Franz Ferdinand on “Always Ascending”

Selfish Art

Jun 22, 2018 Photography by Cara Robbins Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett
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Alex Kapranos begins with a blank slatean honest to goodness real blank slate. No preconceived ideas. No thematic direction. No cares or concerns for where Franz Ferdinand has gone in the past or where they're expected to head in the future. The band, he says, has to be selfish that way.

Nearly 15 years have passed since "Take Me Out" stormed up the charts and placed Franz Ferdinand squarely in the musical mainstream. In the time since, Kapranos says he's learned to silence the critics as well as the praise. The band's interest is the only influence worthy of their collective attention.

"If it turns me on. It's that simple," says Kapranos about knowing which direction to go. The band's fifth album, Always Ascending, is rooted in the band's raw rock sensibilities even with its dance hall setting.

"It's a truly selfish decision, really. On behalf of all of us, it's selfish as a group. As we sat around and sort of talked about, as a band, what kind of record would turn us on, make us feel good, that we would want to play, that we would want to perform, that we would want to listen to ourselves, we said we wanted something that's raw for the dance floor. That's what gets us going. If it gets us going, it's probably going to be somebody else into it as well."

Kapranos divides his songcraft into two distinct yet equally important partswhat he terms "splurge" and "work." The first is the unpredictable half, the frustrating yet exciting component in which songs appear from nowhere. The other half is the tedium, the tweaking of what arrived out of thin air.

"One part is totally getting lost and ending up in a place that you're not planning to get to," he explains. "I think if you set down a destination when you're writing, you often end up in, well, that destination. It's not much of a surprise. The second part is the discipline. It is the more rigorous methodology of going through the splurge, the flood, and channeling it. That's when you bring order. That's when you use it to create something and give it conciseness.

"It's funny, because in the splurge, you create 95% of what you're creating," he continues. "Ninety-five percent of the creativity happens in that instant, unfettered moment. But in regards to the actual work, 95% of the work is the hard bit at the end that focuses it, makes it and gives form. It allows you to create something that you want the rest of the world to actually listen to."

Franz Ferdinand have changed personnel since their last album as multi-instrumentalist Nick McCarthy stepped away for family reasons in 2016. Julian Corrie and Dino Bardot are the new additions, but Kapranos says the creative process hasn't changed in the slightest. Serving the song is the foremost responsibility for the band, no matter what happens internally or externally for the bandand Kapranos says this album has plenty of examples.

"There's a song on the record called 'Lois Lane,' which was one of the earliest songs that I wrote, but it was not electronic at all. I originally wrote it with an acoustic guitar, and there's no guitar at all on the finished version of it. It was also written in this very free way. When I was writing that, I had no idea it was going to end up necessarily as an electronic piece of music or more of a dance floor piece of music. It was just a song. I think that when you start to write, that's what you need to do: just write songs and let the other stuff come later."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Spring 2018 Issue (March/April/May 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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Roll the ball
July 1st 2018
8:51pm

that’s so interesting! I love them

engdoor
July 15th 2018
10:56pm

güzel yazı

Warsaw Realtor
July 31st 2018
7:22pm

I was in my car driving to work the first time I heard “take me out” on the radio. I remember thinking to myself as it began playing, “I really like the pronounced guitar on this track.” Then a quarter of the way through the song something crazy happened. The song transformed right before my ears into a completely new song. New tempo and all. I thought to myself, “What the hell is going on? Is this the same song.”

I’d never heard anything quite like it before and I LOVED it. I went out the very next day and bought the cd (yes, I’m old). It’s good to read they’re still around and kicking, even if they have “changed personnel.” Thanks for the interesting read.

Sheweta Sinha
September 29th 2018
4:27am

I enjoy to read awesome content from this site. I bookmarked this site. Thank you so much for this amazing content.

happy wheels
November 6th 2018
12:58am

The art of selfishness you share very well, I am very impressed with this art.