Musically, Josh Francisco is a busy man. He plays guitar in 3 brands spanning multiple genres. “I play in a local cover band named Old 97, a thrash metal band from Greensboro, NC called Blood Ritual, and a death metal band from Richmond, VA called Blazing Tomb,” Francisco said. He has also logged many miles, touring the States and Europe with a few other bands. “It’s a lot of driving, but it’s worth it.”
Music caught Francisco’s ear after hearing his uncle playing the drums. “But the deal was done after my mom gave me and my brother a copy of AC/DC’s Back in Black. I fell down an AC/DC rabbit hole. Angus Young was my idol, which shortly changed to Randy Rhoads after seeing the music video for Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train.’” He cites those influences as inspiring him to appreciate and play music.
Francisco continued learning his craft by studying guitar legends of the eighties. Along with Rhoads, he mentioned George Lynch of Dokken and Zakk Wylde, another guitarist who got his start with Ozzy.
Given the influences, it’s no surprise that Francisco is a metalhead. “I’m a massive hair metal, heavy metal, and thrash metal fan, but I also love death metal, outlaw country, and southern rock. I am not one of those ‘I love all kinds of music’ people. I like to stay in my lane.”
Going down the road of being a musician can be a hard path, but Francisco is fortunate to have supportive ride-alongs. “My family and my wife have always been very supportive. My friends, as well. I’m blessed to have had nothing but support from the people surrounding me,” he said.
Performing is a form of relaxation for Francisco. “Playing guitar is like a mini mental vacation. There’s nothing like learning new songs or trying to write new riffs. You have to be completely present and ignore all outside distractions,” he added.
Like many creatives, Francisco is rarely happy with the first take of a project. “Sometimes I simply ‘feel’ like writing and can write easily. Most times it feels like pulling teeth.” Collaborating with his bandmates to produce a finished product helps to clear blocks in the creative process. “The moment when everyone realizes we’re onto something never gets old. Input from others is key.”
Seeing bands he loves also sparks his creativity. “Live music has the most effect on me. But most times I’ll randomly play something I like, and then build on it. There’s no secret sauce, just play.”
Perfection is a tall task, but growing as a musician is the key. And to grow, you have to play. Francisco continued, “Be persistent in practicing. Set aside time to get better. Don’t be complacent. But most importantly, have the guts to say, ‘Yes’ to opportunities that may scare you, challenge you, or make you uncomfortable.” If Francisco hadn’t said, “Yes” to his friends and hopped in a van to tour the country, he wouldn’t have the experiences and stories to tell. “I’ve been to so many places I never would have seen without music. Europe, up and down the East and West coasts, etc. Some places were beautiful… some were not, but I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.”
Francisco has a full plate ahead. He plans to release a new record with Blood Ritual, write new music with Blazing Tomb, and continue to have fun locally playing with Old 97. “I love every second of playing music and sharing the fun with others. If you’re local, keep an eye out for Old 97 and come say, ‘Hello’.”