Franz Ferdinand Play The BLAG Word Game. Encyclopaedic Knowledge, Hysterics And Vertigo Ensue
Sarah J. Edwards invited Franz Ferdinand to the top floor of Centre Point in London for their cover shoot and interview. Back then, it was one of the tallest buildings in central London, so there was little time for vertigo and plenty of opportunity to soak up the extraordinary views. Sound tracked by Lil Wayne, Jay Z and James Brown, the band recount incredible stories and much hilarity ensued as we rolled out the BLAG Word Game.
Interview and Photography by Sarah J. Edwards
We’re frantically setting up at Paramount on the 31st floor of London’s Centre Point building and the light is rapidly fading. As Franz Ferdinand arrive the sun has set and London is re-lit by streets, shops and traffic. The views are incredible, so much so, the atmosphere minutes before changes as quickly as the lights – leaving everyone calm and mesmerized. Mostly because there really is no soundtrack to the busy-ness of the views, momentarily silencing our conversations. We then talk just a notch up from whispers, until we acclimatize to the environment – Quick explanation, the west end of London has very few older tall buildings, so the Centre Point experience is a rare treat for all of us.
Bass player Bob is a keen photographer and darts around the top three floors of the building capturing stills from above hectic London life. Alex discusses the latest Charlie Kaufman project Synecdoche, New York and the often over-keenness of some film goers at Q&A sessions with Sally. He recalls one particular event with John Waters in Glasgow. ‘The guy asked if he could give him a hug! And John told him it would be really inappropriate’ while cringing at the thought.
Paul checks out the music on offer and tells us of his love of James Brown at the moment. He also shows us the new gatefold album sleeve for Tonight, depicting their new HQ and points out where all the recordings took place. Due to timings, Nick makes a pit-stop in for the shoot before speeding off to see a classical concert at the Southbank, he tells us, ‘It’s not often I get a day off, so I thought I’d go and see a nice show.’ He’ll later write his answers via email.
To celebrate the release of ‘Tonight: Franz Ferdinand’ we wanted to not only give the band a cover, but hear some of the fascinating stories behind what made it such a brilliant record. The other really cool thing about the group as well as their music, is that they’re ‘interested’ people. They’re interested in life, they embrace it and between them have a vast encyclopedic range and knowledge of many, many compelling things.
Sarah: Alex, can you describe Paul’s ideal night out?
Alex: I think there’s probably two ideal nights out for Paul. There’s Family Paul and then there’s Paul on Tour, is that fair to say?
Paul: [Agrees] Mmm.
Alex: There’s definitely two sides to his personality, there’s the gentle, caring, family guy and then there’s the...
Paul: Be careful.
Alex: Yeah! The more extrovert character that has a couple of drinks and enjoys a dance... I’m thinking of one night in particular in San Francisco where Paul was DJing.
Paul: At Pop Scene.
Alex: Paul just picked up a stack of late ‘70’s... It wasn’t Canadian disco was it?
Paul: Yeah, a range of French Canadian disco.
Alex: We went to this club, we went with our friend Andy and his boyfriend, Hank and they had a few cocktails. In fact, yeah, I hadn’t seen Andy for years, he used to hangout with us in Glasgow. He was pouring cocktails, which were basically a tumbler full of vodka and with a little bit of coke on the top. Paul had a few of them and...
Bob: Grabbed the microphone and...
Alex: I’ve never really seen a DJ do that before, it was like the ultimate hype gig.
Sarah: Really?! Good work!
Alex: Yeah, all of a sudden, call and response, real old school style. Paaarrty!
Paul: I thought, I can’t be bothered with the technique tonight because, I’m really drunk and I can’t be bothered with the hot mixing and trying to show off. I’m just going to play records and make people enjoy themselves.
Alex: Well, they were good tunes, the needle didn’t always find the groove, but! [To Paul]I mean, do you think that’s an ideal night out for you?
Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Alex: What I love about those kinds of nights is they’re pretty unconsidered and really wild.
Sarah: So, Paul, can you tell us about a dream Bob has shared with you? I’m going with your night theme here by the way.
Alex: Yeah, brilliant.
Paul: You don’t generally tell me about dreams.
Bob: It’s because no one cares what you dreamt about, unless you dreamt about them.
Paul: I have this tendency to... if someone says, ‘Oh, I had this really weird dream last night...’[Slowly turns away and covers face]. ‘And you were...’ [Turns back around with interest, which results in mass laughter].
Sarah: It’s a shame he’s not here, but I wanted you, Bob to describe Nick’s best party outfit. Alex: Oh wow! Where do you start?!
Bob: One time, we hadn’t done a gig in New York for about a year, maybe a year and a half, or something. We were playing the Bowery Ballroom and he’d gone wondering in the afternoon and came back – he has a favourite shop he goes to all the time, somewhere in Alphabet City – and we were in the dressing room, about to go on, half an hour to go and Nick’s in the bathroom and he comes out in this seventies Safari suit that was primary colour red. Bright red.
Paul: Polyester... Stiff.
Bob: Polyester, yes, really stiff. And it’s boiling hot! The middle of summer, it’s June in New York City and we were playing at the Bowery, really, really hot. And he came out, ‘What do you think?’ and everyone just pissed themselves. And he was like, ‘It’s never been worn!’
[All in hysterics]
Bob: Yeah and our manager’s like...
The original story was first published in BLAG Vol. 3 Nø 1 print edition in 2009.
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