Gap year for teacher to hobnob with band

A NORTHUMBERLAND teacher has proved to her students that she definitely rocks by taking a break from the classroom to get close to one of the music world’s trendiest bands.

A NORTHUMBERLAND teacher has proved to her students that she definitely rocks by taking a break from the classroom to get close to one of the music world’s trendiest bands.

Helen Chase

Helen Chase, a teacher at Bedlington Station First School, became so passionate about the Mercury Prize-winning group Franz Ferdinand that she spent 18 months researching and interviewing the four-piece for her debut book.

It led the mother-of-two from Morpeth to take a year-long break from the classroom to write An A-Z of Franz Ferdinand based on in-depth exclusive interviews and photographs.

The band – Alex Kapranos, Nick McCarthy, Bob Hardy and Paul Thomson – who themselves have taken time out of the limelight to concentrate on their eagerly-awaited third album, were more than happy to oblige.

“I never set out with the ambition to write a book, or to write a book on Franz Ferdinand, it came from me getting back into music,” said Helen, whose book has been published by Northumbria University Press.

“I lost quite a lot of interest in music during the 1990s and wasn’t as much into it as I was when I was younger. I wanted to get back into music again and I was just really fascinated by the ideas behind their songs and how they presented it.

“From seeing them on television, they just made me stop what I was doing, they had a very strong visual impact.”

Helen, who has two children, Jane, 22, and Phil, 21, admits leaving the comforts of her teaching position was tough.

She said: “It was mad because I gave up a year’s salary and had to make a fairly quick decision.

“I had no involvement from the band, no publisher and, of course, no guarantee it was going to be successful. It was just the right time for me. It was now or never.

“I never did it for money, it was for the experience and just something completely different.

“The book just happened. It wasn’t a chore at all and I had to turn myself away from it at times.”

A self-confessed fan, Helen spent 18 months with the band, whose hits include Take Me Out and Do You Want To, interviewing them in the relaxed environments of their native Glasgow.

Lead singer Kapranos spent some of his childhood in South Shields, South Tyneside, where he still has family.

“They were just very normal people, very open and very personable,” said Helen, who will hold the launch of her book next Sunday at The Cluny, in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley.

An A-Z of Franz Ferdinand is available from Monday, November 19, priced £15.95.

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