Bestival: Franz Ferdinand are back with a bang

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Franz Ferdinand play the Main stage between Rudimental and headliner Snoop Dogg at Bestival tomorrow.

But, as the Glasweigan band’s frontman Alex Kapranos admitted to The Observer recently, they very nearly weren’t still around at all.

Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand

‘I wanted to split the band up, because in my head it felt like one of those jobs… the ones I had to jack in.

‘I didn’t like the routine and the obligations,’ revealed Alex, 41, who sings and plays guitar in the chart-topping art-rock group.

But two years on from that and four years since their last record, the Mercury Music Prize winning band are back with an album that critics and fans are praising in equal measure.

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, their fourth studio album, went into the album chart at number six on Sunday.

Recorded and produced over the last year with collaborators Mark Ralph, Alexis Taylor, Joe Goddard (Hot Chip), Todd Terje and Björn Yttling (Peter Björn and John), the album is still recognisably Franz, with the guitar riffs which won them a timeless hit with Take Me Out.

But, like the last record – Tonight, it’s all a bit more disco than their earlier material.

In fact, Right Thoughts has taken an even wider Travolta white-flared-stride away from their original sound and is positively glam-rock in places.

‘In a way, I feel all of our records are dancefloor records,’ says Alex. ‘Even the rockier sounding You Could Have It So Much Better.’

‘We take as much influence from “dance” music as we do from rock and roll,’ he adds.

‘I sometimes feel there is an “either/or” snobbery between genres, which I’ve always thought was a bit ridiculous. Like saying you don’t like Bergerac because you like Poirot.’

Alex says the album is ‘the intellect versus the soul, played out by some dumb band’.

‘It’s Franz Ferdinand doing something new,’ he explains.

‘It has the essence of what gives us our sound. Even when we cover songs, it always sounds like Franz Ferdinand.

‘We covered Britney, the Beatles and Grimes and they all sounded like us. I see that as a good thing.

‘It means we have a personality. We’re not session guys who can mimic anyone else.

‘It’s always us.

‘But there are quite a few new sounds and new ideas, from the pastoral disco strings of Stand On The Horizon, to the Turkish beats of Goodbye Lovers and Friends and the cumbia slouch of Brief Encounters,’ he continues.

Unlike Tonight, which was based around the theme of a night out, Right Thoughts has no one unifying theme.

‘There are strands that run through the record,’ says Alex. ‘I reckon the title sums it up pretty well though.’

So why did they chose to name an album after a concept from Buddhist theology?

‘The title is taken from the chorus of the song Right Action and we felt it summed up the positivity of the band and the LP,’ says Alex, who collapsed due to a nut allergy at a Festival in Hungry last month but recovered and went on to perform.

‘The chorus is an answer to the verses, which are written as emotional paradoxes like “come home, practically all is nearly forgiven” or “this time, same as before, love you forever”.

‘So many emotional situations we find ourselves in are like this: straightforward at first glance, but with underlying conflict.

‘There’s no answer for how to deal with these situations, but right thoughts, right words, right action seems like a pretty good attitude to me.

‘I’m not a Buddhist, but I’m curious,’ continues Alex who has worked as an English teacher, a welder, a food columnist, a chef, a barman and an actor (as a chainsaw wielding maniac).

But what were the band doing for four years between these last two albums?

‘It probably seems longer from the outside than it does for us,’ explains Alex.

‘We’re blessed with the curse of being popular around the world, which means we’re lucky enough to be able to tour around the world and unlucky in that we spent pretty much two years on tour.

‘There was a period of around a year before we started on this LP and during that time we did different things. I produced a couple of LPs by Citizens! and RM Hubbert, Bob made some films, Paul drummed on a few LPs and Nick scored a puppet show.’

We can expect a tour announcement in the coming months and Alex says there are ‘a couple of surprises afoot’, but ‘it’s all top secret’.

For now, though, they’re just enjoying playing their new material live at festivals like Bestival this weekend and then around the world throughout October.

Alex is certainly a lot happier than he was two years ago.

‘I enjoyed making this LP more than any of the others and I reckon you can hear it in the recording,’ he says.

‘We only went in for short bursts at a time, recording two to three songs.

‘It meant that it felt very fresh and spontaneous.

‘One thing that I realised a long time ago is that the character of a band comes from what happens when they all play together at the same time.

‘I know that sounds like an obvious thing to say, but most bands forget it when they go in to record.

‘They record each instrument at a time and edit the life out of it with Pro Tools.

‘We did the opposite.

‘At the heart of every song is the sound of us playing in a room together.

‘It’s a simple attitude with far reaching consequences.’