Franz Ferdinand were undoubtedly the success story of 2004. TheGlasgow quartet have shifted well over a million copies of their debut albumworldwide since its release in February of that year – a record that earned themthe illustrious Mercury music prize.
That’s not to mention a string of sold out tours in Britain and the States and a series of triumphant festivalperformances – at Glastonbury and T in The Park to name but a few.
In September, Franz Ferdinand picked up the coveted Mercury award ahead ofother bands like The Streets, Keane, The Zutons andSnow Patrol. Perhaps this wasn’t the greatest surprise, considering thehuge commercial and critical success the band were enjoying at the time. Butthey insist otherwise:
- Franz Ferdinand on the follow-up to their all conquering eponymous debut…
“We were pretty shocked on the night,” says Paul. “We were ready to leave ourseats and then it was us who had to get up!” Nick adds. I didn’t really care,but when we actually won it was quite a good feeling, and we got to meetBrain Eno as well – that was pretty good,” he continues.
This sort of understated response is prominent throughout the rest of theconversation. It seems that the massive success and fame that has greeted themis secondary to their main goal of making great music for girls to dance to.Indeed, they’re equally modest about the big impact they’ve made inAmerica.
“We like playing wherever we play – I think it’s the same in America. We justwent over and played and just had fun and people liked it. I guess we’ve gotsome songs that people like as well. It’s as easy as that I think!” Nickexclaims, trying to sum up their success over there.
“It’s not like we went over and demanded people pay attention to us, we justgot on with what we do,” Paul continues. ‘What they do’ has earned them half amillion album sales in the US to date, three well received tours and anomination for the Shortlist prize (The American equivalent of the Mercury).Not bad for a bunch of guys with a few songs that people like.
One of these songs of which they speak was the massive hit Take MeOut, which almost single handedly propelled them to stardom. It was one ofthose songs that was literally everywhere last year, and became theband’s signature tune. It also won them countless awards at ceremonies aroundthe globe – it seemed there was rarely a week where the band weren’t picking upawards like ‘Best Breakthrough Video’ or ‘Best Rock Group’ – Do these prizeshold any value to them?
“No, not really” laughs Nick. “It’s some sort of recognition Iguess, but it’s not why we started playing music,” Paul adds. “It’s actuallyquite exciting to go up and stand in front of all the people and say somethingbut otherwise, who cares?” Nick continues.
- Franz Ferdinand on awards…
It must be said that all this success has certainly not come cheaply – Theband toured constantly for about a year a half in order to establishthemselves. 2004 saw trips to the States, France, Australia, and Italy amongstmany others. However, rather than becoming disillusioned about playing the sameset of songs day in day out, they assure me they loved every minute of it:
“It is good because it’s always different, every concert you play – that’swhat makes it really great. Otherwise you’d be sick and tired of it after aweek. But because it’s a different audience, a different place, it’s exciting,it’s really cool. You just have to play for the audience, and they’ll exciteyou!” Nick informs. And if you’ve ever seen them live, you’ll know that theyare real performers who do put on one hell of a show.
Their second album is due out some time this year. “It’s going really well,we’re doing it in the Scottish countryside somewhere,” Nick reveals.
“We’d like to have in out in August – that’s the earliest it’ll probably comeout. If we had our way, it would come out earlier, as soon as it was finished.But the record company promote it and it’s their money,” Paul explains, with anair of resentment towards their contractual obligations.
As for a possible title, they’re less forthcoming. “Franz Ferdinand’s secondalbum, whatever you like!” Paul jokes. And how’s the whole thing sounding?”Quite folky at the moment,” reveals Nick. “Pastoral” Paul adds, galvanisinglaughter between the two.
After pushing them a bit more, I manage to get a more insightful response:”The scope’s a bit broader I guess” says Paul after some thought. They’reclearly playing their cards close to their chest, which is perhapsunderstandable considering they’re talking about one of the most eagerlyanticipated records of the year.
This means it’s unlikely that we’ll see Franz live for a while – their nextscheduled appearance is at the V Festival in August this year, which will seethem co-headline the main stage along with the New York’s campest theScissor Sisters. It’s their first ever headline slot at a majorfestival, which comes after just one album.
“It’s a bit cheeky isn’t it,” Nick chuckles. “I’ve never been to Chelmsfordbefore, so I’m looking forward to it!” says Paul. It’s this sort of attitudethat make the band so likeable. They’re clearly riding the crest of their newfound fame, but keeping their feet on the ground and not taking it tooseriously at the same time. As long as they’re putting on good shows, havingfun and putting a smile on the face of fans, the rest is an irrelevance.
“A new record, fly round the world a few times and home again in time fortea!” says Nick, summing up their plans for the next twelve months or so. If youhaven’t been lucky enough to catch them live so far, beg, borrow or steal aticket. Just make sure you join the party before that kettle goes on.
Franz Ferdinand @ Hammersmith Apollo, London
Franz Ferdinand – Tonight
Franz Ferdinand @ Heaven, London