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dimanche 15 mai 2016

Album de la Semaine : Future of the Left - The Peace and Truce of Future of the Left

Future of the Left
The Peace and Truce of Future of the Left

Interview de Future of the Left, par Will Fitzpatrick de The Skinny

Andrew Falkous is a reformed character. “I’m really doing my best not to slag off other bands,” he explains, following a sixteen-year career as one of the premier agent provocateurs of UK rock music, first with Mclusky and now with the remarkable Future of the Left. “I’ve done interviews where I’ve made one disparaging remark about a band, and that’s always the headline. It’s always ‘MATT BELLAMY A GOBLIN, SAYS FALCO’. I didn’t say he was a goblin!”
This newly-placid Falco certainly echoes the title of his band’s new album. The Peace and Truce of Future of The Left is suggestive of a much more sedate affair than their usual serrated riffola. It’s a relief, then, to discover that FOTL remain as brutal and noisy as ever, with their frontman’s barbed lyricism on devilishly hilarious form as he tears strips from themes such as bourgeois self-entitlement and cultural complacency alongside a host of additional topics, all ripe for ridicule. With cosier concepts such as ‘peace’ and ‘truce’ seeming pretty far from the record’s true essence, we have to ask: what’s with that title?
“It actually comes from a movement in the early middle ages called The Peace and Truce of God,” he says, “which was kind of a version 1.0 of chivalry – a code placed on knights to try and formalise their behaviour, to stop them from attacking strangers and taking all their stuff. It sounds far more worthy and mighty than it was – a bunch of rules for a gang of bullies, a formal reaction to misbehaviour. Basically, ‘God is with you, but don’t be too much of a bastard. There are limits to how much of a bastard you can be.’”
That almost makes it sound like the album itself is a manifesto, we suggest. This meets a skeptical response.
“Perhaps… That’s unconscious though. It’s one of my least favourite things about bands, when they have a manifesto. Maybe they grew up during the heyday of the music press, when you had to say a succession of really stupid things in order to hide the fact that your band sounded like Guns n’Roses. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very nice to have things to say, but a rock band’s main function is to make rock music, I would think. Unfortunately, we have a lot of artists – and I use that term loosely – who say controversial things in order to cover up the fact that they make incredibly bland music.”
Clinging firmly to his resolution, he offers no examples to support the point – this older, wiser Falco seems comfortably resigned to armistace: “If a band has an audience, that justifies the band and its actions, I suppose. Can’t blame people for being themselves. And the people that go out and support it… that’s their business.” He chuckles to himself. “I don’t have controversial opinions – it’s the fans who are at fault!  It reminds me of that Bill Hicks line about being in the unusual position of being for the war, but against the troops.”
The antagonism hasn’t entirely gone away then, we note.
“Yeah,” he replies. “The people I admire are prepared to grow on… well, not on a dailybasis, who can be arsed? Fuck that. But even for somebody who enjoys speaking my mind, I’m genuinely horrified if I really offend somebody. Sometimes that’s a good thing, ‘cause if you’re gonna offend somebody with something you might say, maybe you should look at why. And then, after you’ve looked at it, maybe you can go, ‘nah, fuck those people.’ But at least you’ve thought about it, rather than accepting everything about yourself uncritically.”

Falco's sense of humour

The whole Future of the Left experience seems to ride on their mordant sense of humour, which meshes seamlessly with a penchant for pulverising riffs. The joke often seems lost on listeners, however, much to Falco’s exasperation:
“I think humour is generally lost on people in music unless it’s of the Bloodhound Gang variety, the kind which screams, ‘I’m being funny now!’ In some cases it’s used to disregard [FOTL], I think, to make it sound as if it’s some kind of comedy band, which it definitely is not. I guess you’ve got to be quite serious about being funny to get it across properly. You’ll have heard popular comedy music, stuff like Tenacious D or whatever, where I’m assuming the prime reason is to make people laugh, as opposed to actually being this great rock band. If you want real hilarious comedy in your music you could always – no! I was gonna slag off a band! I’m not gonna do it!”
Songs like new effort Miner’s Gruel, or Singing of the Bonesaws (from 2013’s How to Stop your Brain in an Accident) even see Falco driving the point home by adopting exaggerated, caricature-esque voices, adding an extra layer to his already performative delivery. It’s almost like character acting.
“It’s never really planned,” he says after a few seconds’ thought. “I just reach a stage where I get sick of hearing the sound of my own voice. I know I need a break when everything I write, I play it back and think, ‘who’s this fucking idiot singing?’”
In keeping with Falco’s muse since his time in Mclusky, current musical trends get quite a kicking on The Peace and Truce. This time it’s the turn of ‘serious’ musicians striving for pop music’s singular most worthless fallacy: authenticity, as depicted on The Proper Music. Its author seems to have expanded his thoughts on the subject since writing the album, however.
“It’s a bit of a weird one – at this moment in time, I’m as bored by the opponents of ‘proper music’ as I am by the proponents. In their desire to write brilliant thinkpieces on pop, they have fundamentally misunderstood the main calling of pop music, which is certainly not to have fucking thinkpieces written about it. It’s to jump around like a twat!” 
(Continues below)

