Rough Francis

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Rough Francis
OriginBurlington, Vermont
GenresPunk rock, garage rock, rock n roll
Years active2008–present
LabelsRiot House Records
Associated actsDeath
MembersBobby Hackney Jr.
Julian Hackney
Urian Hackney
Paul Comegno
Dan Davine
Past membersDylan Giambatista
Steve Hazen Williams

Rough Francis is a rock band from Burlington, Vermont formed by three brothers—Bobby (Jr.), Julian and Urian Hackney—along with their friends Paul Comegno and Dan Davine. The Hackney brothers originally formed the group in 2008 to pay tribute to the music of their father (and uncles') early 1970s proto-punk band Death.[1]

After a few tribute shows, the group began to write and record their own music. The loud screams and maximum volume of Rough Francis still echoes Death—but they also manage to crystallize a unique sound of their own, channeling live energy from 60's garage rock, Motown and 80's Hardcore.

Pre-history: Death and the Original Rough Francis[edit]

In 1973, three brothers, David, Bobby, and Dannis Hackney, formed the rock and roll band Death. The trio recorded several demos in a spare bedroom and in a studio in their home city of Detroit, Michigan. Inspired by the Beatles, The Who, and Alice Cooper, their music did not find a warm response in Detroit's black community, and the band's foreboding name prevented them from garnering much airplay or landing a record deal. In 1976, they pressed 500 copies of a single on their own Tryangle record label to give to friends and radio DJs. Many copies of the record remained undistributed.[2]

The Hackney brothers moved to Burlington, Vermont in the late 70s and changed their band's name to The 4th Movement, turning to Christian Rock. They released two albums under that name in the early 1980s, which were not successful. Disheartened by his band's lack of success, guitarist and band leader David Hackney returned to Detroit while Bobby and Dannis stayed in Vermont to continue playing music together, eventually finding success in the reggae band Lambsbread. David continued to make music on his own under the pseudonym Rough Francis, and with the help of his brothers, released one single before passing away in 2000.[2]

As Rough Francis[edit]

Bassist and vocalist Bobby Hackney's three sons all became interested in punk rock without knowing anything about the rock group that their father had formed with their two uncles in the early 1970s. In 2006 the three younger Hackneys briefly formed a band to cover songs by seminal afropunks the Bad Brains.[3] Meanwhile, Death's 1976 single began to resurface, falling into the hands of ex-Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra and many other record collectors who played it at parties and posted it on the Internet.[2] These tracks eventually reached the younger Hackneys, who instantly recognized their father's voice. Excited to discover this music, the younger Hackneys learned the songs and formed a band to cover their father's and uncles' music.[3] They named themselves Rough Francis in tribute to their late uncle David, who was largely responsible for Death's direction.[1]

Rough Francis's first show was in Winooski, Vermont in 2008. Having enlisted two friends to fill out the band, they played seven of Death's songs for an enthusiastic crowd that included their own father and mother.[2] The following year, Death's original 1975 recordings of these songs were released as ...For the Whole World to See by Drag City, and Rough Francis supported the release by touring and continuing to play the songs live along with some original material. When an article in the New York Times moved Death from obscurity into the limelight,[1] Bobby Sr. and Dannis Hackney reformed Death with Lambsbread guitarist Bobbie Duncan, and Rough Francis moved on to write, perform, and record more original music.[3] They released a 4-song EP in March 2010, followed by their debut album, Maximum Soul Power in March 2013. The final track on the album, "Comm to Space," features recordings of their late uncle, David Hackney, making prank phone calls in the early 1970s using homemade analog delay effects.[2]

The experience of the three younger Hackneys, in discovering their family's music and forming Rough Francis, is documented in the 2012 film A Band Called Death.

Band members[edit]

  • Bobby Hackney Jr. – lead vocals, percussion
  • Julian Hackney – guitar
  • Urian Hackney – drums
  • Paul Comegno – guitar
  • Dan Davine – bass

Former members[edit]

  • Dylan Giambatista – guitar
  • Steve Hazen Williams – bass


External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rubin, Mike (12 March 2009). "This Band Was Punk Before Punk Was Punk". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e Corvino, Mark Christopher and Howlett, Jeff (2012). A Band Called Death. Drafthouse Films.
  3. ^ a b c McCardell, Reade. "Rough Francis on Fewsh". G-Town Radio. Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2013.