Franz Ferdinand: 'There are so many places you can celebrate New Year in the world but nowhere beats Edinburgh'
- Henry Northmore
- 8 November 2018
Alex Kapranos gets ready to headline the Concert in the Garden's as part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations
Not everything goes to plan. 'We were supposed to do it about 15 years ago, we were supposed to be the first act on before the Coral and then Erasure,' explains Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos, 'but there was a massive storm and the whole thing got cancelled. We ended up seeing the bells in playing a gig in somebody's flat somewhere in Marchmont instead, which was great fun, but I'm very happy to be coming back and playing the party itself.'
Not only are Franz back for 2018's Hogmanay celebrations but this time they are headlining the Concert in the Gardens. 'There are so many places you can celebrate New Year in the world but nowhere beats Edinburgh,' says Kapranos. 'People always say the way you spend your New Year is an indicator of how you'll spend the rest of the year. And for me, I'll be with my band, with my friends and family all about me, back in Scotland, so it feels really good.'
2018 also finds the band revitalised. Even the title of recent album Always Ascending felt like a statement of intent. Lead single and title track 'Always Ascending' is built around a marvellously confusing sonic illusion that feels like it's constantly building to an elusive climax. Produced by Philippe Zdar, one half of French house duo Cassius (who has also worked with the Rapture, Two Door Cinema Club and Phoenix), the album is a propulsive, slice of indie rock and post-punk, happily embracing disco and pop to its heart.
It's also the first to feature guitarist Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie (keyboards / synths) after Nick McCarthy's departure in 2016. 'Bands have a personality which is a product of the personalities within them, so fresh blood and a fresh perspective is invigorating and inspiring.'
The change in personnel breathed new life into the band. '[Making the record] definitely felt like a new era. The last Franz record – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action  – felt like a bookend. Then we had this cleanser in-between, FFS, which was so different to anything we'd done before which was very refreshing in its own way and really felt like a divide between the old band and the new band.'
FFS was Franz Ferdinand's gloriously named collaboration with offbeat US pop act Sparks (aka brothers Ron and Russell Mael). A partnership you couldn't have imagined in your wildest dreams but when you sit down and think about Franz Ferdinand working with Sparks it makes some kind of weird sense. Both embrace sharp intelligent pop, arch lyrics and meticulously constructed songs and melody. 'We actually announced it on April Fool's day so a lot of people thought we were taking he piss especially with the name,' laughs Kapranos. 'It's nice to surprise people and it's what keeps it exciting for yourself, not to be always predictable and always meet people's expectations.'
For the Concert in the Gardens, Franz are joined by two bands that also perfectly fit their sound and style. 'We've played with Metronomy a few times before, I've known those guys since I saw them in King Tut's years ago when they were first starting out. Free Love [formerly Happy Meals] are playing the slot we were supposed to play 15 years ago so it bodes well for them. I couldn't want for a better line-up.'
Franz Ferdinand plan to rise to the occasion, playing such a big gig on a midwinter night. 'We're planning a really upbeat set, it's going to be a set of bangers basically,' says Kapranos. 'There's not going to be any deep dark contemplative navel-gazing, it's about having a party and having a good laugh, keeping the energy levels high so no one can stay still long enough to get cold.'
Franz Ferdinand play the Concert in the Gardens, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Mon 31 Dec.