Coming up for Eire

As the masses prepare to descend on Punchestown, we dispatch Hannah Hamilton to assess the festival fitness of one of this year's Oxegen buzz bands, Franz Ferdinand.

"I always wanted a cockatoo,” says Franz Ferdinand drummer Paul Thomson. He’s responding to my warning that our phone conversation may be permeated by the high pitched squawk of my housemate’s pet, Percy, who tends to become particularly vocal just when you don’t want him to.

“But if did get one, I think my cats would turn it into mincemeat. They’d probably enjoy it, but then I wouldn’t get to enjoy the cockatoo. I’d just have to dispose of the body. There are enough bird carcasses in the kitchen already most mornings – not exactly what you want to see when you sit down to breakfast!”

Paul has just spent a rare night in his own bed, and is in fine form despite being unapologetically dragged out of it by Hot Press. We had been due to intellectually probe his bandmate Alex Kapranos this morning, but a bout of tonsillitis hindered proceedings, forcing Paul to step into the hot seat so Alex can save what’s left of his ailing voice for the band’s appearance at Madrid’s Metrorock festival tomorrow.

Franz are well into festival mode at this stage, having played a string of dates across Europe and in the US, including Coachella and Rock AM, and should be well limbered up by the time they hit Irish shores for Oxegen. So do they have any tales of debauchery from the tour bus so far?

“Not really,” ponders Paul, surprising himself somewhat. “There’s nothing to report back! It all seems so ordinary for us now. What’s actually amazing is when you get back home and you have to lead a normal life. It’s a total novelty. Even doing stuff like gardening, which I’ve never done in my life, is really exciting.”

So much for a rock ‘n roll lifestyle, then. Still, Hot Press finds it very hard to believe that tending one's herbaceous border can be more enjoyable than getting invited to go bowling with Jack White.

”Ah yes!” he remembers. “That was a great laugh. We did the Big Day Out in Australia – it’s a great festival with a fantastic line-up and you all get to travel with the bands across Australia and New Zealand. It’s more like a touring circus. The White Stripes and The Stooges all played. One night when we were in Melbourne, Jack invited us and a few other folks out bowling. He’s quite into it, so much so that he’s even got his own bowling ball. We had a lane and The Mars Volta had a lane beside us. The Greenhornes were there as well, and they played a small set. It was like The Raconteurs but without Brendan Benson – Jack was jamming along with the rhythm section of the Greenhornes and he had this almost telepathic communication going with them. I didn’t realise that they were actually in a band until afterwards!”

One of the Franz’s biggest festival appearances this year will be at the Carling Weekender alongside labelmates the Arctic Monkeys.

“They’re a great band,” he enthuses. “Their music and the observations in their lyrics really belie their age. I like the way they do things too. Because they’re on Domino, it’s the same people that work for them as work for us. They don’t communicate to the label in the same way we do, it’s like they’re kids in this little gang. They were supposed to turn up for this day of promo in Paris and they were like, ‘Fuck that, it sounds rubbish’, so they ran away, leaving all the promo people completely distraught! They’re doing it on their own terms. Sometimes I’m a bit jealous. We do everything on our own terms as well, but we’re also very polite. As for Andy Nicholson quitting, I guess it just wasn’t for him. If I can relate it to my experience, especially with the first record, it’s difficult to know when to say 'no'. It’s good to have the confidence to do that because otherwise you just work yourself into the ground. Everyone’s exhausted and you end up having a blow up, like our big fight in Paris. You’re travelling with these four people and you lose the last of your privacy. It can be very stressful. So whatever he feels like doing, good on him.”

While the Arctic Monkeys are already showing signs of cracking under the strain, Franz Ferdinand continue to go from strength to strength. On their recent American tour with Death Cab For Cutie and The Cribs, they even found time to squeeze in several brief studio sojourns (in some curious locations, I might add) to lay down ideas for their impending album.

