Interview: Future Of The Left
There’s a lot of hyperbole in music journalism. If you believed everything you read, then the answer to every problem would be the new Radiohead album or anything that involves the words Kendrick and Lamar. No more worrying about war or depression. No annoyance at leaving your lunch at home after you made an effort to prepare it the night before because you’re conscious you’re spending too much money on lunch these days. A few minutes with Spotify and all will be well again.
It’s because of this glibness that makes it hard to quantify just how much I respect Andrew Falkous as a musician. He is an all-time hero of mine and the author of many of my favourite songs of all time. If I was pushed to choose a ‘favourite band’, it’d be Future Of The Left.
Though Future Of The Left may be his most prolific outfit, there isn’t a musical project Falkous has been involved in that hasn’t been mint. Many know him as the frontman of cult heroes mclusky while a select few have had the pleasure of exploring his solo endeavours as Christian Fitness. He is a cult icon, an individual who has created a loyal fanbase who hang on to every release he’s associated with.
So what is it that makes him so good? Falkous is a man who tolerates zero bullshit, a personality trait which is reflected in his music. This is a man of zero pretence, a trait not often associated with rock music’s pompous declarations of excess. His music is simultaneously minimal and maximal. There isn’t a note too much, a sound out of place or an impromptu gospel choir singing the chorus while Jared Leto prats around in a poncho. Every note has a job to do and it does it well.
Future Of The Left channel this through a visceral, aural assault of distorted guitars, snarled vocals and pounding rhythms. The songs are so good, they would be amazing purely on instrumental value alone, but there’s more, oh so much more to Falkous.
I haven’t immediately turned off a Smashing Pumpkins song when someone put it on at a party.
Live, the band come into their own—I should know, I’ve seen them thirteen times. Seeing Future Of The Left live is a therapeutic experience. A collective cathartic experience of devastatingly loud and intense songs that sound even bigger live than they do on recording. It’s a wonder Falkous has a voice at the end of each set, with such intensity in his vocal delivery. By the end it’s descended into a chaotic shambles of dismantled instruments and wandering band-members. It has to be seen to be believed.
Though, for most, it’s for his lyrics that are the biggest appeal. Covering subjects and themes that avoid the lazy cliches that populate the majority of rock music. It’s a combination of cutting satire, absurd imagery and extreme bitterness. Lines like, “All of your friends are cunts, your mother is a ballpoint pen thief. Notoriety follows you like beatings follow rain,” or, “Going bald was the new Nirvana. Staying out late was the new Nirvana. Dressing your child as a prostitute was the quickest route to fame.”
He’s a man with a lot to say and whose wit makes you wonder if a slight change in circumstances might have resulted in him becoming a successful stand-up comedian. In other words, he’s the sort of person who when you get a chance to interview them, you jump at it. So without further ado, here is my conversation with Andrew Falkous.
So you’re moving to The Netherlands really early January, yeah?
Yeah, that’s right, my family complain that I’m on the opposite side of the planet…
Now you’re just in Holland!
Exactly, close but not too close, and not in the land of Brexit which feels like a good thing at the moment.
Oh mate, the thing is, it’s being treated in some quarters as if it’s a natural disaster. [newscaster’s voice] “Well you know there was an earthquake so we just have to recover the bodies, rebuild and start again.” It’s not a natural disaster. It is possible to stop this, you racist cunts (to use the jargon).
Haha, ah yes the technical term.
Not for everybody that voted for Brexit, just 99% of them. Nothing is funnier to me than the idea of a socialist Brexit though. A Lexit. That’s not just wishful thinking, it’s twatful thinking.
So there’s actually a concept of Lexit? I don’t quite understand how that would even be used in jest.
Well, there you go, but let’s face it, we’re beyond parody in a political sense. Not just in Britain, it’s part of a prevailing trend of obnoxious fucking twattery that has engulfed the world. For better or worse, whether they’re racists or not, (and I would suggest that most of them are) there’s a lot of fearful people out there who think that universal sabotage is the way to go. At the end of the day we all have to live on the same planet.
Yeah, it’s that kind of Morrissey mentality of just rebelling against something. It doesn’t matter what it is, but always be rebelling against it.
