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Future of the Left, 'The Plot Against Common Sense': Singer Andy Falkous Talks 2.4 Percent Life Change, New Album
- Posted on Jun 13th 2012 4:00PM by Rob Rubsam
Future of the Left have a new album, The Plot Against Common Sense (out June 12 on Xtra Mile), their first collection of new music after the release of the Polymers Are Forever EP last fall. Since 2009's excellent Travels With Myself and Another, bassist Julia Ruzicka and guitarist Jimmy Watkins have joined the group, helping to make The Plot the band's most aggressive and ferocious yet, even while the record displays a deep sense of catchiness and beauty. Falco took some time to talk to Spinner over email about the new record, rioters in designer clothing and the exact percentage he's changed in the last three years.
What was the writing and recording process like for The Plot Against Common Sense?
Writing -- same as it ever was. Do it at every opportunity and chuck ideas away if they fail to satisfy (us) fully. Write tens and hundreds of songs and throw everything at it. Remember to enjoy the process as much as the end result.
Recording -- a little more protracted. Since we were working in what was effectively studio downtime it all happened when it was allowed to but rather than disrupt our flow it just made us more determined to do something great. Loz, the engineer, did a great job. A very calm man.
Was there anything you tried to do with the music this time around that you hadn't tried out on previous albums?
Not deliberately. I always try to write a pop record because I like melodies. Riffs, rhythms and strangulated couplets are all very well, but if they don't sit in the middle of an actual song I'm not remotely interested in them.
Did the addition of Jimmy and Julia to the lineup change how you approached this record, as compared to before?
They've brought ability, enthusiasm and, of course, that music thing. Their contribution is consistently played down which I know they find pretty galling on occasion but they're big enough to ride through it -- I'm not sure I would be. Jimmy was a looser, more inventive player but we've thoroughly integrated him with our Puritan work ethic and Julia is as tight and methodical a bass-player as we'd ever need -- a true professional. It really is as constructive an environment as I've known.
Lyrically, how do you choose the themes of each song? Do you think it out, do you rely on inspiration, or is it a mix of both?
This record has more contemporary concerns but that wasn't part of any plan or policy. There are often issues that I'd like to write about or address but crow-barring them into songs is rarely a success. With a couple of notable exceptions there are sounds and the words appear as if from nowhere and just seem to fit -- there's a little revision and care taken before recording, of course, but not as much as you'd imagine.
Given it's almost three years later, do you think you're in a different place musically and intellectually than you were around the time of Travels With Myself and Another?
I've moved house (twice). Got engaged (er, once). Read a lot of historical biographies (that Caesar, what a card). Ran and sang to myself as I was running, probably looking like the maddest bastard on the road. Listened to Wire on walks to work, got a thrill from the Misfits whilst running through excel spreadsheets and, as ever, over-exposed myself to the news -- I try not to read newspapers too often because I lose whole days.
This is my long-winded way of saying "I have no idea," really, because there's no plan besides simply doing it. Three years older and probably 2.4 per cent different.
Why did you choose to release Polymers Are Forever last fall, and then put the title track on The Plot Against Common Sense?
We were aiming to get The Plot ... out before Christmas but when it became clear that wasn't going to happen, for reasons that I won't bore you with, decided to release Polymers along with several songs that didn't make the album. The song itself split people, I suppose, which was simultaneously exciting and annoying. Really it would have been impossible to chose one song from the album which was truly representative.
Was "Sorry Dad, I Was Late for the Riots" inspired by any particular event?
The May Day Riots in London last year (2011). Protesting capitalism by smashing up shop fronts whilst clad in expensive designer clothes is as futile a gesture as I can imagine. As horrifically flawed and exploitative a system as capitalism is, rank intimidation and acts of violence perpetrated by pricks in masks cannot be the answer.
Where did the title "City of Exploded Children" come from?
The riots which followed the killing of a man in Tottenham later last summer. HEY! A DOUBLE RIOT RECORD! Different motivations, but just as depressing. Sitting, watching scores of fires light up the nation's capital was quite the slap. Cardiff, where I live, had an apologetic gathering of 15 disinterested kids in the city center. They hung around for a bit, snarling, and then got the bus home.
Who came up with the concept for the "Sheena is a T-Shirt Salesman" video?
The guys who recorded it, who call themselves Outlandish Pictures (based in London). We wanted something to accentuate the frantic nature of the song and they nailed it, for next to no money (our favorite budget). The all-in-one-take format is interesting when it works but otherwise a pain in the arse. The song was slowed down by a factor of four (so nine minutes long) and we did about five takes -- the last one worked as perfectly as we'd like although as you can see my miming isn't up to much.
Finally, was there any particular reason you shot back at the Pitchfork review of Plot Against? It really was fun to read, and the review was certainly asking for a good take-down.
It was fun to write as well, so thanks. Pitchfork is incredibly (and unfortunately) influential but I didn't want to make it about the site as much as the author and review itself. Why did I write it?
Compulsion. It's written into my DNA that I will bite and scrap to the f---ing death, even if the fight is really boring.