- interview by Carl -
First of all if we can talk about the recording process for the new album. Can you explain the process involved in recording and putting together this record?
Alex: When we were touring last year we were talking about how we wanted to record the next record and something that we didnt want to do was to step straight into the cold professional atmosphere of a studio. We wanted to return to more the kind of environment that we had when we got the band together. That was just a case of going round to each others flats, with whatever instruments we had, hanging around, writing tunes, playing music, in a place that we felt comfortable. Around about October last year we hunted down a house, a little bit south of Glasgow and it seemed to be the right sort of place. It was in the countryside, there were four rooms for each of us to stay in, and a big room that we could all play music in together. So thats what we did, rather than go into the studio we got some equipment and recorded everything down there. Then we went over to New York and thats where weve been mixing the album, in a studio called Avatar.
So your last show of over a year and a half was in Glasgow a week before Christmas in 2004. How quickly after that did you begin the process in earnest of making the new record?
Paul: In the middle of January we started getting together. The end of January?
Alex: Over that whole period we were still going round for each other, and talking about ideas. For me a lot of the tunes that are on the record were written in January when we had a bit of time off. It was a gradual process as well, so we went down to the house to start off with, when we first got it, when there wasnt any furniture in it, and we just slept on the floor. In fact we had a couple of guitars with us then, didnt we? Yeah that was January because I remember it was freezing.
Nick: We got the fire going.
Alex: Yeah, we had a coal fire.
So how long in all did you spend in the place south of Glasgow?
Bob: February to May.
And you had enough equipment there to record the album the way you wanted to do it, and to a level you wanted to do it?
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. All a recording studio is, is a room or a building with some gear in it where you can record stuff. Anywhere could be a recording studio. Were not the sort of band that relies heavily on banks and banks of special effects of unusual equipment. In fact the way we recorded the album, we very much wanted to have the sound of the four of us playing in a room together. We wanted to capture some of the energy or the rawness that we have in a live performance, and we definitely got that down there. I think you in that in songs like Outsiders. We were talking about this earlier, the idea that even though it very much a dance song, with a distinct dance rhythm and dance drum part. Its Paul playing the drums live throughout the whole song and the whole band playing the song live which gives it its feel. As an experiment we took that track and arranged the drums and put them into a sequencer so that everything was bang on the beat, and it just didnt sound as interesting. When we first started recording, when we first started arranging anything, we had this idea in the back of our heads that we wanted to have this locked in but human kind of feel to it. So again sticking to the idea of using the dynamics of dance music but having that slip and pull of a live band playing the music.
Throughout the worldwide success you had, and the constant touring you seem to have had time to still write songs and amass ideas.
Alex: Definitely. If you keep writing and creating new things it becomes boring, and youd turn into a covers band, covering your own songs and youd become sick of it. So what we tended to do was everyday wed set aside a couple of hours or so, often in sound check, so wed be on the stage that we were to play the gig that night, wed play new songs that wed written wed go there with ideas. Also things like dressing rooms, Ive got recordings from San Diego for example, or Minneapolis.
Nick: Yeah, yeah absolutely. It keeps it going doesnt it?
So when you finally went into the studio, how many songs did you have in some form of ship shaped ness?
Alex: I dont think any song was totally complete, every song that ended up on the record evolved in one way or another. There are quite a few songs that weve been playing live. By the time wed stopped touring last year there was Im Your Villain, Well That Was Easy, Your Diary, This Boy, anyway there were a few different songs that wed been playing in live sets, and there were quite a few others thatd been played amongst us, like a song like Walk Away for example, wed never played that as a band together before we got in the studio, but we all knew it and wed all been talking about it and what we wanted to do with it.
A normal recording studio might not be the most conducive place to write songs given that they are by definition quite functional, windowless places. The fact that you were in the Scottish countryside, relatively near home, did you find that was a good creative environment to finish off songs already written, and to also write new ones?
Nick: I think so definitely. The main thing was that the four of us were living together, and being like it used to be. We always used to meet up in our flats and listen to music and have drinks and maybe play some music as well, and thats kind of what happened again this time, that was what we were aiming for as well.
