Get To Know Biking With Francis and Their Latest EP "SUNROOF"

Brooks Finby

As a born-and-raised Charlotte native, I was particularly excited to interview Biking with Francis, the North Carolina trio that has been making waves lately.

Joshua Raw, Garrett Sparrow, and Max Leonard comprise the Charlotte-based collective, a lively cross between an indie boy band and an alternative rap group. The trio wears their musical influences on their sleeve, embracing the warm, synth-soaked sounds of Tyler the Creator, Steve Lacy, and Brockhampton. In the past year, Biking with Francis has hit the ground running by dropping three quality EPs: HONEYDEW, BRUNETTE, and now SUNROOF. Their music sounds like the soundtrack to summer, and this new release is no exception. I spoke with the trio at length about the making of their latest EP, their Wendy’s origins and go-to Cook Out orders, the terror of driving on Exit 38, and much more.

I read that Biking with Francis was formed when Max and Garrett started at UNCC. Could you tell me the story of how the duo became a trio with the addition of Josh? 

Max Leonard: Garrett and I went to the same high school. We started making music together about five years ago, around 2019. We were doing it just for fun. We were going to move away to college, but then Covid happened so we both took a gap year. We got a house and made a bunch of music together while working boring ass jobs. We were going to share a distributor, and all we needed was a combined email. I had put out a song called “Bike” and Garrett made a project called “Francis,” so we were like “Biking with Francis” is a cool name for a group. We had always wanted to make a collective or a band. 

Anyway, I was making a bunch of beats, and I texted one of my buddies if there was anyone who could hop on it. He sent me Josh’s Instagram. I was scrolling through it and saw our school’s mascot on there. I was like, “Oh shit, he goes to Charlotte!” The first time he ever came over was to my parent’s house over summer break. We made music for a couple of months—

Joshua Raw: Yeah, a long time before we decided to make it a thing thing.

Garrett Sparrow: So long story short, we invited Josh to the Wendy’s on campus in the student union. We sat him down and told him that we would like to form this trio where he’d rap and we would produce. We always joke about how different our perspectives were. Max and I were coming to Josh wondering if he would want to join us like, “Does he think we’re cool enough?” Meanwhile, Josh was coming into it telling—

Josh: I was telling my ex-girlfriend, “No way they want me to do this thing with them. They must have some other interest in whatever I have going on.” So both sides were nervous about inviting the other to the situation, even though we both wanted to work together.

Can you describe your dynamic when it comes to creating music? What’s your creative process like? 

Garrett: Josh is the rapper, of course. But he also does a lot. He’s so talented at drawing and has such good artistic taste. Max is very good at Photoshop, so they make a great team for graphics and anything in that realm. Max and I are both producers and singers. All but one, maybe two, of Biking with Francis songs are produced by us. 

Max: We always try to service the song. Garrett might come to me with a whole beat made, and there’s no need to add anything. Or, I might keep the first half and re-do the second. It depends on the song. 

For each of y’all, how do you balance your solo work with your group work? How do you avoid creative burnout?

Josh: We’re all in different places with our solo careers. Some people want their entire discographies deleted—me. But, in terms of prioritization, we all feel Biking With Francis is our priority. The solo work is more of a self-servicing outlet. It’s where we can make something that feels like us and not really care about how well it performs. It’s more of a passion project. Biking is the priority, but that’s not to say our solo work isn’t important to us. It’s more so that it’s not our focal point for where we invest our time and energy. 

Max: We’re each making music all the time. We’ll be making stuff for ourselves and then realize, “Hey, this would make a cool Biking song.” Like, I might have made a beat, Josh will throw vocals on it, and then if we add a bridge and this and that, then it could be a Biking song. The music-making side is open-ended and really whatever comes to us, but the promotion and marketing side of things definitely goes toward Biking.

Can you tell me more about what SUNROOF means to you? What steps did you take to innovate from your previous EPs, BRUNETTE and HONEYDEW?

Garrett: We took a trip to Kerr Beach at the beginning of April with plans to start the third and final EP of the trilogy. We also came into it intending to make music for the album, so it felt like a more intentional and focused process. But, something different that sticks out from making this EP is sampling. We found a website for sampling with pre-cleared songs. There’s a whole lot more technical stuff that went into our sampling, but Max and I had a field day making a plethora of beats using these samples. We’re usually instrument-based, playing them all and composing it, so this EP sounds a lot different because of the sampling.

Yeah, I could tell. I thought I heard a Charlie Wilson sample on the first or second track. That OhH, OhH. I can’t make the sound. 

Max: Yeah, I know what it was. The intro. Yeah, the intro when it switches like Ohhh, Ohhh. 

Josh: Like what?

Max: Fuck what you heard.

Josh: Oh!!

Garrett: Also, the writing too. With Honeydew, we would listen to the beat and write our own verses to ourselves. But with this, we were a lot more collaborative and helped each other with lyrics and melodies. So that definitely bred something different.

For each of y’all, what is your favorite track off SUNROOF and why?

Josh: It switches for me, but overall, the Outro track, "Roomie" – lowkey about my romantic situation. Sonically, it’s more cinematic and feels like a very satisfying ending with a good crescending moment at the end. 

