Little Rock-based band deFrance will perform at Hill’s Pool Hall at 9 p.m. tonight; frontman Drew deFrance said concert-goers are in for “a great, fun rock ‘n’ roll show.”
Four years since their formation, deFrance has played 550 live shows; the band is fresh off a European tour that included several stops in England. DeFrance said the band plays two to five shows each week.
In the age of streaming and YouTube, deFrance said the music business has become even harder to break into, necessitating the band’s nonstop touring; the constant touring has also made several line-up changes necessary.
Tonight, deFrance will perform with Drew deFrance on guitar and vocals, Andrew Poe on drums and Connor Roach on bass.
“There used to be major labels everywhere and scouts for those labels and that’s really not even a thing anymore. In this day and age, if you want to be a musician, you have to be a businessperson too,” deFrance said.
Americana meets rock ‘n’ roll, the band’s music touches on themes like rebellion, love and heartbreak and being southern. Their first album, “Home,” was self-produced by deFrance in 2015 when the band formed; in the final track, “Cold Rain,” deFrance can be heard playing with his dog Django as the song fades out.
Currently, deFrance is working with Big Indie Records, a record label based out of London with a studio in Austin, Texas, to release their second album, “Second Wind” on vinyl.
DeFrance said he’s written several albums worth of original music that the band plays at concerts. Up to now, deFrance himself has written most of the band’s music; however, several of their songs were written collaboratively and deFrance said they are currently trying to have more group writing sessions to get all the band members more involved in the songwriting.
For deFrance, his music career started with an obsession with his mother’s acoustic guitar. When he was finally able to take lessons at age 13, he became hooked right away; when his teacher quit a month into the lessons, deFrance stayed the course.
“I remember staying home sick one day and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Austin City Limits was on TV and I remember just like … I recorded the show and just played it back and forth, back and forth and I remember the first time I actually started to play some of his licks that actually sounded kind of like him, somewhat, it was an incredible feeling and ever since then I’ve tried to hold onto that feeling,” he said.
For 12 years, deFrance played with a myriad of bands around Arkansas while also working 50-60 hour weeks as a landscaper. In 2015, on a hot September day, he decided to leave all that behind to form deFrance.
“It was just a bad day at work and I was like ‘I’m never doing this again. I’m just going to do music from now on,’” he said. “When I branched off to finally start doing my own group, it was finally like ‘oh. I can believe in myself; I do have my own voice.’”
Now, despite the band’s constant hustle, deFrance said things are a lot better for him.
“I wake up whenever I want to,that’s pretty amazing. That’s a freedom a lot of people don’t really get to experience every day. I don’t have to necessarily answer to anyone, I’m kind of my own boss,” he said. “Personally, I think that things should be like water and just flow and I’ve always tried to have that experience with my group and with my music.”
Last year, the band opened for Bon Jovi during his North Little Rock tour stop at Verizon Arena. deFrance has played with several other big name acts as well, including ZZ Top, Shooter Jennings and Morris Day and the Time.
DeFrance said that for bands starting out, exposure is the most valuable thing they can earn in the modern era of music.
“Stay consistent. Try to book as many shows as you can and try to get people to hear the music as often as they can. It’s kind of like the lottery: if you don’t play it, you ain’t gonna win,” he said. “Really, it’s just hold your ground and believe in yourself, that’s the main thing.”
Tonight’s show will have a $5 cover charge. DeFrance said the band will also have a merchandise booth with copies of their album “Home” available for purchase.
“I have fun playing music and I just want everybody else to have as much fun as I am,” deFrance said. “It’s good to just get away and dance and be free for a little bit.”
To learn more about deFrance, visit their website, defrancemusic.com.
Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or [email protected]