Franz Ferdinand's Paul Thomson: Four-on-the-floor is never going to die
With retro-tinged singles like "Take Me Out," Franz Ferdinand got the indie kids dancing 10 years ago. After winning the Mercury Prize for their self-titled debut, the Glaswegian quartet quickly capitalized with the underrated You Could Have It So Much Better, and toured relentlessly. But their last two albums signaled a retreat, and a four-year gap led to their new full-length, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. The new material recalls the pulsing, rhythmic sounds of their early work, while also reflecting a more modern flair.
Ahead of their show at the Skyway Theatre tonight, Gimme Noise spoke with drummer Paul Thomson. Thomson detailed the recording sessions for the new album, how his DJ experience affects his approach to the rhythm of their songs, and his fanciful memories of playing an undersold Target Center early in the band's career.
Gimme Noise: After releasing your first two albums in rapid succession, you took four years in between each of your last two records. What was the motivation behind slowing things down so drastically?
Paul Thomson: It seemed like most of that time we were on tour, and the world is quite large. And after touring, we needed a break, so we took some time off before we started writing again. But we took some time off so we could actually have some sort of normal life experiences to draw from, instead of living this artificial existence on the road all the time. We're even getting to that stage now -- it becomes mind numbing after a while. You need to get home for a bit and see your friends and stuff like that.
The new album was recorded at Alex's studio in Scotland and Nick's London studio -- what were the sessions like, and did the change in location affect the tone and tenor of the songs in any way?
Not so much --mainly it was our working practices being different that kind of affected the songs, because we'd only play and record for four days or so at a time and then take a week off. You don't want to overwork things, because we've been doing it for long enough now that we know where our limits lie. We know when we're getting to the point of diminishing returns. It's good to work on something and then leave it be for a little while, instead of overworking it. And also just knowing when something is finished as well, and to stop tinkering with it. Like the third record was kind of blighted by endless tinkering.
How did having such tremendous success straight away affect the band initially, and did that swelling spotlight ever prove to be difficult for you to handle?
I guess people start treating you differently -- people that you've never met before treat you differently, which is weird. I never quite get used to that. Just meeting people that know your name and you don't know theirs -- you've never met them before, but they know who you are, it's just a really weird thing to deal with. So there's a lot of that.
But at least you can get some free pints out of the deal I suppose, yeah?
Oh yeah [laughs]. But when the four of us are just making music together, and there's just the four of us in a room then none of that ever factors into it. It doesn't make any difference, because there's no one else there. We might have changed as human beings as we've grown up a bit, but we're still the same with each other. We're probably better now.
When you guys were coming up, how did the flourishing Glaswegian music scene influence or inform the band's sound and your approach to the industry?
Well, it was more in terms of attitude, really. In Glasgow's indie music scene, people just kind of tended to do it for themselves. And when we started out, we were doing it for ourselves because there wasn't anybody else there. I think I might have given a demo to a friend of mine whose band was based in London, and he passed it on to their manager, who now manages us. And it all really started to go off from there, really. But we still have this Glasgow sensibility about us, where we like being removed from London in terms of the music we make.
How does your lengthy DJ experience affect your approach to providing the rhythm to Franz Ferdinand's songs?
I guess since I DJ a lot of house and stuff like that, and four albums in and we're still doing four-on-the-floor, mid-tempo music. But you know, four-on-the-floor is never going to die.
Thank God for that.