Independent singer-songwriter Ben Francis is one of the coast’s most popular and talented performers. FOCUS finds out that he is also a fitness, entertainment and marketing ace.
How did you begin your music career?
My grandfather was a musician and my father is a musician, so I was introduced to music at a young age. When I was 6-years-old, my grandfather taught my sister and I to sing Beatles songs, and we used to perform them at Talent Quests. I remember my Father was also the guitarist in the house band at those competitions.
From that moment on I loved music, and at the age of 10 I learned to play drums and guitar. I decided that playing music was what I wanted to do and from there I began playing and singing in bands through school and uni. I also began to write and record. When I was 17, my band won a Battle Of The Bands Competition, and I began playing venues up and down the coast. It wasn’t long before I was playing 200 shows a year.
What have been the highlights for you so far?
There are a few times that I have enjoyed the most in my career so far. I played a few shows with the Hoodoo Gurus and Diesel, which I really enjoyed, as they were some of the first acts I ever saw live on a bigger stage – and I respected them as musicians.
I also played a headline show at The Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne. It was great to play such a legendary live music venue, and the audience was so responsive.
Another highlight for me was recording at 301 Studios in Byron Bay, where bands like Powderfinger and Eskimo Joe had recently recorded some big albums.
What brought you to the Coffs Coast, and what do you enjoy most about living here?
I was born here and my family live here, so it always feels like home to me. I also love the weather, the beaches and relaxed lifestyle. I’ve spent time living in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and I always missed those things when I was living away.
What’s next on the horizon for you with your music?
I’m currently tracking a new solo album, which will be completed early next year and I’m looking forward to finishing. Then there will be a promotional tour of the East Coast with a new band line up, which I’m also really looking forward to. We’ll be hooking up with some other bands for some bills in the capital cities, which will be great fun.
I’ve also formed two side project bands called ‘Stereo Addicts’ and ‘Amplifires’. I’m looking forward to taking some different musical directions and playing some shows with these bands early in 2012 also. I’ll also be continuing to play my regular Coffs Coast shows, which are still gaining momentum and I’m still enjoying.
We’ve heard you also have some other professions. What do they involve?
I’m also a personal fitness trainer. I own a registered Personal Training Business called ‘Ben Francis Personal Training’, which is located at Beachbodies Health Club at Coffs Harbour Jetty.
Fitness is another passion and interest of mine. I’ve always loved fitness training and have played and been involved with sports like rugby, soccer, AFL, rugby league, tennis and athletics. In 2004 I decided I would turn my love of sport and fitness training into part of my career, and I completed a Certificate IV course at a Fitness Training College in Melbourne.
Then I began working as a trainer in gyms in Melbourne and later Brisbane, before I relocated to The Coffs Coast. I enjoy helping people get fit. It’s great to see my clients getting the results and seeing them become healthier and happier. It’s a rewarding job.
I’m an Entertainment Industry Representative, Venue Consultant, Artist Manager and Marketing Consultant as well. I own a licensed Entertainment Agency and Consultancy based on The Coffs Coast called ‘Ace Entertainment and Artist Management’.
This year I decided to apply the skills, knowledge and experience I have gained in the music industry and during my business degree and provide Coffs Coast Businesses with a professional entertainment booking service and Coffs Coast artists with a professional representation. The business has been going really well, and I have been booking entertainment for many venues and events along the coast. We are representing high quality artists, bands and DJs. The artist roster is also growing, and we’re now working with interstate venues and artists as well.
You mentioned you also have a business degree – where did you study?
I completed a Bachelor Of Business in Marketing at Southern Cross University in Coffs Harbour. The knowledge I gained has benefited all my businesses – and has particularly been of great use for my entertainment consulting business when providing venues and event co-ordinators with the best advice on promotions and marketing.
How do you manage all of these careers at once?
It’s a very busy lifestyle. I have to prioritise and plan all of my activities down to the last detail to get everything done. It also requires a lot of time and effort. I do enjoy all of my jobs, which helps. I also get a chance to take some time out to relax occasionally, which helps as well.
Which is your favourite career – and why?
Music has always been my first love. I love the feeling I get when I’m performing and entertaining people. It’s something that’s always felt right for me. My other jobs are also important and rewarding to me, but music was my first job and I’ve always had a strong connection with it.
Do you have any advice for people wishing to begin working in the music, entertainment or fitness industries?
For those in the music and entertainment industry – believe in yourself, keep trying your best and look for the best opportunities to promote your music. For those in the fitness industry – always do your best to give the best possible service to your clients and help them achieve their specific goals. For all industries – always maintain the highest level of professionalism, honesty, integrity and service to your customers.