Originally on Gigwise
We did a David Bowie cover for Radio 1 with Girls Aloud and Brian Higgins and it went really well so we went down to his studio to do some work with Xenomania. It never really got going with them though to be honest, in the end we didn’t record anything with them.” Bob Hardy is talking about the recording process of his band Franz Ferdinand’s new album titled ‘Tonight: Franz Ferdinand’ and it’s much talked about waiting time and various false starts. Chief amongst the publicised experiments was the work with Xenomania, better known as the brains behind the acts such as Girls Aloud and Gabriella Cilmi. “The way Xenomania work is that there is a group of them and one of them will do the melodies and one will do the lyrics and then someone on beats and keyboards so it’s very similar to how we work. In a way they’re a band on their own and we didn’t need their expertise as we have our own.”
That is under no doubt as the band have emerged from a three and a half year break with a new album and a fantastic return to form. Following the breakthrough hit of the bands self titled debut album in 2004 Franz Ferdinand came back immediately in 2006 with ‘You Could Have It So Much Better’ and the rush showed in the albums quality. The band have gone on record as saying that the second album is not their finest work and that they would be taking their time with album number three. “We finished touring the second album in September 2006 and decided to have a break from each other because by that point we’d been together in one way or another since 2003, so we had been in this bubble for three years and needed a few months off. Then in about February 2007 we got back together and started writing and recording. We finished up in September 2008, a year and a half later, which is about the same gestation period of the first album.”
Following the time spent with Xenomania Franz Ferdinand hooked up with Dan Carey (Hot Chip, CSS) and began the ‘Tonight:’ sessions. “Dan left us on our own a lot and he fitted into the band dynamic really well. The songs were already written by the time we started with him, he was much more focused on the sonics of the album than shaping and moulding it.”
‘Tonight:’ sees Franz Ferdinand moving into a much more dance and electronic inspired environment, the band have always made music to dance to but never before has it been so ostensibly geared towards dance music in inverted commas. Bob says, “The second record was a rock record really, very loud and fast and we didn’t want that again. So things slowed down and became more syncopated and dancier . it was the direction we wanted to move in and I feel proud of the album that we have made.” Is there a song you are particularly keen on? “I really enjoy ‘Lucid Dreams’ that’s sort of an epic eight minute long track with an electronic decoda running through it. “
‘Lucid Dreams’ for those who are yet to hear it is a fantastic piece of music and undisputedly the most attention grabbing song on the new album. It was originally released on the Fifa 2008 video game as a three minute pop song but was warped and mutated in the recording studio into a DFA aping techno monster. For those sue to see Franz Ferdinand touring in March it’s sure to be a set highlight, “We’ve played it live in it’s original three minute form at Latitude last year. It’s something we’re working on at the moment, trying to work out a way to realise the potential of that song on stage.” Has the band had much chance to get on the road and test out the new songs? “We did a tour of the Australia, the States and Canada before Christmas and played some dates in Europe over New Year. We’ve been playing about six or seven of the new songs next to the older material. The crowd seem to like them and they are fitting into the set well so that’s good. There are videos on Youtube and people have been leaving really nice comments on there. So it’s been good so far.” Franz Ferdinand are set to embark on a headline tour of the UK in March but what are their plans for the rest of the year? It’s pretty much touring full on for the rest of the year.” And festivals? “Well I think Bennicassim has been confirmed and there will be more in Europe and the UK hopefully.” And the rumour that you are headlining Glastonbury’s Other Stage? “Well they are just rumours, nothing is confirmed.”
Early reviews of ‘Tonight’ have been a mixed bag with praise heavy 8/10’s mixing with indifferent and bored 3’s and 6’s, how do these reviews affect the band members? “I don’t really read the reviews to be honest. I see some of them and people tell me the marks from other places but I don’t seek them out. It doesn’t matter really, we’ve made the album we want and one that we are proud of and that’s all that matters. We’re confident in the record so that’s all that matters.”Perhaps some of the less favourable feedback has been in backlash to the supposed ‘death of indie’ that every bore with a keyboard has been talking about in January, “Yeah well it does look like things are coming to an end, or the end of a cycle should I say. These things move and change all the time and it wasn’t that long ago that nobody was listening to indie bands at all. I don’t think we’ve ever fitted into a genre or a group particularly but it will be interesting to see how things turn out this year. I like bands like The National and Of Montreal, they keep me sane when we’re on tour and they’re bands who aren’t affected by trends or fashion. Despite disappointing sales for big third albums last year (Razorlight, Kaiser Chiefs) and this supposed drop off in guitar bands popularity Franz Ferdinand have made a bold and proud album which should see them take more than a few people out this year.