Yeah, contrarianism for its own sake in effect. There’s a song, I think it’s probably going to be more of a Christian Fitness song than a Future Of The Left song, it’s difficult to know, but there is going to be a song on one of the new records called Pro Morrissey.
Pro Morrissey! Too good. Do you decide on the titles of the songs before writing the songs? Quite often the song title doesn’t crop up in the lyrics. Do you sometimes go, “That title’s too good to waste,” then write the song later?
Well, yes, that’s happened a couple of times. For example ‘You Need Satan More Than He Needs You’ was a song title I had based on an idea for a song. I knew that the song wouldn’t be guitar based because if it’s a song with satan in it and you’re slapping away at a guitar, you’ve instantly increased your virginity fucking factor by a factor of eight million, haven’t you. I knew it had to be a keyboard song to fight that impulse. We wrote eight songs with that name. It was a t-shirt before it was an actual song.
Eighth time lucky as they say. So, you’re a dad now, congratulations!
Thank you very much.
One thing I’ve been told, because I don’t have any children of my own, is that as soon as you’re a dad, your whole world view changes and that everything’s different and you’d only understand if you were a dad. Is that true?
Not if you’re a relatively compassionate human being. I suppose part of the thinking behind that is the cliche, “Well as the father of a daughter, I think sexual assault is wrong.” I thought sexual assault was wrong before I had a daughter. You probably would feel even more extreme about it, but it’s ludicrous to suggest that. I would say if it takes being a father to change your world view, then maybe your world view needed changing and it was time for some kind of catalyst to come along. I think maybe it’s a reflection of the person speaking rather than of the process of fatherhood.
In theory, fatherhood should be bestowed on the slightly mature as opposed to people who need a new gadget in order to move on to level eight of life.
“I’ve just got the baby upgrade!”
“I’ve just improved my empathy to twenty six!”
Don’t all heckle at the same time, it’s not a race.
Maybe you could have some kind of ticket system like you get in a deli.
You know? It shouldn’t fucking be like that but maybe for some people it makes them slow down. Maybe it makes them switch from eight to four pints a night or something. I honestly don’t know but so far it’s been an absolute pleasure. The only real issue with it is you then have less time to do all the things you want, as in the normal stuff you used to do. When being artistic you have to be a bit more clever with time. Me and time don’t always get on very well. I’m barely a functioning adult at the best of times really. The only place in which I really have authority is on stage or in a studio. The rest of the time I’m basically led around while people go
“No, fuckwit, do that!”
I’m largely comfortable with that. I can be quite funny, I can change a fucking fuse in a plug or whatever, I’m not completely at the mercy of the elements.
It’s been great and a lot of it is natural. What is fascinating is watching biology in action. Seeing how natural it is in terms of the way you care for your child. I mean obviously you need certain things pointed out to you, like
“Don’t take your baby to a firing range”
“No pesto before six months”.
Stuff like that. We’re not young parents, to say the least, and having a kid was a decision we had to come to. It wasn’t something that we craved like a lot of people, but the second the child’s born, you see biology in action in how Julia (Ruzicka) cares for her. There’s a bond which develops straight away and it’s really incredible to see the power of that kind of thing. Also the way that nature makes women forget about the-
In theory fatherhood should be bestowed on the slightly mature as opposed to people who need a new gadget in order to move on to level eight of life.
By the way, I have to point this out. Because of the accent, there’s no discernable difference between me saying the word woman and women. Loads of times people think I’m saying “woman” as though I sound like a caveman. Julia for the first three months of our relationship thought I was a genuinely off-my-face misogynist because she’s used to people saying “woman” and “women”. I don’t say “women” because it’s spelt with a fucking “o”. A function of my accent, which is weird and people will always think this is a lie, is that I can’t say the word “cheerleader” at normal speed.
Why would I lie about this?
I can impersonate cheerleader, I can go like this “Cheer Leader,” yeah? If I say the word “cheelie-”. I can’t say it! At full speed in my normal voice, this is me trying to say the word properly
It’s because I’m Geordie and because of the way you shape the letters “e” and “a”. They’re similar, but the way the mouth moves, I can’t say it.
