Tuesday, March 03, 2009

This Fire...The Story of Franz Ferdinand....Show # 238

Forming in Scotland in 2002, Franz Ferdinand had its beginnings amongst other bands. Alex Kapranos (who would be the lead singer/guitar in Franz) was at one point in a local Scotish group called Yummy Fur with Paul Thomson (who would play drums with Franz). The two began to write songs together and Kapranos would teach a friend (Bob Hardy) to play bass. Nick McCarthy then came into the picture. He returned to Scotland after studying classical piano and double bass. The seeds of the group began to grow and then the band named themselves after Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Franz Ferdinand is cited as a major cause for World War One. Originally the groups name was inspired by a race horse name The Archduke, after some discussion with other groups members, their conversation drifted towards the discussion of The Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The group thought that the name Franz Ferdinand sounded good and that a bands name should sound good, as should a song.

The band then rented an abandoned house where they would rehearse and have big parties celebrating music and art. In the summer of 2002, Franz Ferdinand had an EP's worth of material that they intended to be release themselves. Word of mouth spread as did the bands reputation, and in 2003 Franz Ferdinand signed to Domino Records. Darts of Pleasure was released in September of 2003 in the UK and November in Canada and the US. The EP contained three songs "Darts of Pleasure", "Van Tango", and "Shopping For Blood". The bands sound has often been described as post punk influenced. Listening to their early material an ominous Gang of Four influence is present, but the bands sound is more elaborate than that. They also draw in influences from David Bowie, Joy Division, The Fall, Talking Heads, Sparks, The Kinks, Buzzcocks, and electronic music.

In 2004, Franz Ferdinand released their first self titled album. The album was recorded in Malmo, Sweden with producer Tore Johansson (The Cardigans). "Take Me Out" did very well in the UK (#3 on the singles charts) and was one of the first singles to be featured from the album. Other singles from Franz Ferdinand were "This Fire", and "The Dark of the Matinee". Other interesting tracks include "Jacqueline", "Auf Achse", "Cheating On You", and 40". The album received high critical acclaim and eventually climbed the US Billboard charts. Franz Ferdinand incorporated intelligent literary topics into their music along with the music itself to create a unique, catchy combination of words and music. The band also has an art element to their music. Their videos have displayed this as well as their album artwork, which often reflects Russian Avant-garde imagery. Critics have gone on to say that Franz Ferdinand has the same feel as albums from bands such as The Beatles, Roxy Music, Wire, Blur, The Who, Duran Duran who all started bands influenced by art school. The album has since then gone on to sell over 3 million world wide.

In 2005, Franz Ferdinand released their second album You Could Have it So Much Better. Produced with Rich Costley at the bands own studio in Glasgow, the album took on more of a rock based influence as opposed to the bands first album which had elements of disco within the music. The first single "Do You Want To" was more reminiscent of the bands earlier sound, while the bands second single "Walk Away" was a more morose track. "The Fallen" was a song that is a good representation of the album, loud fast, and catchy. Other great tracks on the album include "This Boy", "Evil and A Heathen", and "You're the Reason I'm Leaving". Apparently the song is believed to be about a rivalry between former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and the current UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The album is a personal favourite of mine, it definitely takes on a 70s punk/post punk influence. The album debuted at #1 on the UK album charts and in top ten all over the world. The album was not only the first number one for the band, but also for Domino Records. The album art for this album reflects the artwork of Russian Avant-garde photographer Alexander Rodchenko.

After a long tour and a break the band reconvened to begin work on their third album. The band had material written in 2005 in preparation for their next album, but scrapped the songs because Kapranos wanted the band to take their time and develop the songs more. Beginning in 2007, Franz Ferdinand worked on material for what to was become Tonight. They worked with producer Dan Carey (initially the band was going to work with producer Brian Higgins before switching to Carey). The album was released in January of 2009 and all of the songs are based loosely, around the concept of a night of partying and the morning after. The first single from the album was the song "Ulysses". The song is apparently about someone who is lost (it also draws upon the literary reference to the story by James Joyce titled Ulysses). Other interesting tracks include "Turn it On", "Bite Hard", "Lucid Dreams", "What She Came For", No You Girls", and "Kiss Me Katherine". The album draws more on the bands earlier sound, bringing in elements of electronica, dub/reggae, 80's synthesizer music. The album debuted in the top ten on album charts across the world and was well received by critics and fans of the band. The album artwork was made to look like crime scene photos and comes off having a very Berlin-era David Bowie vibe.

Franz Ferdinand are a band that mix musical influences of post punk, 70s punk, disco, electronica, dance, indie rock, and elements of art into their music. They currently have touring plans which has included the Glastonbury Festival and Coachella music festival.

The Play List:

1. Beck - Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat
2. Polymorphines - Call of the Sparrow
3. The Perms - As You Were
4. Chuck Berry - Beautiful Delilah
5. James Brown - I'll Never Let You Go
6. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Get Ready
7. REM - See No Evil
8. Hot Nasties - This is Unlove
9. Ride Theory - Parking Ticket
10. Mink Devile - She's So Tough
11. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Going Going Gone (Time Version)
12. The Real Kids - All Kindsa Girls
13. The Tighe Brothers Band - Thinking Too Much
14. The Mark Inside - Carousel
15. The Marble Index - We Can Make It
16. Hairspray - The Ridge
17. Dum Dum Boys - Let There Be Noise
18. White Stripes - Jolene
19. The Steps - Cold Floors
20. Von Bondies - Shut Your Mouth
21. Franz Ferdinand - Call Me
22. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sheena is A Punk Rocker
23. Franz Ferdinand - Send Him Away
24. Franz Ferdinand - Turn it On

To download this week's show visit the CJAM archives and select the files 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM on March, 3rd 2009.

Franz Videos:

Take Me Out
Darts of Pleasure
The Dark of the Matinee
The Fallen
Walk Away
Eleanor Put Your Boots On
Do You Want To


The Washing Machine said...

dont you love that new war child heros comp? very informative post Dave, you confirmed my guess about the origin of the band's name. and now i know more about them!


Dave said...

That compilation is great. Did you hear Beck's version of Leopard Skin-Pill Box Hat (originally by Bob Dylan)?

I heard your show this week and you played some stuff from it too. Good stuff.

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Dave said...

I'm glad you like the articles I write. I try to do my best to put together interesting reads on interesting bands.

Thanks for reading.

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