Garrett: "House Party." It was the last song we added, so maybe it’s recency bias. Also, my older brother Logan did some guitar at the end of it, which was so cool and special for me.

Max: My favorite is "Roomie." I like that one a lot. My close favorite would have to be "Flang." The second half of the EP I love. 

With this being the third and final EP of the trilogy, where’s your head at for the debut album? Will it be a similar sound or something totally different?

Josh: We’ve talked a lot about it recently. We have basically completed what we set out to do at that Wendy’s—making three EPs in the first year. We’re essentially at that year mark now, so now there’s space for us to decide how we want to move forward. We want to take enough time for the album to really have a moment.

Garrett: Yeah, we want the album to be big. We’ve set the bar high with each EP. So for the album to be bigger than the EPs, it needs to be a well-thought-out piece of art. We want to sit on things and experience life together to drum up some more inspiration for the project. 

Max: I mean, we put out 20 songs in a year. That’s a lot of music.

You’re on that 2017 Brockhampton energy!

Max: That’s the goal. Full disclosure, right now we have no idea of what it’ll be. But, that’s just how it is. We don’t want to rush it. It’ll come naturally. Until then, we want to continue putting out music. We have a lot of different styles and genres we enjoy. Expect more singles in different flavors until we go album mode.

Now, I want to move into my North Carolina-specific questions. Okay, what’s your late-night Cook Out order?

Garrett: Oh shit!

Josh: My order is pretty basic: chicken strip tray, double cajun fries, and a big Cheerwine or sweet tea.

Garrett: Okay, big double burger tray with bacon, cheese, quesadilla sauce, and cajun seasoning. Cajun fries, cajun wrap, and a huge Cheerwine. The most bang for my buck.

Max: I’ll do a big double burger tray—

Josh: He saying it like he’s ordering.


Max: So I’m gonna get a big double burger with cajun seasoning, A1 steak sauce, cajun fries, hush puppies, and a big ol’ cup of that Red 40, that huge Cheerwine. 

I usually go chicken quesadilla tray, hush puppies, cajun fries, and a shake. It all merges into one blob.

Max: It turns into one giant rock in your stomach.

Yeah, it congeals. And it’s always right before bed too so it just sits there overnight. 

Josh: After the first headlining show we did, my legs were paralyzed from being on stage so long and jumping around. Matt, our manager, had to hand-feed me cajun fries to revive me. 

My next question is also fast-food related. Fuck, Marry, Kill: Chick-fil-A, Bojangles, and Cook Out.

Josh: Alright. Kill Cook Out, marry Chick-fil-A, and fuck Bojangles.

Garrett: Marry Chick-fil-A, kill Bojangles, and fuck Cook Out.

Max: I’m fucking Cook Out for life, I’m marrying Cook Out. Then I’ll fuck Chick-fil-A for the one time, and I’m killing Bojangles. That shit destroys my stomach. 

I’m marrying Chick-fil-A, fucking Bojangles, and killing Cook Out. So the same as Josh. 

Max: But you don’t go late at night to Bojangles to fuck. You go to Cook Out.

Josh: So Cook Out is the sneaky link.

Garrett: True!

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about living in North Carolina, or more specifically, Charlotte?

Josh: My favorite thing about North Carolina is that it’s a Top 10 state. We have good colleges and college sports, good weather, good cities, the mountains, the beach, everything. As a state overall, it’s fire. The only thing that sucks about North Carolina is that the music scene is pretty mid compared to other Southern states, like Georgia or Tennessee. We should have more going on for being such a valid state.

Garrett: I really like the city of Charlotte. Durham and Raleigh too with Cary and Hillsborough. Only thing is damn, I’m always scared for my life. It’s just not safe in Charlotte. Even though we’re totally fine, that’s always hanging over my head.

Max: My favorite thing is the weather. The summer is hot and humid, but fall in North Carolina is absolutely beautiful. The winter is nice and not too cold. My least favorite thing is the drivers, but that’s more of a Charlotte-specific thing.

There’s that one exit around Uptown, on that circular highway with like five lanes. It’s the most dangerous exit, I swear. You have to risk your life to get off it! It’s a death trap.

Garrett: It’s 85 to 77. Exit 38. I know the exact one. Oh my God, it’s the worst. 

Max: Charlotte drivers would rather hit your car than let you get in. It’s ridiculous. 

Okay, finally, are there any NC artists you want to shout out?

Josh: Shoutout Weston Estate. In high school, they were the first people I knew from Carolina to make music. They put us on. They let us open at their show at The Ritz.

Max: Rohtwiq. He’s got a lot of different types of songs, from Lucki-type shit to soul-chopped, Seafood Sam-type shit. ISOMEANSWAR too. He’s got a song called “Call the Plug” that’s fire. Also, Big Baby Gucci. Mavi. Tia Corrine. Curtis Waters too. We got a solid little scene here. 

Any other last things you want the people to know about?

Garrett: Look out for merch!

Josh: People have been asking us for a long time about it, but we’ve been pretty picky about it. We want it to be fire. We’re excited to finally share it.

Check out Biking with Francis’ latest EP, SUNROOF, available now on all streaming platforms.

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