Interview with Danny Nichols of Three Fourths Francis (St. Louis)

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Danny! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.

CV: Do you feel that it's still possible for an unknown band today to be plucked out of obscurity and make it to stardom? Can a dedicated core of fans sharing their music make that possible or has the internet and social media changed the game?
Danny Nichols:
It is very difficult…maybe impossible.  The music industry was decimated by file sharing and streaming, and record labels no longer spend resources on developing and promoting new rock bands.  I am not sure what the formula is for going from rock obscurity to stardom in the new era, but I am not sure it has happened yet.  There is so much content now, and so little in the way of gatekeepers, the next great band could appear and easily go completely unnoticed.  I believe rock is alive and well, but the era of the mega band seems to be in danger of extinction.  I prefer to see bands in clubs and theaters, but at the same time I would be sad if there were no longer any rock bands left capable of filling arenas or stadiums.   I hope a band will emerge someday though.  

CV: Do you feel that given the accessibility and social awareness of modern times that a music underground still even exists today as it once did?
DN: I can really only speak to the St. Louis heavy metal scene which I am a part of with my other band, Torchlight Parade, and yes I feel there is a scene.  There are a contingent of St. Louis metal bands who are still grinding it out playing clubs and creating great new original music.  I guess the goal is for one band to gain enough notoriety that a spotlight is shined on the whole scene.  I think the axiom of a rising tide lifting all ships is appropriate to the goal of creating a scene at the local level and thereby creating opportunities for all the other bands in the same scene.  This happened in Los Angeles in the 80s and Seattle in the 90s.  Will the next big city be St. Louis? Very unlikely, even though there are so many great bands here, but maybe it happens somewhere.  We need another Seattle.

CV: What do you see as the biggest difference in music and how it is perceived from back say 35 years ago compared to music today? Has both the music and the artist evolved from your point of view?

DN: When music became free it lost value in the collective consciousness, and when it lost value the infrastructure for distributing it collapsed.  At the same time it opened the gates to small independent musicians, and provided them a platform for releasing music. 

It is the best of times and the worst of times.  It is easy and relatively cheap for small bands such as mine to record and release an album and distribute it to the world.  However, because of this, the market is flooded with content and it is very challenging to get noticed or to capture the attention span of the audience.  Radio stations, for the most part, do not play new music.  Rock is alive and well, but the music industry has ceased to support or promote it, instead using their now limited resources only to forward pop bands which are more of a sure thing.  But at the end of the day, we do this because we love the music. 

CV: Do you believe bands and artists who have the biggest impact on fans and other artists are aware that they are or is there more of a tunnel vision sort of process for them keeping them somewhat in the dark? Can influential artists see past their own work to be aware of the ripples they make?
DN: Observationally, it seems like most bands start out being true to themselves and their vision of what music they want to make, but as they reach success, outside factors start to creep their way into the creation process…chasing trends, chasing hits, staying relevant.  Sometimes it works.  Bands like Bon Jovi and the Goo Goo Dolls softened their sound, aged with their audience, and became hugely successful.  But more often than not when a band follows a trend they alienate their original fanbase and still fail to attract the new fanbase they are chasing.  (For them)To stay relevant it is probably best to stay blissfully naive to their own ripples.

CV: Does music need to be influential to be considered worth listening to in your opinion? Or can music simply be just an enjoyable auditory experience devoid of substance?
DN: Influential is so subjective, and value is even more subjective.  Music is entertainment, and if it entertains it is successful.  I think an enjoyable auditory experience is substance, and is an accomplishment in its own right, if it can be achieved.  When music becomes esoteric, with gatekeepers assigning value based upon the complexity of the message or arrangement, then we have lost the narrative.  

CV: The world has been rocked by the COVID pandemic.  The economy has been sent into a tailspin in its wake, unfortunately.  Bands worldwide have been restricted from performing live and for some it seemed, restricted from earning a living.  How has the pandemic affected your band? Are you hopeful that 2022 will see many of the remaining restrictions lifted?

DN: Fortunately, we had finished recording the last tracks in January 2020, so we were able to do mixing and mastering mostly remotely.  The pandemic did contribute to the delays in release a little bit, but for the most part we were lucky with our timing, and did not have to go into a full pause.  It seems touring and live music has mostly returned in 2021.  Hopefully this whole nightmare is soon to be completely over.

CV: What do you feel artists and bands can do right now to stay relevant, especially in an environment, where for some, performing in front of a live audience is limited? What immediate options do you see available?

DN: At the time of receiving this question in October 2021, most music venues have returned to full functionality, so hopefully there is not a step backwards.

CV: As an artist, what have you learned from the events of 2020? Are those lessons learned different for you as a person than as an artist or are they one in the same in your opinion?

DN: I am grateful the technology exists which allowed us to make progress despite pandemic related restrictions.

CV: What's next? What can fans expect to see coming in 2021?
Joe and I have the beginning stages of a couple new songs, but we really haven't begun anything in earnest at this point.  Sadly, our magnificent bass player is just a few months away from moving to Arizona, so we will need to revamp our line-up shortly and then decide on a path forward.  I also have new releases from both my other active bands, Torchlight Parade and Bekmork, expected to be released within the next few months.  

CV: Thank you again Danny for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. It was such a pleasure. I wish you all the best.

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, show host, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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