Was it equally important that you were producing yourselves as well, because obviously the first time around you took yourselves off to Sweden, with another producers in charge if you like. This time back on home turf, in your own place and producing it yourself. Were those important things for you this time around?
Alex: Working with someone like Rich, it was really good to have a collaborative process. The way the band works in general tends to be a collaborative process, its a bunch of four friends working together. Quite often people ask us Is your band a dictatorship or a democracy? Its neither, if four friends that talk about things and discuss things together, and work stuff out as you would with your friends. The relationship we had with our engineer and producer, with Rich, we wanted it be something similar, we didnt want to go into a room and have someone telling us how we should be playing our songs, we wanted to discuss it and have an exchange of ideas. We were quite lucky to have met someone like Rich who we bumped into in Los Angeles last year. Hes a very easygoing guy, with a lot of good ideas, really open to trying stuff out.
So how would people know Rich Costey, what did you hear him from?
Alex: We knew that hed worked a lot with Rick Rubin on various different things. Hed worked as an engineer with Rick for a long time. Recently hed worked with Bloc Party, Mars Volta, and he did a song with us, This Fire, thats how we first met him. We didnt really know too much of his history when we first recorded with him. I don think it was his history that first influenced us to go with him. We just got on with him, and knew he could do it.
Would you be able to talk about some of the influences that have been fed into this second album, whether its musical influences or experiences youve had, literary influences, anything?
Alex: Like Nick was saying earlier, we do tend to sit around and play each other songs and records, and talk about what weve been listening to, reading, watching, and all those things have some sort of impact on what your playing as you write. It was quite a wide range of stuff, we were listening to Joe Meek for example, really into that early experimental production that he did because theres something appealing about it because its extreme pop music, for that time it was very adventurous, he was using primitive versions of synthesisers and sounds which youd never heard. Again, he recorded in his own house, he had a house on the Holloway road, and he just built things and used them as and how he could.
So Alex has mentioned Joe Meek as one thing you listened to during the making of the album. Nick, was there anything youve been listening to that has inspired you directly or indirectly?
Nick: Well Id never heard Joe Meek before, that was a really big influence on me. We listened to quite a lot of David Bowie as well, hadnt listened to that for a while that was really good.
Any particular period Bowie?
Nick: Yeah, Low. That second side of Low really is shit isnt it! We listened to quite a lot of Bob Dylan too, which was really good.
Paul: Neil Young and Crazy Horse as well.
Nick: The first week we listened to Neil Young non-stop.
Paul: Just Harvest constantly.
Could we characterise that as defining your approach to producing, something a bit more simplistic?
Alex: Its funny that Nick mentioned Bob Dylan, thats probably had more an influence on the song writing style and things. I was listening to Highway 61 Revisited quite a lot. Theres a really marvellous fluency to his lyrics. Theres also as if he completely understands every convention of song writing and then totally disregards it. Its like hes aware of it and totally disregards it at the same time. Conversational fluency in lyrics is something Ive always tried to do and always liked the idea of, and he takes it a wee bit further than that, its fantastic.
You sold three million albums very quickly; you won an Ivor Novello award in the UK, an MTV award in the States, a Brit in the UK, and various other things in France and around the World. How does that impact upon you as a band and as songwriters when it comes to starting all over again?
Alex: I know all those strange and almost hard to believe things happened after the record, but we didnt write any of the songs on the first record to win awards, or to get that kind of acclaim, we just write them because its good fun to write songs with your pals we just kept that approach. Its actually a lot simpler than you think, you just write songs for the same reason you did first time around, and its not that long ago, its like two years ago that we were writing those songs.
So theres no pressure of expectation from all the fans?
Alex: There is pressure, but its not pressure from outside. If you try and meet other peoples expectations, then youre always going to fail, because if you try and meet other peoples expectations then youre probably going to repeat yourself, probably try and reproduce a watered down version of what you produced the first time around. So no, there was pressure from within in other words we wanted to do the best thing we possibly could, and there were times when we were working really, really hard, and there were days when you thought your head was going crazy playing the same thing over and over again, but thats exactly how we were first time around. We do probably put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and we are probably quite obsessive about it sometimes as well, but it works.
