Always Ascending: Franz Ferdinand return as a band reborn
While to outsiders Franz Ferdinand may be inextricably connected to the UK’s decade of post-punk revivalism, Alex Kapranos is still fighting against the notion; “I was part of the underground for a long time in Glasgow, where I was working myself to death for absolutely no reward.”
While many of the other bands associated with the 00’s were plucky young bands who got a guitar after hearing Is This It for the first time, the frontman is keen to stress his was not an overnight success story; “Franz started in my third decade of making music, so I don’t see us as being associated in my head with a decade.” And unlike many of his peers, who were became burned out; “We didn’t just make one record and stop – it’s a continued piece of work.”
That’s what makes Always Ascending such a pointed name for their fifth album. It seems unlikely the latest singles with match the success of Take Me Out or Do You Wanna, but that doesn’t discourage Kapranos. If anything, that chance to try new avenues is more exciting than that anyway.
“While you can tell this new record is Franz Ferdinand, it also sounds massively different from our second, third or fourth records.” He takes a pause; “Maybe that’s the secret. You’ve got to be unashamed of who you are, but equally unafraid of going somewhere completely new and embracing it.”
During our conversation that sense of enjoyment during the recording process keeps returning. After I ask whether he actively thinks about the reaction to this new sound while writing and recording the album, he tells me that from him writing “is actually a very selfish thing in a way, you’re writing to give yourself a buzz and that feels really great.”
He does concede, however, that in the past he was preoccupied with looking at album reviews once the record was out in the world. This time, however he tells me he’s been “psychologically very strong” and has avoided reading any reviews. He laughs and says that it’s got to the stage where he’ll interrupt friends who ask about reviews.
True to his word, he does the same to me once I say he’d probably be very happy with the reception. “The thing is, I felt good making the record. I put everything in to it, and we came up with something pretty original.” He already sounds nostalgic about the album, despite it being released just four days before we speak, “My memories of the record are really, really good and just having a good social time to laugh with my pals and that’s how I want to remember it, not through the filter of somebody else’s reaction.”
Given the five-year gap between albums, it feels pre-emptive to start discussing album number six but there is a palpable lift around the band – from everyone in the press, to fans, to the band themselves. Will we have to wait until 2023 before we speak again about a new album? “I hope not,” Kapranos laughs, “the band feels really great at the moment. I love being back, I’m literally counting down the hours because I’m desperate to get on stage.”