“We had a couple of days in the studio in Sao Paolo and worked with some local musicians there. We wanted a brass feel for a song, so they came in and played a horn part. We did a bit of recording in Benton Harbour in Michigan. The town is run by the House Of David (a religious sect) and the whole place was like a shell – there was nothing there. It’s the most desolate place I’ve ever seen. Obviously rents are very cheap, so a friend of ours who used to work with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago managed to build a studio there for next to nothing. Because there’s nothing there, there are no distractions. There’s a dilapidated fairground but that’s it. We re-recorded ‘Eleanor’ for the next single there and did a bit of new stuff. It’s good to do bits and pieces while you’re travelling because then you can sit on it for a while and come back to it and go, ‘Oh no, that’s awful’ or whatever.”

The band are determined not to risk repeating the trick they pulled with You Could Have It So Much Better, aiming instead to recreate a similar atmosphere to their debut album.

“With the last record, we didn’t feel like we had the right to stop and rest before we recorded,” Paul says. “We were riding this wave and it wasn’t something we wanted to stop, so we didn’t have a break. There were just a few weeks between finishing touring and heading back up to the studio in Scotland. We had to amass everything we’d been working on in rehearsals and soundchecks while doing the first record, and writing new stuff on the spot as well. It was a little rushed, but we wanted to get it out as soon as we could. With this album, we want to implement an embargo on music making for three months so we can see where we are, then start kicking about with a group of friends again and make a record in a similar way to the first one. Spend a bit more time on it this time. I think ultimately we want to make more of a pop record. The first record is sharper sounding pop, and the immediacy of pop music is what we love. All of us want it to be more of a reflection of all the music we listen to, which covers so much ground. I really like our second album, but I imagine that after we’ve recorded eight, it’ll pale slightly.”

Twenty-four hours later, and a “big purple golf ball”-tonsilled but remarkably healthy-sounding Alex Kapranos is on the phone to Hot Press from backstage at Metrorock.

“That’s enough about my internal organs!” he laughs, after recounting his illness and apologising profusely for neglecting yesterday’s call, before launching into an in-depth explanation of the direction the new album’s taking.

“We're going back to a much more essential and dance-orientated sort of thing,” he says, backing up Paul’s claims. “I don’t mean electronic, but definitely going back to the beat and the bassline as being the core of what we’re doing. More dance-able, maybe. With the last record, because we’d been touring so much and we’d got to a certain stage as a live band, we were playing these big gigs as a rock band. We felt we wanted to do an album that was like how we played live, so it ended up being quite rock ‘n roll. I think the next one’s going to be more pop, but pop in the way we see it – a weird version of pop! We came up with an idea recently. We were asked to do some music for a film that was going to be set 30 years in the future. I loved the idea of playing music as it would be then, and it got me thinking about bands and how they sound years after they start out – it’s usually kind of similar to how they sounded when they started out anyway, although often not quite as good! So I thought, instead of making music as it would sound in 30 years, make it how it could sound in 30 years. You’re getting into this utopian ideal of what music should sound like in the future, so that’s what we’d like to do for the next record – taking sounds that already exist and making something that you would hope won’t be heard for the next three decades.”

Work on the new album is scheduled to commence next year in the band’s hometown of Glasgow. In the meantime, there’s the remainder of festival season to contend with.

“When we’re touring, festivals are something I really look forward to,” Alex says, “because when you’re on the road you don’t get to see anybody else play. Festivals are a good chance to check out other bands. It was a strange transition to go through when we started touring, having been in a position where I went to gigs all the time to playing gigs all the time and not being able to go to as many as I used to! So I always look forward to the festivals. We played Coachella recently and I got to see Gnarls Barkley's set, which was really good, but Madonna was phenomenal. She still holds an electric guitar in a way that guys in bands think girls hold an electric guitar, if you know what I mean – like she cannae play it. She’s got such charisma though and I love those songs. She was a real highlight.”

As for their Irish appearance this summer, Alex insists that he’s really looking forward to playing Oxegen: “I remember when we played it two years ago, it was the filthiest most miserable day a festival could ever be held on. There was water collecting in the awnings above the stage and flying off in the wind and absolutely drenching the audience. I remember standing on the side of the stage saying, ‘God, these guys must be miserable, it’s going to be such a bad gig’. But then we walked on and the audience was amazing. They were so full of life and energy that it made for a fantastic gig, so I thought if they can be like that in the worst possible weather then it’s gonna be a good gig whatever happens. Unless they all faint with sunstroke!”