How many songs would you say were contenders? How many were in the pool for the new album?
Alex: At one point there were probably 25 or something like that that we were going through. Theres a lot which are still hanging about, even a song like Swallow, Smile, which was dropped from the set about six months after we first started playing, we brought that up again and were considering recording that, maybe thatll pop up again in the future, I dont know.
Do you know how many songs are going to be on the album?
Alex: Were not sure, maybe about 12 or 13, something like that. At the moment were still in between the recording and the mixing, and were going band to New York tomorrow to finish the mixing. Weve got a choice of 15 songs were working on for the mixing and not all of them will be on the album. I dont know which ones will and which ones wont vague idea.
Paul: If were not completely excited by something ourselves well discard it. Thats the acid test for us.
Ill ask each of you individually what your favourite song on the record at this point is, starting with you Bob.
Bob: I think my favourite song on the record when we recorded it and listening to it back, and playing it live is The Fallen. I just like everything about it, its fun to play, I like the lyrics and its a good bass line.
Will that get people dancing, The Fallen?
Bob: I think you can dance to it, I think. Ive tried!
Alex: Im not sure, maybe Walk Away. Its the type of song that weve never really tried to write before. Its slightly more emotional, different tempo, its a different style of song writing really. I feel its a kind of progression from what weve worked on before.
Paul: I wouldnt like to say what my favourite song is because itll probably change by the time this comes out, maybe a toss-up between Do You Want To and Outsiders. Outsiders is really good fun to play, and quite ambitious for us in terms of the mixing. It almost a dance track, but played by human beings with proper instruments, yet its got a real sort of humanity to it, but used all the tricks of dance music. Building and layering it, and then cutting back with the abrupt stops and stuff like that.
Nick: I think my favourite song is You Could Have it So Much Better, its so simple. I think theres one chord change all the way through, isnt it?
Alex: It hangs about on one chord for a little bit extra doesnt it.
Paul: Its so physical though, isnt it? It nearly killed me recording that.
It seems Do You Want To is the first single. Can you maybe tell us about when and how that song was written?
Alex: Do You Want To is probably going to be the first single. We all went out to a party in Glasgow after the last gig we played, last year on the 19th December. It was typical of a certain type of party in Glasgow. It was exciting, there were lots of people about, it was good fun, and the kind of conversations we were having at the party were again typical of that type of party, which was people shouting different things in my ear all night. You know, its not real conversations, just monologues being shouted at you. When I came home that night I wrote down various different things that had been shouted in my ear. Some of them were funny, some of them were entertaining me, and some of them said quite a lot about the characters that were saying them as well. The next day I was playing about on the guitar and I had this little catchy riff, I started singing the things that people had been shouting in my ear, then I took it to the others and it turned into that song.
Another key song on the album, can you talk about The Fallen a little bit, and how that came about.
Alex: Its about various events with friends of mine in Glasgow and different things that happened to us. The song goes in all sorts of different directions and the chorus is going a totally different direction to that. Theres always been this idea lyrically of taking those extraordinary events and characters that we find in ordinary everyday life and charting them. Thats always been an inspiration for songs, and so, with that song its the idea of taking these characters that surround us in our lives and making them the heroes of songs. We were talking about Bob Dylan earlier on and I found it really encouraging when I read Chronicles, he was talking about that folk tradition of writing a ballad about somebody, writing about Billy the Kid, taking a character from life and representing them as a hero in a song, really taking that idea of looking around about you for your heroes. I suppose that comes up a lot in the album. Finding the idea that the heroes are sitting next to you in everyday life.
Hows the Michael of Michael? Hows he coping with the fame of Glasgow?
Nick: He moved!
Alex: He moved to London!
Bob: He just thought it was a fun thing to do; he was in the video and stuff. He likes the post-modern irony.
Paul: Its a good chat-up line, isnt it?
Another standout is Walk Away. Can you tell us a little bit about the genesis of that song?
Alex: The first time we played it was in Japan.
Bob: When I was in Hospital.
