hopefully in more new countries like we did this summer just gone.

MAG: One last thing, I also should ask where you shop because you have quite an awesome individual style of dressing!

BAZ: I buy my clothes from the trusty trinity of Ebay, charity shops and old stock buckets of fancy dress!


Baz. Photo Courtesy of Tom O’Donoghue

MAG: Thanks!

BAZ: Anytime for you darling. I have such a lot of time and respect for you x


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Magic Eight Ball: Russian Ballet (Русский балет) (Official Video)

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