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Franz Ferdinand 2018

Interview: Bob Hardy of Franz Ferdinand

“I love walking around Hong Kong, there’s so much life going on around every corner”

Written by
Josiah Ng

More than 14 years on from their iconic self-titled debut, Scottish indie rockers Franz Ferdinand are still going strong. The band behind tracks like Take Me Out and Dark of the Matinee have stayed true to their roots throughout their career, as evidenced on this year’s Always Ascending, a record laden with the same dirty synth-pop and raw indie sensibilities as their first album.

Ahead of their show at Southorn Stadium next Friday, we speak to Bob Hardy, the group’s bassist, about the new album and what he’s looking forward to when the band return sto Hong Kong for the first time in five years.

So, right off the bat, we want to ask about Always Ascending. How did it come about artistically, and how was it put together?
Alex, Paul and myself began writing at the very end of 2015. We gave ourselves a lot of time to play around with Alex’s synth collection that he’s been amassing over several years. We decided that we wanted to make a record that focused on the idea we’d always had of Franz Ferdinand being a live band that played dance music. We wanted to push this idea further than we had before.

Where did you draw inspiration from while making the new album?
As a group of people we listen to a lot of very different music and it’s difficult to name specific records or artists that directly influence what we’re working on at any one time. It’s often the case that when we’re in the studio writing and recording, we actually listen to less outside music then we would when we’re touring. Sometimes it’s nice just to focus on what we’re making.

This time, you decided not to focus on deliberately making any singles. Is that a familiar approach for you guys?
When we first started as a band it was definitely our approach. We wanted our records to sound like solid bodies of work with no ‘filler’, for every song to have as much impact no matter if it was a single, an album track or a B-side. We didn’t actually state this idea out loud, though, until [producer] Philippe Zdar joined us in the pre-production stages [for Always Ascending] and made the claim that he ‘pisses on singles’ and that every track needs to receive the same amount of love and attention or the others ‘would get jealous’. It was an approach we were eager to pursue and the songs we were going to release as singles were undecided until the very last moment.

Do you have a favourite track from the new album?
My favourite is Lazy Boy. It has an unusual time signature – 5/4, I think, rather than the standard 4/4 – which really makes it stand out for me.

Are there any artists you guys have listened to for a long time that just keep on giving?
I always get a kick out of The Magnetic Fields and pretty much any of Stephin Merritt’s other projects. It’s his rich lyrical seams that I find the most satisfying. There’s so much going on there that every time I come back to his songs I find something else new.

For this album, the line-up has changed for the first time in the band’s history. In what ways has the music-making process and the sound changed after Julian Corrie and Dino Bardot joined the group?
Julian joined halfway through the writing process and we immediately clicked. He’s an incredible musician and comes from an electronic music background – with a deep love of techno – so he fitted in real easy into what we’d already been writing. We also have huge amounts in common with him in most other areas of popular culture, so he understood any references immediately, which was useful as 80 percent of our chat is comprised of references to various film and TV shows.

We’ve known Dino for nearly 20 years and so when he joined to play guitar live he also fitted in immediately. He’s an incredible guitarist and can do proper guitar solos and everything.

Is there anything missing after Nick McCarthy left?
No, we checked his pockets before he left and made sure he hadn’t pinched anything.

And of course, this is the first time in five years that Franz Ferdinand has taken to the stage in Hong Kong. What are you guys looking forward to when you return here?
I love walking around Hong Kong, there’s so much life going on around every corner. I’m looking forward to getting out and having a wander around with my camera, seeing what catches my eye.

Lastly, do you guys have anything you’d like to say to the fans who will be there next week?
Hi everybody! We’re so excited to come back to Hong Kong! Thanks for making us feel so welcome in the past and we hope you enjoy the show this time too.

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