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The Band

Based out of Tokyo, Japan, Life After Failing began life in mid-2004 when Justin Leclair looked for other players to form a jam band. The beginning line-up consisted of two guitars, bass, alto sax and drums. In early mid-2005, the band also added a keyboard player for a while; alas, his participation in the project was short and sweet.

Although the group primarily worked as a 5- and 6-piece ensemble, March 2005 began seeing the core rhythm section of Justin Leclair (guitar), Trane Francks (bass) and David Watkins (drums) working to refine material on its own. With other members missing from rehearsals more and more, the core trio soon developed a taste for working on its own and the material took on a characteristic edginess that was missing from the sound of the band as a larger unit.

In June 2005, as the other members amicably withdrew from the project due to personal reasons, Life After Failing officially became an instrumental trio. At that point, the band moved forward with the textural musical vision that had been developed by Leclair, Francks and Watkins. It wasn't long before the trio realized that the material had become strong enough to warrant booking a session to record a snapshot of the band's expression of the moment. On August 11th, 2005, the band entered Rinky Dink Studio in Umegaoka, Tokyo and left 12 hours later with eight songs worth of raw tracks that would be mixed and mastered by Francks over the next month to become the band's debut album, Small Light.

An interesting departure from the norm was the band recording Small Light even before it had played its first show. Instead of playing shows, possibly for years, before venturing into the studio, Life After Failing honed its craft and its material in the rehearsal studio. The band released the album on September 23, 2005 at Shinjuku ACB Hall.

The band also has a page at MySpace. If you're a MySpace member, we'd love to have you add us as a friend and subscribe to the band blog: The band @ MySpace and our blog @ MySpace.

Photo: Sam Seghers

Posted: 2005-10-13 10:02 JST

David Watkins (drums)

At the age of 7 David started tapping along to his father's Duke Ellington records with his mother's knitting needles and he thus became "a drummer".  Since then he has played in a plethora of bands, starting with the local boy scout marching band through to his pre-Life After Failing outfit - a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band that went by the name of The Shit Hot Chili Peppers.

David's major influences include Keith Moon, Sonny Payne, Nico McBrain, Will Calhoun, Tim Alexander, Chad Smith, John Stanier and Matt Cameron.

David hails from Birmingham, England and his main role in the band is to shout "Hello, Wembley!!" into any microphone he can lay his hands on.

You can check out his website at

Photo: Sam Seghers

Updated: 2006-01-13 09:07 JST

Justin Leclair (guitar)

Justin is the Pumpmeister of the band, bringing an incurable and unstoppable enthusiasm to everything the band does. Justin loves playing to the point of excluding much else in life. Dave and I love to rib Justin about his trademark-enthusiastic comments "I'm so pumped!" and "I'm totally stoked to play tonight!", but, the truth is, the band would be nowhere as much fun without those good vibes. While it's true that the band approaches writing material as a whole, Justin brings forth most of the seeds of inspiration from which the music is developed. Justin hails from Canada and is fluent in both English and French. Go Justin!

Photo: Nakiko Francks

Updated: 2005-09-27 22:14 JST

Trane Francks (bass)

Affectionately known as Grampino to the guys, Trane brings to the band a serious love of improvisational playing. During his formative years, he spent equal time cranking out to hard rock and jamming the blues as a guitarist, storming through jazz standards as a trumpet player and trying his best to come to grips with hard-bopping walking bass lines as a bassist. Life After Failing brought new challenges to the playing field with the band's uniquely textural approach to the soundscape. "Fleshing out our sound and yet still leaving the music enough room to breathe remains a constant challenge," says Trane. "Every time the band gets together, it's a learning experience."

As a bassist, Trane's main influences include Ray Brown, Jaco Pastorius, John Entwistle and John Paul Jones. John Paul Jones's bass line in Led Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song" was the reason why Trane bought his first bass at the age of 15.

Trane's geek side comes in useful as he records all the band's rehearsals, engineered some of Small Light as well as mixing and mastering the entire album. If you think Trane's bio doesn't sound all that humble, it's probably because he's also the webmaster for LAF and is writing this bit. Trane's, like, Canadian, eh.

Photo: Sam Seghers

Updated: 2005-01-13 09:34 JST