In the past six months, Franz Ferdinand have toured the U.K., Europe, Australia, Japan and North America (twice). But they haven't just been racking up frequent-flier miles. In between gigs and in studios around the world, they've been writing and arranging a handful of new songs.
"You can write a song anywhere," said Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos. "We sit on the back of the tour bus, sit in hotel rooms or backstage at venues, with an acoustic guitar, strumming some chords. And then we've got the basics for a song. I saw this interview with Sting, and he was talking about how he had to be in a certain tower in his mansion, surrounded by candles, to be able to write a song. And I thought, 'Oh my God, how distanced from reality have you become? You can do it anywhere!' "
The band premiered two new tunes, "Your Diary" and "This Boy," at the U.K.'s Reading Festival on August 28. And titles of other songs include "Can't Stop Feeling," "Well, That Was Easy" and "Doing Fine." But Kapranos cautions that these titles are temporary.
"Titles always come at the end. 'Well, That Was Easy' is called that [for now] because those are the first lines of the song," he said. "And [guitarist] Nick [McCarthy] came up with the name for 'Doing Fine,' which the rest of us are going to absolutely insist he change, because I think it's maybe the worst title for a song I've ever heard."
Title issues aside, the band has been working the kinks out of its new songs and has also committed a few of them to tape. After playing a music festival in Spain, they logged studio time with hip-hop producer Dan "the Automator" Nakamura, a collaboration that took root when Kapranos recorded vocals for a song ("The World's Gone Mad") on Automator's new Handsome Boy Modeling School album in June.
"We recorded a version of 'Can't Stop Feeling' with Dan. We were interested in seeing what his take would be," Kapranos said. "And he's been a big influence on us, because he's got no respect for genre. He doesn't give a damn whether something is dance music or rock music or hip-hop. If it's good, it's good, and he'll use it."
And while doing a soundcheck for a recent appearance on Britain's "Top of the Pops," Kapranos and his bandmates stumbled upon another song, this one dedicated to their beloved Scottish soccer team.
"It's a ludicrously catchy tune. I'm fascinated by sports songs in general, songs a stadium crowd will sing. Like Gary Glitter's 'Rock and Roll, Pt. 2,' it's so primal and so moronic," Kapranos said. "Our song is three notes and one word. It's the Scottish World Cup theme, so you can probably guess what the one word is: Scotland."
In addition to celebrating Tuesday's Mercury Music Prize win for the U.K.'s best album, Franz Ferdinand are keeping busy with their never-ending world tour, which has them on the road for the remainder of the year. They hope to start work on their next album sometime in early 2005, and Kapranos said he'd like Automator to work on some of the album, but there's a strong possibility that the bandmembers themselves will act as producers.
"With our last album, we spent a good half of the time trying to talk our producer out of his ideas and into ours," Kapranos said. "In the studio, we like things done our way. I would imagine we're really a pain in the ass to work with."