Speaking of sunstroke, blistering heat was something the band had to contend with on their recent tour of South America, where they played a series of headlinine shows to some of the most rapturous crowds they’ve ever experienced.

“South America was one of the best experiences of our lives touring,” enthuses Alex. “The very fact that you get to go to South America is incredibly fortunate.It’s such a wonderful part of the world, it’s not only beautiful but it’s teeming with excitement and life. I love audiences that give back a lot of energy when you’re playing. It makes you perform better. The gigs, particularly the one in Rio, felt almost on the verge of anarchy, like it could explode and anything could go wrong. The music was stirring the crowd to a level of uncontrollable energy and you had no idea what was going to happen next. Once you hit the first chord, the whole place erupted.”

If they thought that was incredible, then the 60,000 capacity stadiums they played with Bono and the boys defied comprehension.

“We’d already played with U2 earlier in the year in Spain and I remember the first time we went on that stage in front of all of those people – you do get a sensation of being incredibly small. You can’t see the people at the back of the stadium; they’re just a vague blur of dots. But you know they’re out there and they’re looking. But again, you hit the first chord and then something surges through you – it’s a mixture of adrenalin and excitement and energy that comes back at you from the crowd. We were lucky when we did the South American dates because I think most of the people going down to see U2 had never heard of this little band called Franz Ferdinand from Scotland, but they were loving it and dancing and clapping along. It was a great experience. The fellas from U2 were great as well. Often when bands go on tour they can be treated arrogantly by a big band that they’re supporting. You don’t get that at all with the fellas in U2. They come back and chat with you like you’re anybody. There’s no snobbery. And there’s a really good atmosphere backstage, they couldn’t have been more hospitable.”

One of the more ghastly aspects of travelling through South America was the grub. A keen foodie (not that you’d know it from his skinny frame), one of Alex’s biggest treats when on tour is sampling the local gastronomic delights. However, doing just that in Argentina, he got a mouthful of something particularly unpleasant.

“I ate bulls’ testicles,” he spits, audibly recoiling at the memory. “They were probably the most disgusting things I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. No, definitely the most disgusting. I only managed a quarter of one. It tasted absolutely foul. It tasted like ‘chewing on a bag of green pennies’ – you know when you leave a penny out and it goes all green? I say that because an ex-girlfriend of mine used to describe the nasty aftertaste of oral sex in that way and as I was chewing on this thing I thought, ‘My God! That’s exactly the taste she described!’ Now I know what she went through. I think that all men who are interested in receiving oral sex from their partners should have a bite of a bull’s bollocks so they can have a taste of what they’re inflicting on others! Disgusting.”

The end of the festival season will see the band putting away their passports and taking a proper break for the first time since their debut album broke. For drummer Paul, the three month hiatus will be spent changing nappies, mixing SMA and losing sleep when he becomes a father for the first time. Alex meanwhile will be making further forays into the literary world via his food column in The Guardian (‘Sound Bites’, in which you can find more info on the Argentine bulls’ testicles) which is to be collated, bound and published, hitting the shelves around the end of October.

“I’m just finishing it off at the moment,” he says. “I’ve been writing some new stuff for it and editing the old stuff between rehearsals. It’s been quite hectic! I’m just sending the last pages off today in fact. Andy Knowles who plays with us on tour is doing the illustrations, they look really good. It’s so wonderful and so exciting! The way I feel about it is the same as I felt when I first heard that we were going to have a record coming out a few years ago – desperately excited, but best not to think about it too hard because it will hurt your brain! It’s something so exceptional and out of the ordinary, beyond anything I’ve ever hoped for or expected. I’m just trying not to think about it too much in case it goes wrong!”


Related Articles

WATCH: Franz Ferdinand unveil new video

A black and white affair for 'Fresh Strawberries' today.

Read More

WATCH: New Franz Ferdinand video

Franz Ferdinand prove to be cunning linguists with new German language track ‘Erdbeer Mund’, which comes with a fabulously psychedelic video.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand announce the Olympia + take pop at Pharrell

Following on from their rabble rousing Electric Picnic appearance last year, Franz Ferdinand have confirmed a headlining March 23 show in the Dublin Olympia. Tickets are €28.40.

