Male Friendship: Interview with FFS
Fans of unusual pop music, art rock provocateurs Sparks and Franz Ferdinand first met ten years ago. The promise to work together led to the recording of a full-length album called “FFS”, and, as Chris Cottingham from NME found out, it gave a lot of new strength to both groups.
Just think, because nothing would have happened if Alex Kapranos had not broken his tooth. In 2013, the 43-year-old frontman Franz Ferdinand was on tour in Uruguay with the group when he was unsuccessful and Kapranos did not dare to entrust himself to the local health care system. The next stop was San Francisco, where manager Franz Ferdinand had an appointment with dentist Huey Lewis. Yes, Huey Lewis from the 1980s pop rockers Huey Lewis And The News. It looked like his toothbrush was the best.
“So I’m walking around San Francisco, looking for a Huey dentist,” Alex explains. “I hear someone calling me:” Alex, are you? “, I turn, and this is Ron and Russell.”
Ron and Russell Maels, better known as Sparks. Brothers from the city of angels who lifted the bar of art rock, releasing Kimono My House in 1974. They did a glorious job, presenting 19 albums in a 44-year career. That evening, Sparks played a concert, where they invited Alex, along with the rest of the Franz Ferdinand members. Toward the end of the evening, the guys agreed to work together, suddenly we get a few songs, who knows.
Two years later, they record a joint album, like FFS. It is less than a duet, but more than the formation of a new group. Six people, four of whom are the full complement of Franz Ferdinand and the two Mael brothers. The result is similar to both groups, but not without individual traits of each. The choppy, rhythmic guitars and grooves on “Police Encounters” are very close to FF, but the chorus of “Bam bam diddy diddy” and the spinning keyboards are pure Sparks. They complement each other, one party will not be successful without the other. Swinging, tightly woven voices on the final Piss Off track show a different vision of art rock from both groups. Meanwhile, “Collaborations Don’t Work” (a typical mocking song title for Sparks) is a pop operetta with a simple strumming guitar, which over time turns into a sweeping orchestral pop. “I don’t need your navel gazing / I don’t get your way of phrasing / I don’t think you’re really trying / What pray tell are you implying.” Well, no, this is not an ordinary duet at all.
Now, Russell, Ron and Alex are sitting and drinking tea at a hotel in London.
“I’m sorry it turned out to be so fashionable,” Ron says calmly. A man who is not particularly worried about someone else’s opinion that for the past 40 years he wore a mustache in the style of Hitler. Russell is a big joker. “Tell us about the Uruguayan girls,” he turns to Alex, and whispers, “Here’s how he broke his tooth!” “I wish it was a rock and roll result like the girls,” Alex Russell corrects.
Both groups have known each other for more than a decade. When the Maela brothers heard Franz Ferdinand’s second single, “Take Me Out,” they offered to meet. The result was a meeting in a coffee shop in West Hollywood.
“We were very excited,” Alex recalls. “Sparks had a huge impact on us. At the very first rehearsal, we even tried to play a couple of covers, one of which was Achoo from the Propaganda album. It was awful. People say it’s not worth meeting your heroes, but I think it’s nonsense.” .
They talked about the recording at that first meeting, when Sparks wrote “Piss Off”, but Franz Ferdinand was about to release their debut album, so at that moment everything went to hell and it wasn’t possible to realize what was intended.
The meeting in San Francisco nine years later came at the time when Kapranos and the team released the fourth LP “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action”, but this time Alex could not miss such a chance again.
“I remember how we all sat and agreed that no matter how busy we are now, we must let this happen.”
Sparks took the first steps in a signature, inviting manner, sending colleagues the song “Collaborations Don’t Work”.
“It was kind of a joke, just checking to see if we are on the same level,” Alex says, just in case looking at Ron and Russell. “When Nick (Nick McCarthy, guitarist Franz Ferdinand – ed.) And I first heard the song, they thought it was very funny,” he continued. “They responded with a doubly bold line,” We ain’t no collaborators, I am a partisan, “equating groups playing together with the Nazis during World War II. When we sent the song, they said,” Or they’ll find it fun or never they won’t talk to us. “” I think the song emphasizes the fact that both groups find such collaboration quite outdated. None of us wanted something strange to happen. ”
Since then, they have secretly worked for 18 months, periodically sending songs to each other.