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Franz Ferdinand excited for Newcastle gig at the O2 Academy

Franz Ferdinand wind up their UK tour on frontman Alex Kapranos’ childhood stamping ground. He talks to Sam Wonfor about trusting your instincts and getting excited again

Andy Knowles Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand

Some of last year’s headlines surrounding the supposed ‘return’ of Franz Ferdinand could easily have led you to believe the quartet of band members, Alex Kapranos, Nick McCarthy, Bob Hardy and Paul Thomson, had been living in separate underground caves since their last album release of 2009.

But you would have been led right up the garden path, and you needn’t just take my word for it.

“We actually played live quite a lot since the last record came out... and we didn’t really stop. I think the longest we went without a gig was about seven months,” says lead singer Alex, speaking from his home near Dumfries during a period of by-proxy paternity leave, courtesy of bandmate Nick’s new arrival.

All that said, though, you can definitely sense an air of fresh excitement about the Glasgow-bred band, who burst onto the scene in 2004 with an eponymous debut album - and the Take Me Out anthem which came with it.

The newfound energy and associated ‘buzz’ have come courtesy of their latest release, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, which clocked up a number six in the mainstream album charts and a number one in the indie hit parade.

I wonder what prompted them to get back into the studio after quite a while away.

“It’s just instinct,” says Alex, who used his home studio for much of the recording.

“For me, ever since I started playing in a band it has always been that great, exciting thing you do with your life which you do outside your routine. Being in a band is exciting.

“It’s this exotic part of your life which is almost like an escape to this other wonderful world.

“I like to try and keep it feeling that way and I hate the idea that being in a band would ever become a routine.

“So if you do feel like that, it’s good to break that routine and go away and do something else so that you’ve got this yearning desire to go back in the studio and on the road and make music with these guys who are your best mates.

“You know when it feels right. We were all talking and just decided that the time was right to do it.”

Once they got back into the studio, their instincts were borne out.

“It felt good. We were enjoying playing the songs and having a good time.

“It’s weird, though. When you record, you’re recording in this secret world where nobody else knows what you’re up to and, for me, it’s only when you play the songs live that you get a true understanding of the way people are reacting to them.

“I think it was at Coachella (the music festival on the American west coast) when we were playing some of the new songs in front of a really big audience for the first time, and we thought, ‘yeah, this is working’.”

Nice, then, that once released in the summer of 2013, the album brought a big old global tour t-shirt order with it.

“It’s fantastic to be back out on the road again,” says Alex. “The band’s great at the moment and the audiences have been fantastic. That’s the lovely thing about live gigs. It’s a unique moment which will never be repeated and I love to savour that.”

Having already completed their tour commitments in America, Japan and South Asia, the band are looking forward to a raft of UK dates in March before setting off for the rest of Europe.

“I can’t wait because it has been a little while since we played a lot of these cities in the UK.” Newcastle is one of them... but not for long. The band will bring the UK leg of proceedings to a close at the city’s 02 Academy on March 27. The gig represents a kind of homecoming for Alex, who grew up on South Tyneside until moving to Edinburgh when he was seven.

“Oh, I have a lot of memories from my time in the North East,” he says in a Scottish accent which also remembers where he came from. “I know,” he laughs at the observation. “I was in a pub in Glasgow last night and this guy at the bar was like, ‘Alex, where exactly are you from?’

“Even thought we left, my grandparents still lived in South Shields - my Nana still does - so we came down every second or third weekend. There’s a lot of family on my dad’s side there, too, so there’s always been a strong link. It’s always a real treat to play there.

Franz Ferdinand play Newcastle O2 Academy on March 27. For tickets, call 0844 477 2000.

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