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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Great Scots, it's Franz Ferdinand!
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN Music Writer

It sounds cliché, but Franz Ferdinand is the nicest band on earth. Non-arrogant, down-to-earth, approachable, courteous and welcoming to fans of all sexual flavors, they've partied with drag queens, visited their share of Gay bars, and will soon play at a famous non-hetero lounge in London. The Glasgow four-piece is set to embark on a major worldwide tour in 2009 and are teetering the release of their next album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (January 27, Domino Records), featuring the leadoff single "Ulysses." Since bursting onto the scene in 2004, they've won the UK's prestigious Mercury Music Prize and several Brit Awards, earned multiple Grammy nominations, and graced the cover of every cool music magazine on both sides of the Atlantic.

Franz Ferdinand is barely setting up interviews to coincide with their forthcoming album, but granted this early bird special for Seattle Gay News as an exclusive year-end treat, so enjoy it with a favorite wintry beverage because it's truly one-of-a-kind. Lead singer-guitarist Alex Kapranos and drummer Paul Thomson sat down with me over beers and fish 'n' chips at PDXs Crystal Ballroom and had lots to talk about. Without further ado, I give you Franz Ferdinand!

Albert Rodriguez: Been to any Gay bars lately?

Alex Kapranos: Oh yeah. We're going to play Heaven in London, in January.

Paul Thomson: There's a great Gay club in London called Horse Meat Disco. They've recreated New York in the 1970s, they built downtown New York City in the middle of it.

Rodriguez: If I came to visit you boys in Glasgow, where would you take me?

Kapranos: Polo Lounge, maybe. But I'd say the best club is Optimo - it's neither a Gay nor straight club, it's a very mixed crowd, a great mix of music, fantastic DJs, very open, very cool.

Thomson: I have another one for you, Nice 'n' Sleazy! [Laughter.]

Rodriguez: Note to self: Nice 'n' Sleazy.

Kapranos: It's a great place, where if a band is in town we'd probably take them down there. Or, maybe Chinaski's. Mono is a cool place, and because you're such a music fan we'd probably take you there as well. Mono has the best record shop in Glasgow and has a bar.

Rodriguez: Do you guys get hit on a lot?

Kapranos: I remember at a bar in Boston, or on the East Coast, there was a guy and girl looking over at me, obviously talking about me. And then the girl came up and propositioned me, asking if I wanted to go to the bathroom with her. I said, "No, no. Thanks anyway", and she disappeared. And then her male friend came over and asked me the exact same thing! [Laughs.]

Rodriguez: Tag team action, huh? Could you ever see yourself living in America?

Kapranos: Yeah, sure. Especially now that Barack is in, it's a much more appealing place to be.

Rodriguez: Who wears the tightest pants in the band?

Thomson: Nick, probably. He's got quite meaty thighs and a big bum. [Kapranos laughs.]

Kapranos: Yeah, it probably is Nick. [I nod my head in approval.]

Rodriguez: What comes to mind when you hear "Seattle"?

Thomson: Good music town, good record shops and venues. I think of Easy Street Records, it's a great record shop.

Rodriguez: Do you get tipsy on long distance flights?

Kapranos: I used to get hammered because I couldn't believe they were giving me all these free drinks. I get very emotional on flights. You start watching a film like Forest Gump and then you're crying your eyes out. [Laughs.]

Thomson: I always feel a bit embarrassed asking for more drinks because I don't want them thinking I'm a lush. We chartered a flight back from Japan once, and that was the most decadent thing we ever did. We had some drinks and noticed the plane had a phone and we asked, "Is this included with the plane?" and they said, "Yeah, that's quite all right," so I called home and said, "We're flying over Siberia, mum!" [Laughter.]

Rodriguez: I love drinking on flights and having the most God-awful conversations with people.

Kapranos: I quite like that. That's the best: flights when you're next to somebody who can give you a bit of a chat.

Rodriguez: What were some of your favorite records of 2008?

Kapranos: I really liked the Emiliana Torrini album [Me and Armini]. I was listening to it this morning, actually. It's a very delicate, tender, emotional record.

Thomson: Those two Jay Reatard singles compilations that came out are really good [Matador Singles 08, Singles 06-07]. He knocks off these seven-inchers every month and then compiles them. Every song is like two minutes long, but it's short and sharp.

Kapranos: I really liked MGMT, they put out a ubiquitous album this year [Oracular Spectacular]. I saw them live and enjoyed it. They're just great pop songs.

Thomson: I liked the Sparx album as well, Exotic Creatures of the Deep. They still got it. They played all of their 21 albums on consecutive nights in London. They played about 220 songs with a band and everything. There's nobody alive that could ever do that.

Kapranos: I gather Fleet Foxes have gotta be in your top five, as well. That record is cool because it didn't sound like anything else around - good original songs. I enjoyed the Glasvegas record as well [self-titled]. It's sort of different from other Glasgow bands.

Rodriguez: How about tour plans for 2009?

Kapranos: A lot of touring next year. We did a lot of small touring in Scotland while writing this record, shows with about 50 or 60 people there and we were just trying to get these songs together and get them really tight. But it's been a while since we've been in North America and other places around the world. Rather than just doing one big tour and play big venues we'd rather do a smaller tour first, or smaller venues. It's more exciting for us.

Rodriguez: Seattle on your list?

Kapranos: Yes, definitely. End of March or April.

Rodriguez: Finally, where will you be on New Year's Eve?

Kapranos: [Looks over at Thomson.] We're going to be in Tasmania, aren't we?

Thomson: Somewhere in Victoria [Australia]. We're playing a show. We haven't played a show on New Year's Eve since we were supposed to play in Edinburgh, at a New Year's Eve celebration, but there was a gale storm and the stage got torn apart by the wind so they called the whole thing off and we just played in someone's living room instead.

Kapranos: Yeah, so this year I plan to be on a beach drinking Australian beer.

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