What’s the difference between belief and faith? It’s a big question, and one Chicago-based band Fran grapples with on their sophomore album. Online theology classes taken during lockdown led lead singer Maria Jacobson to ask questions about belief systems and how things like social media, relationships, and capitalism relate to religion.
Finding a home for her religious and worldly ruminations, Fran created Leaving an 11-track album that’s a kaleidoscope of grounding moments, existential outbursts, and personal anecdotes underscored by Jacobson’s arresting vocals lying somewhere in between Weyes Blood and Jessica Pratt.
To celebrate the impending release of Leaving, Jacobson sits down with Uproxx to talk Nina Simone, astrology, and a Steely Dan drag show in our latest Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Here’s six: sexy rock you can cry to.
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
I would love it if people were like, “despite how unrecognizable life has become in the past 30 years, Fran reminds me what it’s like to be a human.”
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
Chicago always, but we have had some really great shows in Atlanta! I love playing there.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
I think my close friends, specifically Marlee and Tony. They are the ones who I sent my earliest voice memos to of my earliest songs and they were like, this is great, we want more! You need that kind of encouragement and reassurance when you’re first starting out. I wouldn’t still be doing this if it weren’t for their kind and careful listening. The first Fran fans!
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
Grand Tetons National Park. We went on a gorgeous hike up into the snowy part and then came back down and grilled steaks and veggies on a tiny grill with boxed rice pilaf and whiskey.
What album do you know every word to?
Compare And Despair by Youbet.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
The Cranberries at the Riviera in 2009.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
A suit so everyone knows you came to work today.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
I’m not sure, but I do remember one time that one of my bandmates got rather drunk after our show and insisted on playing Philip Glass on the way to the Airbnb. A strange and hilarious choice for a quick car ride at the end of the night.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
“brandi glanville boyfriend 2023” iykyk
What album makes for the perfect gift?
I just gave my brother in law Little Girl Blue by Nina Simone which I think is a great gift for anyone. It’s one of my favorite albums. I also could sing along with it front to back.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
I think the weirdest configurations are when you crash where the house show just happened because usually you’re sleeping on the floor and you’re drunk because you don’t have to drive and you have to wait for the party to end. We’ve done that in Denton, Louisville, Athens, GA…..
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I had been dating my current partner for about 4 months and Costar told us to get a tattoo together. So we walked to this place near our house and I got a tiny “c” on my knee. I figure if we break up I can turn it into a moon or a circle.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
Lately it feels like anyone who has played my music with me is doing the nicest thing ever. It is a real gift.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
I know it’s hard but don’t ever for one second spend any time worrying about what some dude is thinking.
What’s the last show you went to?
I saw an incredible drag show at Cafe Mustache in Chicago where the performances included “Do It Again” by Steely Dan and “I Want You to Love Me” by Fiona Apple. Also an amazing Chicago musician Fetter played.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
I haven’t had that kind of cable access in a while but I remember one sad spring break in high school where I watched this strange Ashton Kutcher/Amanda Peet movie every day called A Lot Like Love because it was on every day for some reason. It then became one of my favorite movies until I watched it again recently.
What’s one of your hidden talents?
I am pretty good at cutting hair!
Leaving is out 1/20 via Fire Talk. Pre-order it here.