Alex: Bob had a sore tummy, and we had to fill in and play some acoustic songs, so we played that in acoustic the first time. That song kind of evolved and it turned into all sorts of different things and ended up being more like it was when it started off. We tried playing it all sorts of different ways; we tried playing it simply as an acoustic song, and then as a rock song, and then maybe more as a traditional rock song I suppose. It ended up as none of those things really.
Paul: We tried approaching it in the same way we approach most things,
and it didnt really work at all.
Turn It On seems to be a very obvious radio friendly song as well, and its about radio partly. Where did that come from?
Alex: That came from a number of different places, didnt it? I think were probably the least precious band in terms of what we write and the ideas that we have. Its not as if its this is our song, and you cant touch it, this is our precious piece of art, its more like oh, Ive got some ideas, what can we take from here or there, and were regularly chop things up with different ideas, and I know that Turn it On was like that, wasnt it? The chorus, thats an R N B type thing. There was a time we had an instrumental song, a really long song. We were trying to do something, like our version of a Dr. Dre type song, with very much that approach to playing, and it was kind of fun to play, but just sounded a bit contrived, and it didnt really sound like us.
Bob: But we took the chorus from it, didnt we.
Nick: And then you had that thing on the keyboard, that Dum de dum.
Alex: Well lyrically its actually talking about lyrics. Im always sticking with the idea that there is no such thing as misinterpretation. Theres just interpretation, you see lyrics however you want. If you write lyrics you cant tell people how to listen to them, its up to them to listen to them how they want.
Nick: I used to play in a band and the drummer would refuse to play concerts because he doesnt want to influence people!
You mentioned Dr. Dre there, and two of the many people who have come out as fans of the band, two of the more unusual fans are Kayne West and Snoop Dog who I think said when he played in Glasgow last year that he wanted to do a collaboration with those Take Me Out guys! Did any of those ideas with Snoop Dogs lyrical delivery style and Kayne Wests innovative production. Did any of those have any influence directly or indirectly on how you produced your own album?
Alex: Definitely, particularly someone like Kayne Wests production. We do find ourselves looking at that sort of music, its funny, like Kane West, we met up with him at some show we did one time, he was talking about Krunk, and its great to listen to something like that, like Lil Jon, and youve got that real power in the music, its a hell of a lot more powerful than any rock band could ever be. Its much more aggressive than any rock band could ever be as well. I think weve all got a problem with the fact that all genres are too defined nowadays. If youre playing R N B you dont listen to rock music and visa versa that just seems ridiculous to us, and I think someone like Kayne West is quite inspiring because he obviously does, he listens to everything, he listens to music that he likes. I think there was a wonderful period in music, about the time of The Temptations, Sly and the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder, and the Rolling Stones in the early seventies. There was a real exchange between what was perceived as R N B and white rock music at the time as well. It was like people didnt give a damn about the genre, they just listened to what they liked. Thats how we feel about music as well, so I love listening to stuff like Kayne West, its great, very inspiring.
One of the things I think that draw people to Franz Ferdinand is the attention to detail that you put into everything, whether its the songs, or the individual moments within songs. The way you look, the way you act on stage. The way you package your records, and obviously having an art school background scattered between you, you put a lot of thought into graphic imagery and presentation, and you see that reflected on the fan sites for the band as well, of which there are many. A lot of the debate is what youre going to call this new record and how its going to look. For a lot of bands that doesnt really matter, but for you its important. So can you tell us a: what the design concept for the new record will be, and b: what the title is?
Alex: One thing we decided when we first got the band together was that often the strongest way you can identify a group, is by the visual side of what you do. What you do in everyday life, the fact that you wear a particular type of clothes, your visually identifying yourselves, your visually telling the rest of the world something about your character, your personality. So we wanted to do something with our music, visually tell people what we are about, visually give them a way they can identify with us, and the strongest way we had of doing that last time was choosing those three colours which identified us wherever we went. That dark-black brown, the cream and the orange. Whenever you saw those colours you instantly knew that we were kicking about. It was sometimes quite fun to walk about Glasgow, or London, or Manchester, and you catch one of our posters out of the corner of your eye, and you instantly knew it was one of ours because you knew there were no other colours like that kicking around. Thats something we wanted to continue with this new record, and because this is a new stage of the band we wanted to have a different set of colours that identified what we were doing at this stage.