So what is your accent then? I know you’re not Welsh, but you’ve lived in Cardiff a long time.
I’m from Newcastle, I lived there till I was eighteen. A lot of my family are from Ireland, but that doesn’t really influence my accent so much, maybe there’s a hint of that there. If I’d had a broad Geordie accent when I was young, my Dad would have thrown me off a bridge. Then I lived in Wales for twenty four years. I’m a little bit of a magpie with accents, I tend to pick up a little bit of whatever I’m around I suppose.
Do you do that thing where when you meet someone with a different accent you accidentally put a bit of their accent on? Like Steve McLaren in Holland?
Oh no, I deliberately impersonate them. That’s what I do. I try not to, though with one exception. One of the last times we were in Liverpool when Jimmy (Watkins) was in the band, the sound guy started taking the piss out of his accent. He was one of those Scousers who only has a great sense of humour when he’s the one taking the piss, so you just go all Steven Gerrard back at him.
(in high pitched Liverpudlian accent) “Erm, I don’t really know about that”.
I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember the old milk adverts?
Oh, Accrington Stanley!
(in high pitched Liverpudlian accent) “He says I might be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley”.
“Accrington Stanley? Who are they?”
You know that?
I do, I do.
Yeah, it’s amazing. Julia and her sister love that. The Accrington Stanley scouse accent is a bit of a comedy staple in our house around family celebrations.
It’s one of those ones where even though it’s decades old, that entire script for that entire advert is ingrained into my memory, and I’m not even that sure why.
Yeah. I suppose it’s a genius way to market milk, which is something we all buy anyway.
“Doors! What we need guys is a really memorable advert for doors because we don’t sell enough doors nowadays”.
“Mate, I’ve got a door. For my house. There’s one on the front and there’s one on the back and there’s some inside, so-”
“Why don’t you get another one!?”
Yeah, why don’t you get a new door? Let’s try a series of jokes in a Brummie accent. Let’s base it around Dukla Prague or something like that…
That was some pretty good bullshit, I’m gonna rate that as six.
I’m not even a functioning adult so if I can do it, then anybody can.
Six is very modest, I’d have gone 8.7 at least. I’d have gone for Best New Music for that one.
Best new-joint-promotion you mean?
Exactly. They’re headlining our festival? That’s weird, they just got a 9.6 album review!
Best new already-booked-for-our-festival, yeah. The last time I looked at Pitchfork it just looked like a collection of links to dance videos so I didn’t bother delving any further. I think it was some kind of discussion about ballet dancers in this video and I was thinking
“Well that’s just fascinating, thank you so much. Thank you so much for putting forward alternative music by mostly promoting acts which are mainstream.”
Let’s not waste our time talking about Pitchfork though, that’s a callous use of a young person’s time.
You’ve played Australia quite a few times, I’m guessing that’s partly because it’s an excuse for Julia to go and see family?
To a degree, yes absolutely, but it’s also because it’s one of the best places for us to play. It’s great, some of our best crowds. Not necessarily the best hecklers, I’m going to put that out to all Australians. Wait your fucking turn. Don’t all heckle at the same time, it’s not a race. Maybe you could have some kind of ticket system like you get in a deli. That’s a minor complaint, they are some of our best shows. I tell you what, the crowds in Australia are certainly better than they are in Holland.
Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of drugs in general, I think weed has its moments but if you go to Holland, a Dutch crowd is a ten-point argument against the legalisation of weed I would say. They’re not the most enthusiastic of crowds. They are very appreciative, just in a quiet way, after the show. Usually in perfect English, sometimes with a bizarre American accent that they’ve been taught in
“I just want to say that we really enjoyed your show”
“Oh great, in our country we have this tradition, it’s called applause.”
There are some exceptions, in place called Groningen there’s a venue there called Vera and that’s just like playing an old Viking drinking hall or something. When they want an encore they all bang on the stage with their tankards, it’s actually fucking amazing. I’ve had good shows in Holland, don’t get me wrong but for some reason Future Of The Left does really well in Croatia, Belgium and France. The further north it gets in Europe, people just look at us like
“Why the fuck are you here?”
