Photo: Lynn Thiesen

On Deck: Francis of Delirium tell us about five covers they played in bars around Luxembourg in the early days

Last Friday, Luxembourg-based Canadian-American duo Francis of Delirium released their Wading EP. It’s their second extended play in less than a year, but even in that space of time it shows considerable growth. While Chris Hewett’s instrumentals have become more ambitious, it is the continued maturation of the band’s young leader Jana Bahrich that is really pulling their sound into bigger and better places. Across the four tracks on Wading, they showcase multiple modes of their guitar-led assault, the sheer size and emphasis of their hooks already seeming to envision a time when they’ll be playing to tens of thousands, who’ll scream Bahrich’s pained words right back to her.

For now though, they’re still in their early stages, and for their version of On Deck, Bahrich decided to let us in on Francis of Delirium’s earliest days as a cover band on the Luxembourg bar scene. This is truly where Bahrich cut her teeth as a performer, and went through an involved musical history lesson it seems, and the influence of these greats can certainly be heard in the confident music the duo make today. Take a look at Bahrich’s picks below, but before that enjoy Wading highlight “Let It All Go”.

Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”

[ATO; 2012]

Brittany Howard is probably one of the best vocalists of our time. In terms of tone and range, everything is just insane. If you’ve ever listened to this song, there’s a part where she goes so high and sings “yeah you gotta wait” and 15 year old me could never belt it the way she did – but you bet I tried and I tried in public.

Playing all of these songs live was the most fun I had ever had, and being pretty bad at performing for a long time was a really important experience for me, especially because no one in the audience cared. Doing these little shows in small bars with five people listening gave me a chance to grow and figure it all out on my own time.

Tracy Chapman – “Give Me One Reason”

[Elektra; 1995]

This one was a disaster. The song is incredible and I love it, but I had yet to learn how important it is to change the key of a song so that your voice can actually cut through the rest of the instrumentation. When we played this song it pretty much was just four minutes of drums and guitar and only occasionally some vocals would pop through. We played this at the first ever show I played in front of people and I’m pretty sure I blacked out, I was so nervous. 

Led Zeppelin – “Whole Lotta Love”

[Atlantic; 1969]

This was the show stopper, let me tell you. It was consistently the song that ended the set. You would be surprised by how much people loved this song; at least I was surprised that people loved it because I’d never heard of it before we started playing it.

Bob Dylan – “Subterranean Homesick Blues”

[Columbia; 1965]

I always enjoyed playing this song even though I’m pretty sure I messed up the lyrics every time we played it. I think it took me a year of performing the song to finally get the rhythm right. I love songs that are lyrically dense and a bit of a challenge to sing, so this was always a fun one.

Queens of the Stone Age – “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret”

[Interscope; 2000]

So much of what was important to me about playing music with other people is that you would get new song/artist recommendations each week that broaden what you listened to.

Someone suggested we cover this song, and the whole Rated R album quickly became one of my personal favourites. There’s a song on there called “Better Living Through Chemistry” which is probably my favourite QOTSA song. We also used to do a pretty mean cover of “Go With the Flow”.

Francis of Delirium’s Wading EP is out now on Dalliance Recordings. You can find the band on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.