When we did our last album, we didnt give it a title. The albums title was replaced by those three colours instead, and everything we did was identified by those three colours, so thats what we wanted to do this time. In a way we a beyond the point of giving the album a title, we probably shouldnt give the album a title because the three colours are going to be what identifies the album more than anything else, so if we can get away with it we like to just leave it without a title, just have the three colours instead.
So its just called Franz Ferdinand again?
Alex: Its not called anything; its just the new record by Franz Ferdinand.
So the three colours, the black, the green and the red, thats going to feed through every stage of the releases?
Alex: Its good because you identify yourselves with every visual thing you do and it something that weve always done as a band, weve made sure weve always put a lot of effort into our videos, our artwork, our stage set design. There was last year, this continuity, this unifying colour scheme, and its going to happen this time around as well. Earlier on in the day we were talking about the fashion world, and hows there parallels with the music world. Its something Ive always felt there is, there are side of the fashion world I find incredibly exciting, and I do like the cyclical nature of the fashion world. They do change and have a completely revolutionary look each season. I think thats really cool, its always a progression. In a way its something that bands used to have, its almost something that that are afraid of doing nowadays. Its as if bands are forced to create some sort of corporate identity that they keep on regurgitating again and again, theres no adventurousness, so we wanted to progress. In the fashion world you find that with each of those stages of progression theres a colour that defines it as well, and I suppose were pinching that idea.
Bob, as the bands actual art graduate design expert, can you tell us about the actual sleeve design. Last time you used Russian propaganda, is that something which you also want to carry through?
Bob: With the sleeve, Alex picked up a bunch of posters, propaganda stuff. Its the sort of era, the constructivist stuff that we doing before.
And have you settled down to a video concept too? Does that follow through?
Alex: No, we havent completely decided on the concept for the video at the moment, were still discussing it. I think we want this one to be more of an action thriller than some of our previous videos. It looks like were gonna be working with Diane Martell, I think she was recommended by a friend of a friend again, like with most people we work with, like with Rich for example or with Cerne our manager, like with most people we work with. Most of our decisions are based on whether we get on with them, we usually have a conversation with them and talk about different ideas that we have and listen to ideas that they have, and thats usually the deciding point rather than looking at work theyve done before. Its usually based on how well we hit it off, simply, and we hit it off well with Diane.
Bob mentioned earlier that you picked up inspiration from your recent show in Russia. You did that midway through the recording process for the album, was that part of giving the songs a road test in part, Nick?
Nick: It seemed a good thing, going between the Scottish countryside and mixing in New York. We thought wed just pop over to Moscow and try them out live, to see if they actually worked.
Theres versions of Evil and a Heathen going around the Internet from those shows which sounds particularly exciting. Did you feel that worked well?
Nick: It's such a strong song, that if you feel good, we all feel good together playing it, then it has a huge strength.
Alex: Its a very raw song that. Even though its quite simple, it has an air of unpredictability about it, we leave quite a lot of it open and you (Paul) lead off into the drum fills. Thats something that happened with the songs from the first album, when we were playing them live, they would evolve and change and different sections would appear and they would be a certain amount of unpredictability about them, and I think when we were working this time around we wanted to leave an air of that, that a song is never totally defined, and that it will change and evolve. Theres something thrilling about when you see a band perform a song, youre not quite sure exactly how its going to go.
While youve been in Germany youve also done a TV show and youre first festival of the summer, the Eins Live festival, you played quite a few new songs there. How has it been taking the songs back out into the big open-air shows, of which you played quite a bit last time?
Alex: I really enjoyed playing Eins Live the other day. Theres something fantastic about playing in front of a huge festival crowd.
Paul: That was the debut of Do You Want To as well.
