Tom McClung is a busy guy. Even though he’s no longer playing bass in the now-defunct WU LYF, he still makes tangy pop tunes with Los Porcos. And that’s only when he’s not crafting his own hint-of-melancholy pop under the moniker Francis Lung. That project’s upcoming two-part release, Faeher’s Son, is dropping sometime this spring, so I caught up with McClung to chat.
Over the mediated oceans of Skype, phone and email, Tom and I mused on language, the innate weirdness of all-acoustic sets, and the difference between Francis Lung, singer, and Tom McClung, songwriter. In the meantime, McClung tells me he’s “working on new music, finishing mixes and trying to find a black Stratocaster.” So maybe you’ll find him perusing your eBay account one day soon. When he has free time, that is. Can you explain the themes behind Faeher’s Son?
Some of the more conscious themes I’m aware of in Parts I & II of Faeher’s Son include: age, selfishness, revenge, ungratefulness, romantic longing, non-romantic longing, frustration, victimization and the personal solemnity of introspection in a public place. It’s a collection of music originally intended as a gift for my faeher (“father” in a phonetically transcribed Scottish accent), but I’m now planning for it to be made available to a wider audience.
What influence do lyrics have on your music? Is that how you usually begin writing?
I love great opening lines to songs, words that sound and feel great to sing loud (or very quietly) and of course, great closing lines. Like famous last words. Sometimes I start with the words, sometimes they come after. I guess I’m always trying to write something I haven’t heard in a song before.
How do you think your process changes when you’re working alone as opposed to in a group?
[Alone], I’m freer to try weirder stuff and be really impulsive about decisions. It can be a much faster process if I feel confident about the direction a song is going in, or far slower if I run out of ideas and there’s nobody else who can pick up where you left off. Other people tend to come up with stuff you never would’ve thought of, different perspectives. Working alone, you have to come up with those alternate perspectives yourself.
I know you recently played an all-acoustic show, and were somewhat hesitant about it. Why was that?
I don’t want people to see “acoustic” as “intimate boredom.”
Fair enough. How is Francis Lung different from Tom McClung? What would his high school yearbook superlative be?
I’m trying to separate the singer from the songwriter. Francis Lung would probably be Most Likely To Dress In Monochrome.
So, did you ever find the “A Selfish Man” dancing guy?
Not anywhere locally, no. But he did email me back when I asked who he was. Although I still don’t really know.