THE ELEMENT OF MYSTIQUE | Or why Franz Ferdinand continues to endure

Formed in Glasgow, Scotland back in 2001, Franz Ferdinand is a five-man rock group best known for their propulsive brand of indie rock as typified by hits like “Darts of Pleasure,” “This Fire,” “Do You Want To” and their anthemic signature song, “Take Me Out.”

Followed by a string of hit releases throughout the first decade of the new millennium, the band’s releases became few and far between 2010 and 2020, with only two full-length studio albums to their name in Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action in 2013 and Always Ascending in 2019.

This year, Franz Ferdinand is once again making its presence felt with Hits To The Head, a 20-track greatest hits collection released just last March. So far, the album has yielded two new tracks, “Billy Goodbye” and what is considered their latest single, “Curious.”

To promote the new releases, the band’s driving force and charismatic frontman, Alex Kapranos recently granted a virtual interview with SoundStrip and other members of the Philippine media. Excerpts of SoundStrip’s interview here:

I noticed that the new single, “Curious” sounds a lot like the old Franz Ferdinand that fans knew. Does this suggest that the band did not change that much in terms of sound?

It’s funny but looking at all the songs in the album. It’s sounds Franz Ferdinand but it sounds different. I think there are elements of the song (“Curious”) which make up our sound and give us our identity and I think as a band, it’s important to kinda maintain your identity. There are parts of the new song which you won’t find in the songs in our first or second or third albums yet there are elements that immediately make it stand out as Franz Ferdinand.

[In terms of] chord progression, rhythm and the vocal, it’s very different from anything I would have done early on and yet there are elements of the guitar playing which is very much my style which gives it my identity so I’d say half true, half completely wrong which is how it should be.

I first discovered Franz Ferdinand’s via a racing videogame called Burnout: Takedown which included the song, “This Fire.” What’s your take on people discovering your music through other platforms like films and yes, videogames?

Generally, I’m fine with it as long as the content is not obnoxious. I remember back in the early 2000s, our American label used one of our songs for a McDonald’s advert without asking our permission which I didn’t like. But generally, I love the fact that people will discover music through different media as well. That was the case for me when I discovered music from films that I love as a kid growing up.

Although Hits To The Head contains its fair share of new material, are we going to see a new studio album of all-new songs from Franz Ferdinand in the near future?

Working on new songs at the moment. The songs that ended up on (album) were from a selection we’ve already been writing and recording. I cannot say when and what it will be like but yes, there would definitely be something on the horizon.

How much did you feel has the music industry changed since the band first hit its stride in the early 2000s? What are your thoughts about streaming and social media?

I feel much has changed because of the media we put out to the world. There are things that I like about it. I like how easy it is to connect with fans via social media through Twitter and Instagram. That’s really cool and it gives fans a certain control of their destiny. What I don’t like about it is the expectation to have 24-hour continuous access to your life. I feel that destroys an element of the mystique of the musician.

Like, part of the appeal of David Bowie is that he was a mystery and I think that’s important to maintain in this industry. As a consumer, I think it’s great to be able to listen to music instantly via streaming although I find the quality to be particularly awful. But then again, listening to music in my Walkman when I was a kid during the 80s was pretty awful as well so you can’t really complain about that.

Now that the pandemic has somewhat waned in many parts of the world, are you looking forward to touring again and would you consider playing here in the Philippines?

I would love to come to the Philippines. If you know any promoters who would take us over, please tell us to give us a show. We are currently on tour right now. How a relief it is to be back performing after all these difficult years we had. I love being on tour again. It’s who we are, it’s what we do, it’s our identity.

Franz Ferdinand’s Hits To The Head is now available in major streaming platforms.

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