Alex: Its great when you see people actually dancing along to songs which they couldnt possibly have heard before, weve never played them in front of anybody. It is kind of an acid test as well, that is the point. Before we did Do You Want To that night we were like I wonder if its gonna work? Up to that point you think that to us it sounds like a really good song, but you dont actually know until you play it in front of an audience whether it does work or not.
Over the summer youre doing various European festivals, Finland down through Holland and youre supporting U2 in Spain I believe, and then you finally play your first UK show in Edinburgh, at the end of the Edinburgh festival in August. Again are you looking to spend the summer months getting the new songs up to speed and getting comfortable with them, incorporating them into the set?
Alex: Its not like were suddenly going to switch the set over from the old songs to the new songs. Its quite cool now we're going to have a wider range of songs, the sets going to be different every night.
Paul: It definitely makes it more exciting for us, and the audience.
Obviously Edinburgh Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world, but traditionally musics been sidelined. That seems to have been beefed up now; youre doing two nights at Princes Street Gardens, underneath the Edinburgh castle at the end of August. Is that going to seem like a big semi-homecoming kind of event?
Paul: It is for me because I grew up in Edinburgh, thats huge.
Alex: I spent part of my childhood in Edinburgh, and went to primary school there, and I remember going down there to the same thing and sitting in Princes Street Garden listening to 18 12 Concerto and watching all the fireworks going off, it was very exciting so its pretty cool to go back and play there.
Your first major bout of international touring is going to be in the States, in America in September and October. Obviously you toured America an awful lot last time, and had a lot of success there. I think Entertainment Weekly had you as one of the top 10 things to look forward to this year. Does it feel like youve stepped up a level in America this year?
Alex: The Americans have been very warm and supporting of us, had a great reception over there. To be honest America feels like everywhere else, it feels like were still going on to do something new. Something thats exciting even this time around.
A lot of bands complain about touring America that it kills them and it kills their enthusiasm, that they dont want to ever do it again, but you seem to have got quite a buzz out of doing it. Perhaps that was because you were successful over there, or is it because you understood it was always going to be a big job, trying to reach everyone in America and at least expose them to the music?
Alex: I understand why bands say that sometimes as well. Its not America specifically, if you overdo touring in general it will kill you as a band. You do have to step away from it at times and go back to writing and continuing the progression of the band. We didnt go over to America with any expectations that anyone would be into what we were doing. The first time we went to America we played in a little bar called Pianos, wasnt it? Was that the first gig? In New York and there was forty people there, and we thought that was great, there are forty people that know about us over here. So I suppose if you go over with that attitude rather than expecting to be superstars and then you build it up, it seems to be a much more natural way to do it.
Another big country for you was Japan, people were very excited to see you there and youve got some exciting shows planned for this time. Was it a culture shock going to Japan and being greeted by thousands of fans?
Alex: There are different conventions in terms of concerts and things. It is very exciting, its a very thrilling country to go to, Japan. There are a lot of vibrant things going on all the time, and the audiences are different as well, their approach to being in the audience is different as well. Theyre just as intense as an audience anywhere else, but you do have that period of applause then silence, complete attention. Theyre totally paying attention to you. You play a gig in Glasgow or London or wherever theres usually a bunch of people chatting about what they watched on the box last night, something like that, between songs, whereas in Japan youd never get that, theyre all paying attention.
Paul: I just find that they react to every sort of nuance, every time change, every chord change they vocalise their appreciation.
Alex: Its kind of like at a jazz gig.
Generalisations are fraught with danger, but the French, kind of like with their cinema, they like intellectual cinema. Im not saying its intellectual pop music you make but there is a cleverness, a thought process that goes into it, and I was wondering how French audiences react to that, the fact that you do put effort into lyrics and presentation?
Alex: The approach weve always had to our music is that approachable on the most immediate, basic level, possibly like the most throwaway pop single you can get like you react when you hear I cant get you out of my head by Kylie Minogue or something like that. Think its a great pop song and react to it on that level, but we do put a lot of effort into the other sides of it too. I do think French audiences appreciate that. They are willing to put a little bit more effort to appreciate what a bands doing.
Was there any places last time that you didnt manage top get to, that this time you would like to get to, in terms of touring?
