Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Twenty-one-year-old British troubadour Benjamin Francis Leftwich has just completed his first tour of the United States. For the tour, this rising British star was joined by an Australian band, The Jezebels, who after winning over their homeland are now, like Francis Leftwich, trying to make it overseas.
“It was possibly the best two months of my life. The shows were great and I love The Jezebels all to bits equally and I am such a fan of their music I cannot speak highly enough of them,” explains the softly toned Francis Leftwich.
“We started on the East Coast of the states, went up and did a couple of weeks in Canada and a top the cross of America until we finished on the West Coast. The shows were like anywhere between 100 and 600 capacity venue.”
The young musician from York now let’s on that his positive take on Australian music is slightly biased.
“My perception of Australian music is that I love it. I don’t know if you know but I am actually half Australian – my mum was born in Sydney and I have Australian citizenship, I have visited a couple of times. One of my favourite bands is Augie March, I love Pete Murray and I thought a couple of the Faker songs were good in a fun way. Augie March’s song Dogsday is one I particularly love.”
Late last year Benjamin Francis Leftwich released his debut album Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm to much critical acclaim with him being compared with Mumford And Sons as well as the stark confessional song writing style of Nick Drake and like Drake, Francis Leftwich was born with the urge to make music.
“To be honest I have never had that specific moment where I’ve been like, ‘[Being an entertainer] is what I want to do’. I love what I do and am really proud of it and the reason I get up in front of people is that I am proud of my songs and want to share them with people,” he states plainly before adding, “I’ve never had that stars in the eyes moment to be honest.”
Francis Leftwich’s Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm was written just before and during his completion of his education and as he explains, this was a time in his life that offered much fodder for song subject matter.
“It’s my first album so I guess like anyone you have your whole life to write your first album. I wrote the album between the age of 17 and 20. For me the album is a selection of stories and moments from me growing up. You know friendship and love and kind of that feeling of being at the start of a journey. I was finishing college when I wrote it, and not really knowing where I was going to go so for me that’s the kind of fibre of the album.”
And it doesn’t take William Shakespeare to figure out that the album’s title is a variation on the classic allegory ‘calm before the storm’ and so explains Francis Leftwich.
“A lot people ask me what the title specifically means and for me it is that last moment of calm, when you’re in a place you know, before you set off into the next stage of your journey. Specifically the song Butterfly Culture captures the essence of that anxiety for the future – the not knowing.”
However, don’t think Francis Leftwich is some sort of nervous wreck who is afraid of the unkown. While being aware of the risks of going it alone, he is certainly not afraid to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. This is evidenced by the 21-year-old's first tour to Australia. “I’m coming with two acoustic guitars and I think I am travelling by myself. I’m going to play my songs the way I wrote them which is me and an acoustic guitar.”
If you are planning on going to see Benjamin Francis Leftwich at The Northcote Social Club next Tuesday make sure be feels comfortable because he might play something special: “It depends on the night, I don’t put any covers in my set list but if I am feeling a specific vibe at a gig then sometimes I will include a cover, I do an Arcade Fire song sometimes Rebellion (Lies) and sometimes a Springstein song. I only cover songs I really, really love so if I am feeling passionate in the right zone then sometimes I will play it.”
BY DAN WATT
BENJAMIN FRANCIS LEFTWICH plays The Northcote Social Club on Tuesday July 17. Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm is out now on Sony.