You probably haven’t seen Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers from the vantage point of a lat pulldown machine, but chances are good you’ve caught the duo on a local stage –– Frenchie, the nickname of French-born guitarist Kevin Sciou, moved up here from Austin last April. He and drummer Pete Coatney have been playing as often as they can, in both FBD and as part of the backing band of major country troubadour Jack Ingram.
As a point of information, Ingram is who actually gave Sciou his nom de guerre, though when you speak with Frenchie, you’d probably come up with that moniker on your own. Though he’s lived in the United States for nearly 20 years, that accent is, well, c’est permanent. And just as indelible as the way he pronounces his vowels are the blues licks he absorbed as a teenager, choogled over his brain by his dad’s records and the classic rock pantheon. “I’ve always been into blues and rock ’n’ roll,” he told me over the phone. “I’m not a storyteller. I love simple lyrics and old rock ’n’ roll rhythms.”
His tone was matter-of-fact, but I think that sells his new album kind of short. It certainly adheres to blues formalism, but Frenchie still writes songs and his chops reference the same honkytonk DNA that makes Keith Richards sound the way he does. Praise often ambles into Rolling Stones’ neighborhood –– the album’s fourth track, “I Long to Come Home,” reminds me of the melancholy parts of Goats Head Soup, and the C&W slide guitar and mid-tempo lope of “Find Another Fool” sound like parts of a song that didn’t make Exile On Main Street because that album was already long. But then there’s “Never Meant to Hurt You,” which could easily follow a Michael Kiwanuka song on KXT, and “Sweet Remedy,” which rolls over an upbeat country shuffle like a Kurt Vile jam minus the stoner-y production.
Frenchie and Coatney recorded the album at Audiostyles with Taylor Tatsch, who produced their 2018 debut, Love and Blood. Besides a great relationship with Tatsch, Frenchie said working with him made the most sense, given that Praise doesn’t reinvent their sound in any dramatic way. “It’s a continuation of the first record,” he said, “though we did go for making a bigger record, with piano and more solos –– the stuff we don’t do live because we are a duo.”
I asked what he typically wrote about, fishing a bit to see if the omnipresent news-gloom had infected his songwriting, but my line came up empty. “I mostly write about women,” Frenchie said with a laugh. “I moved from Oklahoma to Austin after a breakup. I meant to stay there for six months, but I was newly single, and I ended up staying for almost a year and a half.”
Austin’s grind got to him, though. “I like the pace of life [in Fort Worth] better. Down there, there are so many bands. You try to get people to come to your show, and they’re like ‘What’s your band? Maybe I’ll check you out and see.’ That’s why I like Fort Worth. People just like music here, and they’ll probably come see your band just because, you know?”
Frenchie’s Praise drops Friday across the usual digital channels (all of which are helpfully compiled at Bluesdestroyers.com and at an album release show at Shipping & Receiving and a bonus performance on Saturday at Magnolia Motor Lounge. Their calendar is full for the next four weeks, as they play all over North Texas, culminating with a show in Austin on March 26. They’ll take a break for a few weeks to play some Jack Ingram gigs, and then they have a couple of shows at Sundown Granada on April 23 and May 20.
“Some people, they worry about success and making it or whatever,” Frenchie said. “But you know, we’ve done that, and we just want to play all the time because it’s our passion.”
Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers might never make it to the TVs at the gym, but in your headphones and up on a stage they rock like they’re the biggest band in the world.