Paul: South America, Brazil, Argentina, Chilli, Eastern Europe as well. Hungary, playing a festival in Budapest this time, which is exciting.
Alex: We almost got to go to Lebanon this time too which would have been fantastic, but we didnt finish the record in time, maybe next time.
Bob: Maybe Singapore or Thailand.
Alex: Again, we were in this difficult situation where we had to make this horrible choice of getting to go to these countries, where we would get messages come though from people saying theyd love to see us play, so we had the choice of going over there and playing, or progressing. We thought it was more important to record a new record.
So when do you fit the UK into these international plans?
Alex: Weve decided to stop sleeping, just to fit in twice as much as before!
Nick: Yeah, were going ahead with that so it should work!
In terms of the venues youre playing, youre at that strange point where you could play some of the indoor stadiums if you wanted to in the UK. Are you going to go that route, or stick to the big auditorium theatres?
Alex: It is difficult; were still discussing it at the moment. We are going to have to play some bigger places theres no two ways about it. When we played in Russia we played two different venues in Moscow. One was to about 400 people and one was to about 10,000 people. Theyre both different, but were deliberately putting some smaller shows because they do have that immediacy and vibrancy thats just different from those big shows.
If we could look back on the last two years, because I think people need to remember that its less than two years since your first festival, you did T in the Park, Thats two years ago, and you were recording your debut album about the same time. So its an awful lot youve achieved. Individually can you try and tell me the high and low points of the last two years?
Bob: The last two years, theyre been so many high points. Some insane gigs where youve been stood on stage and chills gone up your spine. T in the Park in Scotland, and at the Barrowlands. The La Cigale in Paris and San Francisco and lots of places that Ive enjoyed playing. And also getting to go back there more than once and getting to know a town and getting to know an audience. Getting to know the audience in Berlin and then looking forward to playing there again, thats kind of the best thing.
Bob: Im not a fan of hangovers!
Nick: My high points, I think playing Brixton Academy for the first time, and I thought this is huge. It was amazing, and that was great. Another one was when we heard that Take Me Out had got to number 3, none of us were in Glasgow, none of us were together, and I got a phone call from Alex, and it was unbelievable.
Paul: There have been some great shows over the last two years, T in the Park, La Cigale. I enjoyed smaller shows that weve done. We had a semi-secret show in Leeds at the social club, and I dont know many how many people came but they couldnt all get in so Alex and Nick played in the car park. That was a great sweaty and energetic show, its good when everyone enjoys themselves. I enjoyed going to Prague, that was sweaty.
Alex, high and low points?
Alex: A couple of high points spring to mind. One really exhilarating moment was when we played Michael live on Top of the Pops, and it was just the band playing totally live in front of, I dont know how many thousands or millions of people watch that programme, but that was very, very exciting. There was another, which was more of a bizarre point, which was when the Mercury Music Prize thing happened, not winning the prize itself, but the day after. We flew to New York on one of those Jumbo Jets, and we were sitting in the rows amongst everybody else, and you know as you take off youre watching the little screen in front of you watching the news, and they usually have todays news headlines. I was sitting beside Bob and I stood up, and as I stood up everybodys screen was showing the coverage of the Mercury Prize and it was a shot of Bob standing up looking really shocked as we found out we were the winners of the prize. That was a really odd moment looking out across the plane at everybody looking at Bob, and he was sitting beside me with an eye-mask on trying to get some sleep. When we played the Barrowlands in Glasgow on the first night, I drove down in my car. Ive got a soft spot for old bangers, and I was driving this old Merc Id picked up for a couple of hundred quid somewhere. Wed ended up staying too late at the sound check, me and Bob had planned to go back to my flat and get a change of clothes but Id left the car parked right in front of the Barrowlands, and the queue was stretching right round the building. We had to walk round right in front of the queue and everybody knew it was us, and were all waving hello. We got into the car and it just wouldnt start, it was so embarrassing, and then we had to push it up the hill.
Bob: So the fans were pushing it!
Over the course of the last two years youve played with a lot of bands and met a lot of bands in different places around the world. Is there any bands you feel an affinity with in terms of the music they make or the attitude they have?