At times like that when you’re on stage, it doesn’t so much become enjoyable as a mission to see how far you can get the crowd to move away from the stage, just by mouthing death threats at them. You’ve got to find some way to entertain yourself and if people aren’t going to give you appreciation back then it’s time to make them think about what they’ve done.
I guess whatever way you look at it, someone gets some kind of unique experience from the show rather than just another date on the tour.
It is, with very rare exceptions. We don’t play that often, so playing for us is exciting, it’s a holiday. It’s the most fun we have in our lives. We’re musicians who’ve, and I use the term loosely, been playing for years. We know the songs inside out, although I do mix verses up occasionally.
If making music is a dating strategy, it’s a massively flawed one.
Keeps it interesting.
Let’s say it’s a bespoke interpretation of the lyrics, that’s how I like to put it. We pretty much play to the same level of intensity every night as a band. You do because there are lots of times I’ll maybe feel ill or-
One second, my wife’s just calling me from upstairs.
“Hey darling, how’s it going? I tell you what I’ll do, I’ll pause this interview and give Steven a call back, then I’ll make the bottle and I’ll bring it up. Alright? Four scoops, no problem, bye bye.”
Are you OK, it’ll take me a minute and a half, and I’ll call you right back, is that alright?
No problem at all.
Marvellous, see you in a sec mate, bye bye.
Hey, how’s it going? All done, cat’s fed as well.
Oh wow, excellent
The pure glamour of rock ‘n’ roll.
Yeah. How many cats have you got?
Two, we’ve got two cats, we’ve had these two for three and a half years or something. Genghis, or as people continually tell you Jenghis is the correct pronunciation, and Bonsai. They’re gorgeous, they’re so lovely. Are you a catist?
Well, I would be, but for two things. One that I’ve never felt like I’ve been in a situation where I could be home enough to actually look after them properly and the other one being that I’m allergic to them. Only mildly though, but I reckon I could get over it, because I do like cats, they just make me sneeze a lot.
Well what do they say, a sneeze is a tenth of an orgasm or something? You try and chain them together and you have a multifaceted relationship.
“Oh you can’t chat women up now”.
Not with your cock out, no.
And who doesn’t like orgasms? Would be a weird one to explain though. “Yeah, I’ve got cats, mainly because I really like orgasms”.
“Why do you have cats!?”.
“Well, I’m trying to cut down on sexual orgasms, I’m moving on to accidental nasal based ones”.
Exactly, trying to share the love around the body.
So. New albums, I’m guessing you’re working on Christian Fitness and Future Of The Left right now?
We are, or I am, yes. The Christian Fitness one will happen sooner just because it’s easier for me to get it all finished and done. You’ll have to excuse me, my cat wanted out of the door and now he wants in through the door, so we’ll see what happens.
Who’d have thought that a cat would be indecisive?
(To the cat) Can you maybe have a word with yourself mate? Are you coming in or out? No idea? Well let’s go in then first.
He’s an absolute- Male cats are a force of maleness. You really see the differences in sex between animals. It’s really clear, they don’t have to put on particular clothes to denote which particular strain they’re coming from.
So yeah, the Christian Fitness one will- it’s always a bit later than I intend, but hopefully be out some time in February and I’ll be recording at the end of January. That’s one of the best things about doing the Christian Fitness thing. I finish it, then I put it out. That day sometimes, which is such a fantastic feeling.
Yeah, because they always seem to come as quite a surprise when they’re released.
To me as well, to be honest with you. Whereas the Future Of The Left album is a bit delayed by the fact that we live in different cities now (Andy & Julia recently moved to London while Jack still lives in Cardiff). There’s the occasional Future Of The Left song that I’ll write and take in, but it doesn’t happen that often, maybe once or twice a record. The songs need to be written loud in a room. I can write songs which sound good which would sound good on records at home, but I find that if I write a song at home and take it into the band and say
“Play it like this”
That’s rock ‘n’ roll at the highest level mate, turning over Quorn burgers.
