The band first experienced chart success when their second single "Take Me Out" reached #3 in the UK Charts, followed by their debut album Franz Ferdinand which debuted on the UK album chart at #3. The band went on to win the 2004 Mercury Music Prize and two BRIT Awards in 2005 for Best British Group and Best British Rock Act. NME named Franz Ferdinand as their Album of the Year. From the album, three top-ten singles were released, "Take Me Out", "The Dark of the Matinée" and "This Fire".
In May 2003, the band signed to Laurence Bell's independent record label, Domino Records. The band had recorded an EP which they intended to release themselves; however, it was instead released by Domino as Darts of Pleasure in the latter part of 2003. The cover art was designed by Thomson. It reached #43 in the UK chart.. The band won the "Phillip Hall Radar Award" at the NME Awards of 2004, announced in late 2003.
The band moved to Gula Studios in Malmö, Sweden with Cardigans producer Tore Johansson to record their debut album. In January 2004 the single "Take Me Out" reached #3 in the UK charts. The album, Franz Ferdinand, was released in early 2004, debuting at #3 in the UK Albums Chart in February 2004 and at #12 in the Australian album charts in April 2004. The album only reached the lowest levels of the Billboard 200 album charts in the US as of early 2004, but reached the top 5 of the indie rock chart and the Heatseeker chart for debut artists. After a couple of North American tours and heavy rotation of the "Take Me Out" video on MTV, the album eventually reached #32 on the Billboard 200 later in 2004 and sold over a million copies in the United States. Franz Ferdinand received a generally strong positive response from critics. NME rated with 9 out of 10 and said that hed n ot been the band was the latest in the line of art school rock bands featuring Duran Duran, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Roxy Music, the Sex Pistols, Wire, Travis and Blur.
On September 7, 2004 the album was awarded the 2004 Mercury Music Prize. Take Me Out gained first place in the Australian Triple J Hottest 100 for 2004, winning more than twice the votes of the second-place entry. Franz Ferdinand proceeded to win an Ivor Novello Award in 2004 and two BRIT Awards in 2005. The avant-garde music video for Take Me Out earned them a Breakthrough Video MTV Award. The NME named Franz Ferdinand the best album of 2004, and also placed it 38th on their 100 Best Albums of All Time list. The band performed at the Grammy Awards of 2005 where they performed "Take Me Out" as a live medley with Los Lonely Boys, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas and Gwen Stefani. "Take Me Out" was also featured on the video game NHL 05
In an interview with British newspaper The Independent the band stated that the upcoming third Franz Ferdinand album would have plenty of African influences. This was revealed at a recent African Express show, an event set up by Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame. This was revealed after the band played a new song, which is unofficially titled "Can't You Let Me Stay Tonight". When it was played at the event, the song featured Malian ngoni player Bassekou Kouyaté, Senegalese percussionists, and British rapper Kano. While this has not yet been confirmed if the stated musicians will appear in an official recorded version, the band have reportedly finished recording the album, and Alex Kapranos has subesequently also stated that "The last record was...like a teenager having sex. This one's a bit more assured and a bit friendlier for the dance floor.
On October 7th, 2008, reporter Michael Hogan from Vanity Fair interviewed Alex and Paul, who confirmed the title of their third album to be, simply, Tonight. The band also confirmed the Tonight title at a 'secret' Brooklyn show on October 8th, 2008. Six new songs were played during Franz Ferdinand's Music Hall of Williamsburg set, including "Ride Together", "Turn It On", "Send Him Away", "Katherine Kiss Me", "Ulysses", and "What She Came For".
As far as collaborations go, Kapranos has announced that on the 22/04/08 he will begin collaborating with an unknown Canadian artist, as well as implying that the band was working with Xenomania on the new album, as Alex is a fan of their work with Girls Aloud. The band also performed, played, and recorded with Jane Birkin, covering the Serge Gainsbourg song "Sorry Angel" for the 2005 album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited. In addition, Franz re-recorded the track "Brown Onions" for David Shringley's compilation album Worried Noodles.The band kept instrumentation identical but used lyrics written by Shringley which include the consistent repetition of the word "No" and occasionally "No brains, no teeth, no legs, no eyes...". Hot Chip a band who, it is reported are a favourite of Franz Ferdinand also performed their own version of "No" on the same album.
The name of the band was originally inspired by a racehorse called The Archduke. After seeing the horse run on television the band began to discuss Archduke Franz Ferdinand and thought it would be a good band name because of the sound of the name and the implications of the Archduke's death (his assassination was a significant factor in the lead up to World War I). They discussed it in a very early interview with the Scottish magazine Is This Music?
"Mainly we just liked the way it sounded," says Bob. "We liked the alliteration." "He was an incredible figure as well," continues Alex. "His life, or at least the ending of it, was the catalyst for the complete transformation of the world ... he was a pivot for history. But I don't want to over-intellectualise the name thing. Basically a name should just sound good ... like music." Paul has a much grander notion. "I like the idea that, if we become popular, maybe the words Franz Ferdinand will make people think of the band instead of the historical figure."
The song "Take Me Out", on the band's first album, was the second single to be released by the band. The single release of "Take Me Out" came with the B-side, "All for You Sophia", based on the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, whose name was Sophie, not Sophia. The band changed the name Sophie to Sophia to give the song a better ring to it.
The avant-garde music video for "Take Me Out", directed by Jonas Odell, was inspired by Dadaism, Busby Berkeley choreographies and Russian constructivist design. Alex Kapranos explained the many and varied influences behind the '30s-style promo for second single 'Take Me Out:' "It's kind of two dimensional in a three dimensional style if that makes any sense. It's a montage of images; ourselves, pictures and things taken from other places and put together in a strange, abstract way. That's what gives the video that strange, jerky, style". The video for "This Fire" is similar to "Take Me Out" in style.
The lyrics of "Do You Want To" make reference to parties at the 'trendy' Glasgow art gallery Transmission and the video includes a variety of the work of contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft, along with a reference to Pink Floyd in the mix. In each one of the music videos of Franz Ferdinands, the music sounds slightly different to the regular song.
An A-Z of Franz Ferdinand was published in late 2007. The book is a complete encyclopedia of the band compiled by Helen Chase with input from both Franz Ferdinanad and many of their fans. The book contains exclusive interviews with the band as well as exclusive photographs. The book is intended to be a celebration of the bands' first five years and has quickly became a fans' favourite. The book is being published in a German language version in 2009 (Edel).
Eating With Alex Kapranos by Alex Kapranos
In September 2005, Alex Kapranos began writing about what he ate while touring the world with the rock band Franz Ferdinand. The writing is as much about where he eats and the people he eats with as the unusual flavours he tastes on the road. Whether it's munching donuts with cops in Brooklyn, swallowing bull's balls with the band in Buenos Aires or queuing for a saveloy in South Shields, these are surprising and vivid snapshots of life on the road. Funny, poignant, sickening or sexual depending on the situation, the material, both new and previously published in the Guardian, is fascinating and entertaining.
|2004||Mercury Prize||Mercury Prize|
|NME Awards||Philip Hall Radar Award|
|Q Awards||Best Video (Take Me Out)|
|2005||BRIT Awards||Best Group|
|BRIT Awards||Best British Rock Act|
|NME Awards||Best Track (Take Me Out)|
|NME Awards||Best Album (Franz Ferdinand)|
|2006||NME Awards||Best Live Band|