Alex: Its been great to hang around with a lot of bands and particularly go on tour with a lot of bands. When we were starting off for instance we were supporting a band like Interpol, which was great fun. It was very inspiring to see a band like that who were enjoying a great degree of success who were still keeping their heads about them as well, and werent behaving like egotistical fools, they were pretty grounded about it. Also the band who have played on tour with us, like the Futureheads and the Kills, Sons and Daughters of course!
The Franz Ferdinand website is obviously something you put a lot of time and effort into, and youve put a lot of little films from the recording studio in Scotland on there. Can you tell us a little bit about those films and anything else youve got planned to put on the website?
Alex: I suppose with those films weve put on the website, we were just filming some of the things we were up to when we were recording.
Bob: Its a fun thing to do, make little films mucking around.
Alex: Were going to be putting out a DVD a little later on in the year, and we have asked fans to send in little clips that theyve got as well. We have had a lot of feedback from fans, which has been very positive. Very supportive as well. It underlines something weve always thought as a band as well that a band is defined by their audience as much by themselves, and that any concert you go to or play you can totally sense that if the audience is performing well, the band will perform well. I think weve been very lucky with the people who are into us.
Was it important from the start for the band that you had a contact with audience?
Alex: There always has to be some sort of things that arent up for grabs, and none of us are tempted by the idea of turning your private life over to the status of celebrity, but at the same time not to go in the other direction and become elusive and aloof. Thats the whole point of playing music is to have some connection with people.
You make things available to the fans, youre constantly allowing the downloading of new songs and live versions of songs. Is that important?
Bob: The thing is if someones a fan of a band and they want to have all these live things and bootlegs, theyll get them anyway. If you want them you can have them.
Alex: And again, you just dont want to be a wanker about it. Didnt want to get too precious about it and say this is mine, you cant have it. If you play a song at a concert your putting it out to the public anyway, to then try and control other people from listening to it, thats just silly. And also it ties into what we were saying before, that a lot of the places weve wanted to play, we havent managed to get out there, and so if theres somebody in Argentina who hasnt managed to get to one of our gigs but downloads it from one of their pals in London, then great, so be it.
Then finally, the first time around you famously said you wanted to make a record girls could dance to, it was inclusive that way. It that still the principle or have you tweaked that and changed it on your second album?
Alex: I think the dance elements still very important, and we want to continue making dance music. In a way we experimented with that, we wanted to make music that did the same stuff but worked in a different way, and so we spent a lot of time playing with different rhythms, and also looking to different areas looking for rhythmical inspiration I suppose, so wed sit and listen to Captain Beefheart records as well. I think this ties in with what we were saying about having four human beings playing dance music as opposed to having a sequence form of dance music. We definitely wanted to continue making dance music, music you can dance to. Weve always been inspired by dance music. Theres a real boldness and directness about it which weve always found appealing, but played as four guys as a band, with that kind of slip and energy you have with a live band too, and so we were looking at other areas for inspiration. We found there were other people doing similar things to this away from what wed listened to before, so we were listening to Captain Beefheart, some of the later seventies stuff he was doing had quite an affinity with what we wanted to do. Other areas as well, people like Felix Cuban, taking the ideas of dance music and doing something different with them. Also a band like the Silver Apples as well, theres a real kind of basic rawness about them, which is inspiring too.
So there are enough dance songs and pop songs to keep the fans happy?
Alex: We always wanted to have the directness of pop music, which weve continued to have here. Not all of the songs are dance songs. There are some songs on the record which dont have drums or bass on them. But having said that there are some songs where the drums and the bass are the lead instrument, which is something we never quite did on the first record, and so if anything weve widened our approach and were a little bit more extreme in what were doing, and I think that comes from having been a band a little bit longer you become more comfortable with your own identity, with who you are and how you do it. This gives you the confidence to maybe experiment and take things a little bit further than you did before.
Live pix from The Independent Days Festival, 2004, and V Festival 2005 by Alessia of www.thewhitequeenpictureshow.com
Read our review of 'You Could Have It So Much Better' here