Scotland’s Franz Ferdinand released a new single at the beginning of the month, (you can hear it in this week’s playlist) ahead of a greatest hits early in 2022. That suggests they’ve got a bit of history behind them. Twenty years actually, come 2022.
Wind Back Wednesday steps into that history and onto the bus in 2006 with singer/songwriter Alex Kapranos, with the unlikely extra baggage of a Gallagher or two.
IT’S AROUND MIDDAY ON THE TOUR BUS in Vienna and Alex Kapranos, front man of Scottish-Anglo-Greek quartet Franz Ferdinand, has just woken up and been given a cup of tea and a mobile phone. Sorry to have dragged you from bed I say.
"I'm still in bed," he says groggily.
Given that, along with their debut album's jerky pop, which was equal parts dance and nervous anger, their retro fashion sense was one of Franz Ferdinand's calling cards we're naturally led to the question: what does a Franz Ferdinand chap wear to bed? Does he go commando or is it a natty pair of pyjamas?
"No, I don't wear pyjamas on tour though I do know someone who does," chuckles Kapranos before grassing up one of his fellow Glaswegian musicians. "One member of Belle and Sebastian, Mick [Cooke] always has pyjamas. I used to play in a band with him and he used to take pyjamas with him. Really nice ones too."
Unlike this comfortable tour bus, when Kapranos toured with Cooke in one of the many bands he spent a decade marking time in before Franz Ferdinand's self-titled debut album became a multi-million seller, it was more likely to be four men in a transit van. Or worse.
"I remember one time we did it in the back of an old ambulance, a tour around the squats of Holland," Kapranos says wistfully. "That was a great tour."
Were there ever times during those squat tours where he considered why he was doing this and whether college could have been a better choice?
"No. No, not at all," he says. "I never wanted a particularly safe or predictable life. For years I played in bands and never made any money from it or had a financially stable life but it was exciting and I thought there was something worthwhile about what I was doing. That's as good a reason as any to continue doing it."
That and a few glasses of red wine and Coke. Honestly, that's one of Kapranos's drink selections on stage. Which may explain their lively and, on the evidence of their shows in Australia in 2004, hugely entertaining live performances.
"I don't like to get plastered before a gig," Kapranos defends himself.
I wasn't thinking so much about you getting plastered as the sheer assault on your stomach of that combination.
"It is probably the most disgusting mixture but it is actually quite tasty."
Next it will be trying to convince us that another Scottish delicacy deep-fried Mars bar is "actually quite tasty"
"I have heard that a number of the top restaurants in Scotland have occasionally served it," he says mock seriously. "I've tried one from the fish and chip shop. It's not my favourite."
Of course this talk of PJs and non-ale beverages would likely fire up one of Franz Ferdinand's critics, Gentleman Noel Gallagher of once-were-important Oasis. Gallagher senior was quoted not so long ago saying: "[Kapranos] reminds me of fucking Right Said Fred. You put on, I'm Too Sexy For My fucking Shirt, and I bet you any money it's the same person. It's the same fucking person! He's just gone on the Atkins diet and grown his hair! Not my thing at all. I don't like quirky, weird music."
I wonder whether Kapranos had some sneaking fondness or even respect for that kind of bite given that it's been said that when the band was formed, Franz Ferdinand was almost defined by what they were not, by what they were against.
"I've got respect for people who speak their mind and say how they feel about things but it wasn't Noel who said that it was Liam and Liam Gallagher knows he can get press from being as obnoxious as he can," says Kapranos, warming to the task. "When I read the press that surrounded them earlier this year it sounded like an extremely anxious, neurotic young girl at a high school who thought that she had younger, better looking competition and was just bitching about everything about her.
“Because I think everybody, the Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, every contemporary band was at the end of some form of vitriol from him. I'm not particularly bothered by him; it just seems like bitchery from cheap neuroses."
Sounds like Alex Kapranos is wide awake now.