Then it sounds much more standard than I’d like it to. The reason certain songs end up on Christian Fitness albums or Future Of The Left records though is usually to do with the vocal performance. A lot of the Christian Fitness songs are half spoken or have a lower pitch of vocal and that’s the kind of thing which just doesn’t work live because of the volume. It’s very difficult to work dynamically. That’s not a superficial thing, that’s not the way I think about it, but that’s the way it ends up being. I can write what I think is a really good song, and think this is perfect for Future Of The Left then I take it in and in comparison and without the clarity of a recording it can come across as a little bit mumbly and normal. In the recording, you can give it that little bit of nuance. Even though Future Of The Left is hardly math rock in any kind of sense, it does usually have a weird lurch to it, which is a thing that you can’t really recreate by yourself in a room doing things to it with some kind of tempo map or whatever. It just doesn’t work in that sense. When I just write a song, I just write a song. I’m not like
(in Yorkshire accent) “Right, time to write some Christian bloody Fitness songs”.
It doesn’t work like that. We’re were originally hoping that the next Future Of The Left album would be out May, but that’s too soon. Hopefully, if everything goes to plan and we’ve got some really really good songs- We broke the back a bit recently, we’ve definitely got an album already, but we’re going to have at least another five months to write so hopefully October next year (2018).
Cool, a date’s a good target to have something to head towards.
Absolutely, it helps to focus everything. It’s very important in any kind of creative endeavour to give yourself some kind of deadlines. Deadlines are what help the kind of people who make art. You don’t usually get involved in art because hard work is something you enjoy. You’re a flighty person. You like to catch things in the air and turn them into beautiful unique thoughts, but a deadline can really work. I saw that really clearly with Jarcrew when I knew them and they didn’t really have a deadline for their second album and as a result, they never finished it. It’s a shame because they were such a talented band. I don’t know if you ever saw them live?
I didn’t see them live, no, but that first album is amazing.
It is, it’s great, but it isn’t nearly what they were live. Live they were fantastic. A fantastic band. I’d often read about different bands and how good they were, bands like Les Savy Fav. Then I saw them live and I’m like
“Yeah, it’s good”
but I’d see Jarcrew and think
“That’s what I read about Les Savy Fav”.
Do you know what I mean? That genuine chaos which I didn’t really see with Les Savy Fav.
I guess it’s all Tim Harrington with Les Savy Fav, the rest of them are almost corporate with how tight and unengaged they are with what Tim is doing.
Yeah, I wouldn’t say unengaging, but when I saw it, it was definitely his show. If that’s what they’re going for that’s fine. They’re obviously a very good band, I don’t like to cast aspersions, but all I’m saying is Jarcrew, a band who sold 0.1% of the records of that band to me were a more vital and a dangerous life experience. By danger I don’t mean they might physically harm you, which is how ‘danger’ is often used to describe music.
“That guy’s dangerous!”
is code for
“That guy is on coke and might punch someone.”
That’s not dangerous, that’s criminal. The danger can relate to the art in the same way that rock ‘n’ roll relates to the shit that happens on the stage between the musicians. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t the fingering in the dressing room afterwards, or the being lost in performance aspects of some modern musicians, it should be about the shit which happens on the stage. That’s not to say “be a monk” or just walk around in a hairshirt or whatever. It’s just to say that the focus should be the music because if making music is a dating strategy, it’s a massively flawed one.
It’s very inefficient.
Hugely inefficient! Get over yourself, do some sit-ups and shut up.
Don’t take your baby to a firing range. No pesto before six months.
Speaking of Jarcrew, how was that show you did as mclusky* where you played with them. Were they able to tap straight back into it?
Just about, I mean maybe not quite to that level, but they were doing it off the back of a couple of rehearsals. Kelson (Mathias) is still a fantastic frontman, and the whole thing was really great. To be honest with you, I was so focused on going on after them that I probably didn’t engage with it to that level.
If I’m playing a show with somebody I don’t care if it’s a guy called Dan that I just met or some of my heroes, I just want to blow them off the fucking stage. That’s how rock ‘n’ roll should work. If you think you’re going to be the third best band on the bill that night then it’s time to not play. As far as I’m concerned, anyway, that’s not to disrespect the experience of fans of our band who’ve played with us. Even if they like our band they should try to go on and make us look like fools in comparison. That’s what they should aim for. Whether they achieve it or not, is another thing entirely.