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"I have a problem," he continues, "in that I am completely contrarian. If you put me anywhere I’m going to end up disagreeing with everybody fundamentally. [Politically] I lie on the left, but I find a lot of people on the left incredibly fucking smug. There’s even some comedians or political thinkers where I agree with everything they say, but the condescending way they put it across makes me want to disagree with them.”
Again, he offers no specific names (“I’ve just had so many problems over the years”), but continues the thought with a different kind of example.
“I don’t believe you stop anybody being racist by leaning over and screaming ‘racist!’ at them for 20 minutes. I just don’t think that works. Do you honestly want to solve the problems in the world, or do you just want to scream ‘racist’?’ I’m not saying that’s not a valid way to spend your time, but don’t be surprised when nobody ever fucking changes their mind. It’s one of the things with the world: everybody thinks they’re right. Nobody’s deliberately being wrong. Apart from…  nope! I’m not gonna say it! It’s tough for me, I’ve punched myself in the balls four times during this interview.”

The politics of Future of the Left

Future of the Left are often pegged as being a political band, although in keeping with Falco’s own irritations, this is an observational tendency rather than a means of hectoring or addressing subjects head-on.
“I admire anybody who holds political viewpoints which are contrary to their own interests. For example, the selfishness of a lot of people on the right – ‘I have this money and I’d like to keep it,’ you know? Even though I don’t agree with that, I can understand it. Whereas it’s very easy to be on the left: to earn not much money and to want more for yourself and the people you know. It’s voting essentially with self-interest. So I’m very aware that, with the economic position that I’m in, by default I’m on the left, unless I’m a crazy person. But let’s face it: 98% of the people who come to our shows are gonna be… if not Labour supporters, then certainly not Conservative. That’s true the whole milieu of indie rock.
“I remember we [Mclusky] were on tour during the US elections in 2004, and saying a little joke about George W Bush on stage every night. After 22 shows, we finally had one dissenting voice in LA, in all that time. But it’s not that America is 98% behind us, it’s that indie rock clubs are 98% behind us. I mean, it’s unusual, isn’t it, when you see Conservative musicians? I read an interview with Phil Collins which made me feel a little bit sorry [laughs] about things I’ve said onstage about him over the years. I wasn’t even necessarily singling him out; Phil Collins is just a funny collection of words. I could probably think of a more deserving target like Andrew Lloyd Webber; somebody fiercely Tory.
"But yeah, talking about politics would feel patronizing, like engaging in an echo chamber. A three-minute pop song isn’t an incredibly discursive medium, I suppose. It tends to fall one way or the other, and emphatically. It’s very difficult to write songs saying, ‘I passionately believe in this, however there’s a caveat.’ It doesn’t make for a great rock song. ‘I believe political correctness is a good thing; however the movement can have its excesses.’ – that isn’t the way papers or concert tickets get sold. ‘This guy has a nuanced opinion on social justice, they rock!’”
The really dangerous figures like Trump and Johnson are already beyond parody.
“Well, this is it. How do you parody trump? Johnson’s bloody had a go at doing it himself; let’s face it, that man is far cleverer than he puts across. His bumbling fuckwittery is a tactic to disarm, whereas Trump is amoral. I feel anybody who has an ideology like it’s a religion, or dogma, who only accepts information that confirms what they already know, it’s a sad position to be in.
“If I had a choice between Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron, I don’t need to tell you which one I would save; it would be the real person rather than the android construct. But on Facebook the other week somebody said, ‘How dare Cameron insult the way Corbyn looks? The ham-faced twat.’ And you’re like, ‘Don’t you see the irony in what you’ve just said?’ Apparently people don’t, and they gravitate towards what they know and what they like.” He laughs bitterly. “Good on them, that’s what I say! Let’s have a big fucking war. Like a colonic cleanse of the planet. Let’s reduce the overcrowding issue; let’s take that one off the table by eliminating 50% of the population of the earth.”
The Skinny makes a thoroughly cheap gag about mandatory conscription for a certain type of listless, landfill indie band, which gets a more generous laugh than it deserves: “What would you call it though? And who would be the instructor at rock boot camp? The possibilities literally have an end. Let’s not think about that.”
Of course. After all, we’d be wandering dangerously close to singling out individuals if we went down that route. Falco laughs once more.
“Yeah, we don’t want to single out individuals! Unless it’s for praise.”
Is that a hint of sarcasm we detect? Surely not. With the peace and truce of God on his side, provided he keeps his levels of bastardry within reason, who could doubt the sincerity of a changed man?
Line Up :
Andy "Falco" Falkous
Jack Egglestone
Julia Ruzicka
Label :
Tracklist :
01 – If AT&T Drank Tea What Would BP Do
02 – In a Former Life
03 – Running All Over the Wicket
04 – Miner’s Gruel
05 – Grass Parade
06 – The Limits of Battleships
07 – Back When I Was Brilliant
08 – Eating for None
09 – Reference Point Zero
10 – White Privilege Blues
11 – 50 Days Before the Hun
12 – Proper Music
13 – No Son Will Ease Their Solitude

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