Usually we don’t like to make grand and sweeping statements about music festivals (since we go to quite a few), but this year’s Austin City Limits Festival lineup is one of the best that we’ve seen in a long time. From the headliners to the first timers, many of this year’s ACL artists have graced FILTER’s pages (and web pages), as well as cover—including our latest: FILTER 53. We’re proud to team up with ACL this year to give you a closer look at some of this weekend’s performers not to miss, through the FILTER lens.
This Time, Same As Before: Getting Back To Basics With Franz Ferdinand
When the members of Franz Ferdinand decided to come back and record their fourth full-length album, the last thing they wanted was an all-out war on their hands. After almost a decade together, the Glasgow dance-rock quartet knew they needed to take a minute (or a year or two) to step back and remember why they wanted to be a band in the first place. So how do you ensure a peaceful reunion while creativity is low and tensions are high? Well, head to the Orkney Islands of course.
“To get things started again, Bob [Hardy] and I agreed to meet on neutral territory…which was Orkney,” says frontman Alex Kapranos in the back of a tour bus five miles off the beaten path of CA Route 62. “Neither of us had ever been to Orkney before so there was no rumble.”
The absence of home turf (and Jerome Robbins fight-choreography) brought the four lads–Nick McCarthy, Paul Thomson, Hardy and Kapranos–back together musically, but more importantly as friends. Hardy can’t help but smile while reminiscing about the moment that the group decided to get off of the industry treadmill for a spell. “It didn’t feel like we were all waiting for an album to be made. It was like when you just started getting together with a band and no one else cared!”
For Franz Ferdinand’s first new LP since 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the group wanted to get back to basics. “We wanted to kind of get a classic songbook together for this record,” explains Kapranos with a new sense of enthusiasm in his voice. “Like ‘The Kinks Songbook’ or ‘The Smiths Songbook.’ You know, those kinds of song books that all kids get when they are learning how to play guitar? Just a collection of really solid songs.”
After two back-to-back album cycles full of recording-press-touring-repeat, the Scots knew they wanted to approach their new album in the same way as they did their self-titled debut. “We demoed a bunch of songs for ourselves over a year ago, but all the songs were finished before we started recording,” Hardy elaborates before the band’s small April gig at Pappy & Harriet’s–a beacon of hope, and the exact location where world class music and delicious bbq collide in the heart of Pioneertown, CA. “That’s something that we did with the first album as well, but for the last two albums we were always kind of on the fly, writing and recording.”
Kapranos folds his arms and casts aside the worn-out paperback he’s been carrying around since dinner. “With the last record, we kind of deliberately tried to improvise in the studio…but you know what? I hate that!” Hardy wholeheartedly agrees. “Yeah, I hate it more than you do!”
With a solid base intact, the true recording magic can begin, adds Kapranos. “It’s all sorts of fun trying to figure out what sounds you’re going to stick on [top of a song]. You end up not laboring over the sounds if you’ve got a good song, because what’s fun is immediately obvious—you don’t have to overthink it.”
The result of the much-needed space, fully formed songs and a surge of collaborative energy is Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Clocking in at just over half an hour, Franz Ferdinand’s forthcoming LP sees the group moving away from the dark and colder tone of Tonight and back into the warm and fun-loving arms of killer guitar riffs and seductive vocals.