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dimanche 27 octobre 2013

Album de la Semaine : Future of the Left - How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident

Future of the Left

How To Stop Your Brain in an Accident

Interview d'Andy Falkous, par Mike Diver de Clash

Future Of The Left 2009
Andy Falkous is frontman of Future Of The Left, to some the most important rock band in Britain. Smart, witty, acerbic – the Welsh trio deliver the goods with such ferocious consistency that their second LP, ‘Travels With Myself And Another’, has already flicked Clash’s switches to the tune of a 9/10 REVIEW. It’s a worth follow-up to the group’s phenomenal debut of 2007, ‘Curses’.

Clash sat down with Falkous – who is joined by drummer Jack Egglestone and bassist Kelson Mathias in FOTL – to talk current musical affairs, and also the legacy of his previous band, the equally acclaimed Mclusky.

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You had to cancel a tour to concentrate on writing this new album – who had to make that call? Did you simply not have enough material?
Well, in terms of actually cancelling that dates, that was a decision which was taken on our behalf rather than by us. Even though I understand the logic behind the decision I think it was the wrong decision. It was embarrassing to cancel shows at the last minute, absolutely embarrassing. Basically what happened is that the album needed to be out by June (it’s released on June 22), and so many dates had been put in between November and June that once we worked it out we only had about two weeks to write the thing. So at that point the options became either delay the album, or cancel the shows. Myself, I would have probably tried to do both. In the end it can be a positive thing, giving us a bit more time as the writing has gone far better than we could of imagined. But cancelling at such short notice was pretty embarrassing. I’m not somebody who cancels shows; I’m far too fucking proud for that.

Fans did get a live album though, between studio releases – ‘Last Night I Saved Her From Vampires’. What prompted that release?
Well in terms of being a live band, our total commitment to that medium is obvious to anyone who has seen us – even if they don’t enjoy the music. The repartee which exists with the audience, which varies from show to show, is again an important part of the band. The records themselves never fully represent the personalities of the people therein, so we wanted to represent a bit of that on a relatively cheap CD format. Also, we had people talking to us about merchandise and I just don’t feel comfortable with some bag with the band’s name written apologetically over it being sold for ten quid. Or a bikini with a song title written on it, that’s not the way I see my life going. For us, if we have to be so fucking crass with the music then we’d rather give people some more music. It also gives us an opportunity to make a few quid at the merch stall.

The band’s renowned for the energy and commitment that comes through in its live show. What effect does that have on the three of you?
Even though we’re relatively mellow people off stage, it’s not an act really, it’s what we live to do in a very real sense of the word. The only way it really takes its toll, apart from a residual knackeredness, is particularly on my throat. Singing in that way, at really humid and clammy shows, means that we can only do about four or five shows in a row. I guess some bands with a more fey attitude can probably play from now until the end of time without getting a twinge in the back of their throat. It does get absolutely exhausting, I’m not going to deny that, but it’s that good kind of exhaustion – like you’ve been chased by sexy wolves for about four hours through a dense forest.

Cardiff’s renowned music venue The Point closed recently. What happened there? 
We were actually meant to play there for the first time in May, so we were all disappointed on that front. In terms of the way live music is going across the country, let alone Cardiff, it’s a bit of a damning indictment. Soon you’ll just have Barfly and Academy venues all over the place. I mean, there’s some good people working those venues, but they’re not music venues first and foremost. I can think of the Academy 2 in Manchester which sounds good as a music venue, but apart from that every one of the chain venues I have played has been a room with a bar and stage. Watching someone play rock music is about a lot more than that. You don’t wanna play in a room where if somebody in the crowd moves about five yards to the right then the sonic experience is different. Or if someone moves from the front to the back and there’s no bass. That to me isn’t a responsible way of running music venues and letting people enjoy music. I’ve had enough of running shows where the venues sound like shit; I’ve had enough of watching bands get crucified by the odd shape of a room or a crap PA. I think that music venues should get their fingers out of their considerable arses, and spend less money on drinks promotions and plough some of the profits into rooms that sound good for the bands. The Point is a symptom of that: it was a proper music venue that simply through the action and inaction of Cardiff City Council no longer exists. It’s a very sad state of affairs.

On ‘Curses’ you seemed to feel free to experiment. Is that something that continues on the new album?
Well we didn’t sit down and come up with a plan for it, which is the way it should be with a record – we didn’t dictate too much to the music. Without sounding contrived, ‘The Contrarian’ on the last record just came about in the studio. We were messing about with a piano and the music just fitted lyrics that I had already written. In all, it took about three minutes to write. We find that with our band in general we will slave away for months and months, and write and write, but nothing of great value happens. Then all of a sudden, as has happened with this record, the songs just kept on falling, like manna from heaven, and then two months later we had a record of twelve songs. I guess it’s just like the hard work you do in any walk of life is immediately apparent. You work towards those moments, through months of work doing things that you might have rejected. But you have been consciously moving towards a certain aesthetic. This record is as varied, but it also is more straightforward. Even though ‘Curses’ is hardly full of strange intros and extraneous noises, this one is even less so. It’s even shorter, only 33 minutes long. It’s twelve songs and some people might think that’s a bit short but it’s not – it’s just right! I suppose it’s a bit more streamlined but it sounds bigger and is a little bit more unrelenting. Like ‘Curses’ it starts off with some of its heaviest songs, then the colours kind of gradually start to come in over the course of the record.

