Left to right, Nick McCarthy (guitar), Paul Thomson (drums), Bob Hardy (bass) and Alex Kapranos (vocals). :: SUR
At least Paul Thomson is honest: he admits he doesn’t know which festival he’s coming to Malaga for. But we can forgive him: Franz Ferdinand have a packed schedule this summer with around 20 gigs in different European countries.
He does remember Malaga, however, thanks to the lavish attention paid to them by San Miguel, the sponsors of the concert they played in the city’s congress centre in 2010.
“They gave us one of those big legs of ham every night, so we quite enjoyed that,” recalls the 38-year-old musician, the only member of the Glaswegian band with Scottish blood in his veins.
On 11 July, at the 101 Sun Festival, with or without ham, Franz Ferdinand will play “better”. The band that revolutionalised the indie scene in 2004 feel “energised” and “fresh” after a four-year break, fraught with break-up rumours.
Their new album, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” promises to make the girls dance again, “and some guys as well”, stresses Thomson.
–This is Franz Ferdinand’s second time in Malaga. This time you are headliners in the 101 Sun Festival. Will this concert be different?
– But it’ll be a better show this time, I think. We’re better players. We had just finished touring the last record last time we came to Malaga so we’re a bit fresher now and energised by making a new record.
–What do you remember about that visit?
–San Miguel were paying for everything they gave us one of those big legs of ham very night, so we quite enjoyed that. But you try not to get too used to that kind of treatment.
–‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ is your comeback after four years of silence. Was there a crisis in Franz Ferdinand?
–There was no crisis; we just kind of stopped for a while. We just did other things instead and then we decided that we would start making music again. It was perfectly natural.
·–But why did you stop?
–We just kind of stopped talking to each other; we just all went home and didn’t phone each other for a few months, but it was absolutely fine. It’s like all the best friendships I have with people back home; I don’t see them for years but whenever I catch up with them we just pick up from where we left off, and that was a bit like how it was with the band as well. It was no big deal really.
–With your current good form, is there a new album coming soon?
–Yes, we’re working on a collaboration now with a band called Sparks which we’re all excited about. All the songs are written but once we’ve finished recording that we’ll probably have a couple of months off and then start writing again. So there’ll be another album out quite soon. We’ve lots of stuff knocking around from the last record as well, which we want to try and get out this year, probably as EPs. There will be new material out this year.
–Will you try out this new material at the 101 Sun Festival?
–No, because we haven’t learned to play it yet! But we’ll playing all the new records and end with cuts from the last three as well. But we enjoy doing special things for one-off gigs, doing covers and things like that to keep it entertaining for us really.
– Your concerts are massive, you headline festivals, your records are on the best-selling lists. Some might say you’ve moved into the mainstream. Does Franz Ferdinand still have an indie heart?
–I don’t think we’re mainstream. I don’t know what mainstream is anymore. We just kind of do what we do. We would consider ourselves an independent band, we’re on an indie label and we do everything ourselves; we don’t really consult anybody else and we’re quite happy that way.
For me mainstream is like a band that’s been put together by outside forces or that doesn’t really have any control over their own destiny or career, or no creative control. Sometimes a band that does everything for themselves breaks through into the mainstream but that hasn’t really happened for a while. That is basically the greater public catching up with them as opposed to a band desperately looking to see what’s popular and trying to exploit that to sell. We belong firmly in the independent camp.
In 2003 we were surprised that somebody wanted to give us a record deal and then everything happened really quickly after that. It wasn’t really much of a shock at the time because we didn’t have any time to digest it because our feet didn’t really touch the ground for two years. I guess that’s why we have a break after the third record because we hadn’t really had an opportunity to adapt to what our lives had become.
–Do you still want to be the “band that makes the girls dance”, as you said when you started. Or are you tired of that ‘motto’?
– Yes, we’re tired of it. To put that ‘motto’ in context, it was a kind of glib remark we made when we first started as a small band in Glasgow. On the scene that we came from in Glasgow, the music was very left field and avant garde, very male orientated, so when we first started playing music the first thing we noticed was that our female friends started dancing and that was the last thing you’d expect to see at a show in Glasgow, so we were quite happy with that. But some guys did dance as well!
–Getting the public in Malaga dancing shouldn’t be difficult...
–The Spanish public, and people in Spanish-speaking countries as well, are definitely more demonstrative; it’s better for us as they’re showing us that they’re excited and enjoying themselves because that makes us perform and it makes for a good exchange of energy.
–So communication with the public is important. Does anyone in the band speak Spanish?
–Nick [McCarthy, guitarist] speaks a bit of Spanish; he’s the one who can pick up other languages because he grew up in Germany. I only speak English and it makes me feel like a typical British person, like a total ignoramus when I go to another country because I can’t speak the language, but I make very little effort to learn.
–What concert, apart from yours, would you recommend at the 101 Sun Festival?
–[Paul admits that he doesn’t know who else is playing. He reacts when he hears the name Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.] Before we were in a band together, Alex and I once worked behind the bar at a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club gig. I quite like them.
–Are you familiar with the Spanish indie scene?
– We played with a Spanish group recently when we did the Mallorca Rocks thing- a band called The Last Dandies. We quite liked them. I’m listening to a Spanish language group at the moment called Las Kellies from Buenos Aires and a group from Santiago, Chile, Fredi Michel, and also Holy Drug Couple.
–Will you be seeing much of Malaga or the Costa while you’re here?
–We’ll probably arrive the day before so we’ll get the chance to hang out.
[Paul is suddenly pleased to have founds a connection with Malaga.]
Actually I play in a band in Glasgow called Correcto and the guy that plays bass in the band designed a polo shirt for FC Malaga about three years ago [the designer Bob McCaffrey]. Aren’t FC Malaga called the anchovies or something like that?
–How do you cope on tour now you’re a family man?
–They’re used to me going away all the time and so don’t know anything else really. Obviously I miss them - I miss them more than they miss me to be honest.