Read More

WATCH: New Franz Ferdinand video

They've gone all Grindhouse...

Read More

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions

Stirring Comeback From Indie Heroes...

Read More

Free Music Friday

Starring Franz Ferdinand, Bob Dylan, Volcano Choir, Halves and a great deal more...

Read More

WATCH: Franz Ferdinand album 'making of' film

Franz Ferdinand whet appetites for their new album with Come Home, Practically All, Is Nearly Forgiven, a 15-minute ‘Making Of’ short, which is worth watching for the glimpse of Alex Kapranos’ hairy legs alone.

Read More

LISTEN: New Franz Ferdinand album

Yep, all of it.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand gear up for Electric Picnic

Alex Kapranos has been talking to Hot Press ahead of Franz Ferdinand’s visit to Electric Picnic where he’s hoping to catch Giorgio Moroder.

Read More

WATCH: Full Franz Ferdinand set on Letterman

Just over three-quarters of an hour of art-pop goodness.

Read More

New Franz Ferdinand vid

Check out ‘Right Action’ here...

Read More

LISTEN: New Franz Ferdinand

The Scottish art-rockers have debuted two new tunes.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand announce new album

The Electric Picnic headliners have announced the release of their fourth studio album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action,.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand, Live At Dolan's Warehouse

Job well and truly done.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand announce Irish dates

A trio of shows on the horizon...

Read More

Franz Ferdinand covers EP to get full release

Check out LCD Soundsystem version of 'Live Alone'.

Read More


Franz Ferdinand attempt to put some dub in the music and end up with (re)mixed results

Read More

Franz Ferdinand live at the Mandela Hall, Belfast

Read More

Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

Four middle-aged men discover a dance element to their music... and it’s good!

Read More

Franz Ferdinand add Belfast date

Already set to play two Irish dates in the coming months, the Scottish rockers have now added a Belfast date to their upcoming tour.

Read More

UPDATE: Franz Ferdinand confirm Irish tour dates

Franz Ferdinand have just announced a full UK and Irish tour for 2009, including a date in Limerick in February and Dublin in March.

Read More

Can you hear the drums Fernand-o?

With that long awaited third album in the pipeline, and an imminent Electric Picnic slot, Franz Ferdinad's Alex Kapranos talks to us about utilizing the doppler effect.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand member to play Dublin DJ set

Which member of Franz Ferdinand is taking a break from band duties to play a DJ set in Dublin?

Read More

Franz Ferdinand throw pint over Colin Murray at secret show

In what turned out to be a pretty well-kept secret, Temple Bar’s Meeting House Square was the venue on Thursday August 31 for Franz Ferdinand’s free Channel 4 Vodafone TBA gig.

Read More

World Cup predictions: Paul Thomson, Franz Ferdinand

In which prominent musicians fondle their crystal balls and deliver their World Cup predictions.

Read More

Walk Away

Sorry not to get swept up in it all, but is the second Franz album really that good? To be honest, I’m not convinced and ‘Walk Away’ is not the kind of song to change my mind. It is a fairly dull mid-pacer that sounds positively pedestrian next to Maximo Park, Bloc Party et al.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand live at The Point

With strikingly disciplined ferocity, better melodies than the Manics, near-Teutonic efficiency and positively ballistic energy levels, it was hardly a massive shock that Franz blew the Point to shards

Read More

Franz Ferdinand release DVD.

Franz Ferdinand gear up for release of their tour DVD.

Read More

Life in the Belfast lane

**View the corresponding photo gallery here**

A flyover near the old Harland & Wolff shipyard was the starting point for a remarkable three months that has seen Franz Ferdinand challenging U2 and Coldplay for the title of ‘Biggest Band In The World'. Daredevil photographic exploits completed, Hot Press jumped on their tour bus and got the lowdown on Snoop, Bono, Kanye West, Natasha Bedingfield and nights of debauchery with the Scissor Sisters.

Read More

Exclusive Franz photo gallery online!

There’s always added value with, and while this issue's cover story of Scotland’s biggest stars has plenty of visual treats, we’ve packed even more into our EXCLUSIVE Franz photo gallery.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand to release DVD

With their newly-released second album flying off the shelves this week, Franz Ferdinand fever will reach another peak on November 14, when their DVD becomes available.

