With his debut EP 'The Violet Crown' freshly released, we caught up with New England-based musician and artist Mads Francis on 5 stand-out songs that have inspired him. Don't forget to check out his new release at the end of the interview, which includes modern-pop punk lead track 'Beyond the Pines'.
“I Know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers
I’m a sucker for a slow build. The finisher from Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher is a cathartic trip with devastating lyrics and a beautiful arrangement. “I Know the End” takes its audience on a drive through an all-too-familiar dystopia. Its brass-driven callback to the album’s overture is a gut-punch. I’m always in awe of the way great songwriters can capture a feeling. Bridgers is instantly a legend in my eyes—maybe because I gravitate towards her Type 4 energy, but I’m fairly confident that nobody will produce a better piece than this for at least a decade.
“Vomit” by Microwave
When I was tracking The Violet Crown, my recording engineer introduced me to Microwave’s second LP, Much Love. On it is a track called “Vomit.” It feels like running as fast as you can and then being clotheslined… in the best way possible. Lyrically, it’s a sobering commentary on our existence. Sonically, it delivers choice guitar tones, a gripping melody, and an overwhelming half-time finale. The track is a reminder of why rock as a genre is so good at conveying emotion.
“We Looked Like Giants” by Death Cab for Cutie
I credit Ben Gibbard with shaping my deep appreciation for songwriting and helping me realize why it’s so important. “We Looked Like Giants” is one of those songs that’s specific and detailed but well-written enough to be accessible; the audience can connect the feelings in the music to their own and really see a familiar story. It’s extremely visual. The imagery it evokes plays in my head like a movie. I can feel the cold. When I write and arrange, I try to marry acoustic guitars with heavy rock elements. I think this song does that really well. When you can successfully blend those types of sounds, the beauty within is both preserved and amplified.
“I Hope I Become a Ghost” by The Deadly Syndrome
Years ago, in my old band, I wrote the words to a song called “Clocking Out.” It was supposed to be about what it would be like to see the world after you’re gone—specifically, your personal world: friends, family, etc. I thought I did a decent job capturing that sentiment until I heard “I Hope I Become a Ghost” by The Deadly Syndrome. Its lyrics far more efficiently tell the story of a narrator’s thoughts from beyond the grave than I had hoped to. What really elevates this song from good to great is the sort of dueling piano and guitar part that accelerates the story into its heavy second half.
“Dialogue” by Jackson C. Frank
Jackson C. Frank is definitive folk to me. His songs transcend the dividers that manifest between generations. In “Dialogue,” Frank’s tender voice sings of morbid desires. It’s just him and his guitar, but the song’s simplicity is actually what commands my attention. It’s melancholic in a really touching way—not just because of the words, but because of the sounds of the guitar. Frank’s ability to give an inanimate instrument human emotion is what makes this more than just a song. There’s a realness. This is what music can do. The song brings me somewhere physically that I haven’t been to yet. I don’t recognize it, but it’s calming. There’s something both comforting yet terrifying about this place. At the end of the day, “Dialogue” is a statement—it doesn’t operate in the space of musical structure, theory, or expectation. It’s just a peak through the window of a person with a past.
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