Synthwave Sunday: Gregorio Franco / War Machine

This Sunday we are going to shine a light on Atlanta’s Gregorio Franco. Most of you probably missed it, but he was actually my first interview for the website! We met up before he opened for GosT and I asked a lot of awkward questions, read questions off my cell phone, and felt like an utter idiot. Thankfully Gregorio is a super nice guy and weathered my rookie Echosynthetic self. I made up for it by buying pretty much everything he had at the merch table, haha. Things have progressed a great deal for Echosynthetic since that time, and by the sounds of his new album, War Machine, they have for Gregorio Franco too. Since a whopping 17 of you were around to read the original interview I’ve included it here below. We’re averaging in the hundreds these days on posts like this and Gregorio totally deserves the attention…So, if you were one my early adopters (thank you!!!) I’m sure you’ll understand.

War Machine opens up by going straight for the throat. Invasion is fast, mean, and ready to strike. Driving synths set the pace early, but it’s not long before a bass hit deeper than a depth charge hits. This sets the true, dark tone for the song, and honestly for the rest of the record. Phantom Rider feels like leather, chrome, and neon lights weaving their way through a nightmare metropolis…red eyes leaving vapor trails in its wake. Halfway through we’re treated to an amazing breakdown, the pace slows…and the layers of music are highlighted well before things pick back up again. Outbreak 2029 is dark, heavy, and synthwave worth banging your head to. Things are obviously going south here, and once the electric guitars hit a little past halfway, you know you’re in the danger zone. This is hard hitting stuff! Nocturnal Rites is a song that any synthwave artist that has seen the underbelly of this genre would be proud of. This is plumbing the dark depths of synth based music in all the right ways. It’s a song that could very well have appeared on a GosT or Perturbator record without me hesitating to believe it belonged there. Just when I think the music can’t get any darker, Gregorio unleashes The Killer. This is by far my favorite song on a release that’s already stacked with excellent synthwave. There’s something about how the layers of harmonies create beauty out of the darkness that I really enjoy.  Mad Pursuit closes out War Machine in spectacular fashion. While the rest of the record has had you banging your head, Mad Pursuit is a body mover. It has a great beat, hooks layered on top of hooks, and it’s a whole lot of fun.

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War Machine is available right now on Bandcamp as a Name Your Price release. Do this guy a favor and throw a few bucks at him. Gregorio Franco is doing good things and deserves your time, attention, and money. He’s been building a strong backlog of music longer than a lot of artists out there in synthwave, and the quality of War Machine proves that.

Now, let’s revisit my very first interview here at Echosynthetic. Here is our conversation with Gregorio Franco! Remember, this was right before he was set to take the stage opening for one of the biggest synthwave acts in the business, GosT.

It’s your first live show tonight. What has been the biggest transition from your studio to getting set up for a live show?

Well, first of all it’s live. It’s something that I’m used to from playing in metal bands, but for this kind of music it’s completely different. The way I have my tracks pre-programmed, translating that to a live show can be daunting. I’ve added a separate synthesizer for embellishments to make it flow a little easier but I’m basically treating it like a live DJ set. It might be a little shaky the first time around but we’ll figure it out. (Editor’s Note: He killed it. The crowd was chanting his name by the end of the set)

Your music hits like metal. What influences have helped you shape that sound?

It’s funny, because initially it was John Carpenter, Goblin, soundtrack stuff. I didn’t really see an inspiration for music until I saw the movie Drive. I saw Drive and at the same time started playing a game called Blood Dragon. Both of those soundtracks together formed this idea in my head, I could do this retro-futuristic thing and make it work.

How long have you been playing music and what drove you toward synthwave?

Soundtracks mostly, especially the ones I mentioned. As far as playing music, I started playing music when I was eleven in orchestras and things like that. At 15 I was in punk bands and then moved on to metal. Now I’m here.

What software do you use in the studio? 

FL Studio 10 Producer Edition with Kontakt5 plug-ins for orchestral sampling along with Serato for the DJ stuff. I also use a MiniNova Synth for embellishments.

What are your plans for your music in 2017?

A lot more music. A lot more music. I’ve got three separate albums I’m working on right now. The last two I released at the same time and that might have been a mistake because neither got more noticed than the other, but that’s okay. I’m just trying to be prolific and make music, make people hear it, and that’s really what my goal is. I’d also like to play another live show or two.

If you could only own three albums, what would they be?

Aja, by Steely Dan. The soundtrack to Escape from New York. Left Hand Path by Entombed

Favorite guilty pleasure song?

I don’t know that it’s really a guilty pleasure but I’ve really been jamming to a lot of FM-84 lately. Running in the Night is like a retro futuristic sound meets Bryan Adam’s Summer of ’69, and I don’t want to like it but it’s so damn catchy.

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