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Franz Ferdinand (band)

Franz Ferdinand is a rock band that formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 2001. Named after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the band comprises Alex Kapranos (lead vocals and guitar), Bob Hardy (bass guitar), Nick McCarthy (rhythm guitar, keyboards and backing vocals), and Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals).

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".

History

Formation

The members of Franz Ferdinand played in various bands during the 1990s including The Karelia, Yummy Fur, 10p Invaders and Embryo. Alex Kapranos and Paul Thomson played together in Yummy Fur and subsequently teamed up to write songs. Around the same time, Kapranos taught his friend Bob Hardy how to play bass. Kapranos met co-guitarist Nick McCarthy, who had returned to Scotland after studying jazz bass in Germany, in 2001.

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.

Debut album and mainstream success

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

You Could Have It So Much Better

The band spent much of 2005 in the studio in Scotland working on their follow-up album, You Could Have It So Much Better, which was released on 3 October 2005. The band initially intended to leave the album self-titled like their debut, but they changed it to You Could Have It So Much Better...With Franz Ferdinand before settling on the final title. The album's cover design was modelled on Alexander Rodchenko's 1924 portrait of Lilya Brik. The band attempted to broaden its musical range on the album; Hardy said, "There's more to life than disco-beat guitar music". After the critical acclaim of their debut, some reviews towards the new album became more polarised, with some complaints that the recording was rushed. However, it was generally well-received in the press and seen as an album equal to, or better than their first by most critics, including the NME. It entered the UK Album Charts at Number 1 and the US charts at Number 8. On the tour that followed the album release, Franz broke the record for the longest run at the Alexandra Palace, North London, by playing 4 sold out nights during November-December 2005. To support the album, four singles were released. Included in that set is a double A-side single that contained a video-clip only single as well (both the AA-side "L. Wells" and the video-clip "Jeremy Fraser" are not featured on the album, recorded in early 2006 during the band's tour of Australia in support of the album). Also included is another video-clip-only single called "Wine In the Afternoon" which is the B-side to Eleanor Put Your Boots On, and was also not featured on the album, but recorded on tour in Michigan. "Do You Want To" made it to number 4, while "Walk Away" and "The Fallen" / "L. Wells" entered the top 15 of the UK Singles Chart. The 4th and final single from the second album, "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" peaked at number 30.

Tonight

Since late 2007, the band have been recording their third studio album in Glasgow, and it is expected to be released in January 2009.

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.

A new song entitled "Lucid Dreams" was included in the Madden NFL 09 video game. The song was released on August 19, 2008 through iTunes.

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".

Collaborations and covers

Franz Ferdinand covered the LCD Soundsystem song "All My Friends" which appeared as a B-side on the single, and is also working on an album of Sparks covers, collaborating with the group on the recordings. They have also covered "Sexy Boy" by Air and "It Won't Be Long" by The Beatles, Pulp's popular single "Mis-Shapes", Gwen Stefani's top 5 hit "What You Waiting For?" and David Bowie's song "Sound and Vision", featuring Girls Aloud on backing vocals, for a compilation disc marking the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio One along with other leading artists. Additionally, Franz Ferdinand recorded a cover of The Fire Engines' song "Get Up and Use Me". In return, the Fire Engines recorded a cover of "Jacqueline". The band has had remixes by major electronic artists Daft Punk, Hot Chip, Justice, and Erol Alkan.

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 band 'met' Gorillaz in December 2005, and interviewed each other for a feature in Observer Music Monthly.

Name

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.

Art

The band is notable for its use of Russian avant-garde imagery in album and single covers. Examples include: "You Could Have It So Much Better", which references a 1924 portrait of Lilya Brik by Alexander Rodchenko; "Take Me Out", which references One-Sixth Part of the World, also by Alexander Rodchenko; "This Fire" which references Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge by El Lissitzky; and "Michael", with single art based on A Proun by Lissitzky. The song "Love and Destroy" was inspired by the scene of disorder made by Margarita, a character of Michael Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita", in the apartment of the literature critic Latunzky.

Also, in "Outsiders", the lyrics "In seventeen years will you still be Camille, Lee Miller, Gala or whatever" are a reference to the lovers of the artists Auguste Rodin, Man Ray and Salvador Dalí.

Videos

Many of the videos to promote the band's singles take inspiration from Russian avant-garde much like their LP & CD sleeves.

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.

Other Media

An A-Z of Franz Ferdinand by Helen Chase

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.

Discography

Studio albums

Awards

Year Award Category
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

Music samples

Notes

References

External links

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