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Why did you start ‘Curses’ with ‘The Lord Hates A Coward’?
Just because ‘The Lord Hates A Coward’ was definitely the first song where we reached a certain standard of writing. The album title ‘Curses’ came from the general spirit of that, which the second song didn’t evoke. It’s a bit of a weird opening, as it’s a slow, pounding song, and I know when we play that song live – which we don’t always do – it can be a bit of an intimidating moment for people, whereas songs such as ‘Small Bones Small Bodies’ or ‘Manchasm’ are more welcoming to people who aren’t familiar with us. But ‘The Lord Hates A Coward’ can be very alienating. It just sounds right there, and I like the idea of a record being an adventure – starting with one particular mindset then fruitily bringing in a bit of pop, then the keyboards of ‘Manchasm’. It’s a bit like waking from a bad dream – well, I say a bad dream, but maybe a bad dream where people are wearing nice shoes. Like waking from a bad dream and then being exposed to all the different colours of the world.

While the music’s pretty direct, at its rawest, lyrically there’s always plenty of creativity evident. Presumably wordplay is very important to you?
I guess I’ve always had an interest in rock music, but I’ve always had an interest in words. Some of my favourite bands have had lyrics that are predictable and dull. The lyrics on this new album, while they might be confused with absolute bollocks, are a little bit more linear, they make a little bit more sense. I’m guessing some people might actually be able to see stories in the songs. Myself, I like to create sketches and draw pictures with lyrics – creating an impression of a situation without actually spelling it out for people. For me it comes from reading books like Catch 22 as a kid, or watching Monty Python – just being entertained by the patterns and the fun that language can bring, instead of the rather traditional approach of ‘the man had black hair’. There are other ways of saying it, of painting around the facts, which are far more fun. A lot of my lyrics just start with the rhythms of the songs, and most of them are written at the last second. As much as I enjoy my lyrics, and they are definitely a strength of the band, I would never claim that most of them have any deep meaning – that would be a lie.

The label you were signed to, Too Pure, was absorbed into 4AD, who are now releasing the new album. Has this affected you in any way?
It probably will affect the band but whether that’s a good or a bad thing is impossible to say at this stage. I mean, I’ll be able to tell you that the migration to 4AD has been positive for us six to nine months after the record comes out. At the minute it would be purely hypothetical. We’re still working with the same people there, it’s just that they have different job titles. Beggars Banquet as a group probably did have too many labels, but the difference is that on Too Pure you can trundle along and sell a few records whereas on 4AD there’s more staff and bigger expectations as such. The pressure is on us a little bit more. But I’m fine with that, as I work very well with pressure. I would sooner have that than trundle along in some little backwater. I’d rather get out there.

Does the praise lavished on ‘Curses’ increase this pressure?
That’s why we feel under pressure. I mean, ‘Curses’ didn’t sell any fucking copies – it was spectacularly unsuccessful in that sense. For me, the pressure I feel is mostly coming up with new material. I’m very, very proud of ‘Curses’ – as I am of the last two Mclusky records as well. The first one I can take or leave really, as it was essentially a collection of demos, although there’re a few good songs on there. I was very, very proud of ‘Curses’, and at one stage I thought it was going to be impossible to follow something of that standard. On one level if this record doesn’t take us to a much bigger audience then there’s nothing else I can do. Of all the records I’ve worked on, this is the one. This is the one that at this stage I’m most proud about, the most secure about. It really doesn’t let off at all – it doesn’t step outside of itself for a second. It’s only 33 minutes long but it’s so complete, so confident even to someone who’s in the band, that it’s a little bit farcical. The pressure comes personally; we don’t want to be some lame band who rehash their last record and as a result end up being popular in Germany. That’s how you get successful in Germany: just release the same record for 20 years.

You mention Mclusky, and I know you’ve revived some songs like ‘Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’ for FOTL live sets. Why make this decision?
Well, that was really a decision of its time. We were playing in Australia last March, and Australian audiences really do make us feel like when we play it’s an event. We get taken for granted by British audiences – if you look at the reaction to our shows, I think that would be true. Also at the time we only had one record out so our set wasn’t incredibly long, and people were paying the equivalent of about eighteen or nineteen quid to come along and see us. There were people who hadn’t seen Mclusky as well. So on one level we almost felt obligated to give them a longer show, and to be quite frank that song is possibly the easiest song in the world to play. It is basically ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ sped up with lyrics which aren’t as good. It was fun, but that’s the only time we’ve ever played it. I don’t totally rule it out in the future, but what I can tell you is that if anyone ever requests it at a show, that reduces the chances of us playing it to zero. It’s not something which is given to an audience that expects it; it’s a special little bonus present from a band who appear onstage to be a bunch of nasty sarcastic bastards, but who love playing live, and offer it to their audience in recognition of their level of support.

Line Up :
Andy "Falco" Falkous
Jack Egglestone
Jimmy Watkins
Julia Ruzicka

Label :

Tracklist :
01 – Bread, Cheese, Bow And Arrow
02 – Johnny Borrell Afterlife
03 – Future Child Embarrassment Matrix
04 – The Male Gaze
05 – Singing Of The Bonesaws
06 – I Don’t Know What You Ketamine (But I Think I Love You)
07 – French Lessons
08 – How To Spot A Record Company
09 – Donny Of The Decks
10 – She Gets Passed Around At Parties
11 – Something Happened
12 – The Real Meaning Of Christmas
13 – Things To Say To Friendly Policemen
14 – Why Aren’t I Going To Hell

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