Read More

You Could Have It So Much Better... With Franz Ferdinand

You Could Have It So Much Better is no radical body swerve, just the gratifying sound of a band gaining in confidence and prowess.

Read More

Do You Want To

Tackling the compelling subject matter of, er, oral pleasure, Franz are back with a vengeance and a single of the same standard as ‘Take Me Out’, but crucially, without the self-consciousness. Instead, they’re having bags of fun and it can’t help but rub off. Though there’s little more than an insanely bouncy and kitsch melody, the simplistic take guarantees it a place on the indie dancefloor for years to come. We’re so lucky.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand live at the Botanic Gardens

Give praise then for those Franz Ferdinand boys. Because it is their presence, and theirs alone, that makes this particular shindig worth attending.

Read More

Our Franz electric

As 40,000 very satisfied punters will know, Franz Ferdinand were gigging in Belfast and Dublin this week - and Hot Press was with them every step of the way.

Read More

Exclusive - Franz: Back in Ireland!

After winning over the crowd at Belfast's Botanic Gardens yesterday (23 August) and aiming to do the same at Lansdowne Road tonight, Scottish indie-popsters Franz Ferdinand have already made plans to return to the Emerald Isle.

Read More

Franz U-turn on album name

Having insisted that their new album would be colour coded rather than named, Franz Ferdinand have done a U-turn.

Read More

Franz artwork revealed

Here's a sneaky peek at the new Franz Ferdinand album artwork - the first Irish viewing no less. And what's it all about, you ask?

Read More

Calling all Franz fans!

Franz Ferdinand are asking their army of Irish admirers to help them assemble their first DVD.

Read More

Franz, Scissor Sisters + Maroon 5 for Belfast

The Lansdowne Road line-up will also appear at Belfast’s Botanic Gardens

Read More

Lansdowne Road + Marlay Park gigs confirmed

The Pixies, Franz Ferdinand, Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx have been announced today for the BudRising Summer Music Shows

Read More

John Walshe: League of Franz

2004 was a bad year in politics. Maybe that’s why the music just got better.

Read More

Critics Choice for 2004- Best Singles & Albums

Top 30 albums & singles of 2004, as voted by our HP writers...

Read More

Feeding the Franz Frenzy

Hotpress' exploitation of vulnerable musicians has reached new levels with us quite literally taking the shirt off Franz Ferdinand's back.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand live at the Olympia, Dublin

If their rapid ascent has left Alex Kapranos & Co. gasping for air it doesn’t show as Franz Ferdinand launch into their Olympia set with a breakneck ‘Michael’. All that having to grab American audiences by the scruff of the neck has toughened them up to the point where on occasions they’re bizarrely redolent of Live & Dangerous-era Thin Lizzy.

Read More


A kitschy-camp delight.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand are go

“Desperate to get back in the studio,” this year’s hottest band Franz Ferdinand are not about to rest on their laurels.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand for Dublin & Belfast in October

Franz Ferdinand have been confirmed for a series of dates in Ireland this coming October!

Read More

Franz Ferdinand @ Oxegen [video interview]

Read More

Born to be Wilde

A year ago they were being paid fifty quid a gig, now they’re one of the biggest rock ‘n’ roll bands on the planet and about to take the Oxegen main stage by storm. A pun loving Stuart Clark discovers how Franz Ferdinand have become Top of the Fops.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand + The Fiery Furnaces

Read More

Franz Ferdinand hit Irish soil!

As Franz fever spreads across town, the paparazzi found the band enjoying the Dublin sunshine earlier today

Read More

Franz Ferdinand

Eamon Sweeney rates the much hyped Franz Ferdinand debut.

Read More

Franz in high places

Never mind CD:UK, Top Of The Pops and Later With Jools – you really know you’ve made it when the phone rings and it’s Sparks telling you they love you. Stuart Clark hears about the irresistible rise of Glasgow hotshots Franz Ferdinand.

Read More

Franz Ferdinand to headline The Ambassador Theatre

April sees the anticipated return of Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand

Read More

Advertise With Us

For information including benefits, key facts, figures and rates for advertising with Hot Press, click below


Find us elsewhere