Jarcrew were really great, I really enjoyed it, but I was more concerned with focusing on what people remembered about us. We did one of the mclusky* shows last night as well, it was the first one we did where Julia didn’t play because of childcare issues and travelling all the way up to Newcastle from London via Cardiff. Not the easiest, I know that doesn’t sound hard to people who’ve been living in Australia for a while, but for us pussy Brits, it’s quite the trek.
No, I know how painful driving in the UK is all too well. It’s not so much the distance, it’s the traffic. There’s a lot less of it here. Well, outside of Sydney and Melbourne. It’s a bit different.
Right, I mean fuck there was some traffic here, let me tell you. Julia couldn’t come so Damien (Sayell) who plays in the band The St. Pierre Snake Invasion and was singing Jon’s parts before, is now playing them as well. Not just because he’s a red-haired Welshman either.
I’m not that cynical about it. It was really good because for me it differentiated it from Future Of The Left in that sense. Somebody could have disregarded what we did before on the basis of
“Sometimes they go in wanky directions” so sayeth the bard.
“Well it’s just Future Of The Left doing mclusky songs”
and yes it is just a band who can play the fuck out of these songs playing them better than they were ever played in the first place. That is all it is, you fuck. To be honest with you, I’m kind of inventing that complaint because I’ve only really seen it once. The responses to it have been uniformly positive. The only issue with doing those shows is by virtue of the insane power of nostalgia, it will always overshadow Future Of The Left.
Is that really the case?
I’m surprised. I mean I can appreciate that from Chapple’s perspective, I remember seeing an interview with him where he was bitter about the fact that every reference to any musical project he’s involved with will always say “ex-mclusky”. Even being the bassist in Harmony where he’s not the main songwriter means that all press about them mentions “featuring members of mclusky”.
Yeah, and you know what, that is a real shame. Obviously, we had issues, but he is the kind of guy who he is always trying to move on in his creative endeavours. Like most people who are involved in art. Nobody makes a record and thinks
“Right, I just want to do that for the rest of my life, thank you it’s all over.”
For me, it was a huge part of my life and even though Jon was an integral part of that band, it was more my band by virtue of a lot of things. I don’t think he’d disagree with that, unless he’s had a severe brain injury. It was all to do with people’s favourite album by a band is usually the first thing they heard by that band. The thing which made them fall in love with it. That’s the way it goes. With ‘mclusky do dallas’, a lot of people were of a particular age when they heard it because there was something about it in the dying embers of the music press at a time where people still read it in Britain.
In the same way that I went to university in 1993, there’s a huge nostalgia around people I knew in college for bands like Oasis and Britpop stuff. It’s the stuff where it’s not necessarily the music they listen to now, but if that band’s playing it’ll bring back those memories. For me, when I hear the Stone Roses, it just makes me want to hide behind a coverall. It’s not for me, it brings back a bad nostalgia, is there a word for that? NostalNa? I don’t know.
I don’t like the pun. NostalNa man. Yeah, that’s a pun I’m not even going to put my dad-joke name to.
If it is too loud, you just move backwards from the stage.
It’s called physics.
Good point, every time you make a joke now, it’s technically a dad joke!
Technically it is, yeah. I’ve got to say- put this in the interview or not- I wasn’t doing it deliberately, but I said something that I think was the best thing I’ve ever said on stage last night. I got out a slide to play the song ‘1956 And All That’ and I said
“Are there any Eric Clapton fans here?”
and it took a while for people to put their hands up, and I’m like
“Took you a while to put your hands up, didn’t it?”
and they looked at me like
and I was like
“Do you get it? Do you get it!?”
It’s a Newcastle crowd, so they’re not the most vocal. I turned to Damien on the stage and I was like
“Do you get it?”
and he was like
“Yeah, I don’t think they get it though”
so I said
“Come on, that’s a good one right? Come on man, Slowhand! Come on! You said you were a Clapton fan, what the fuck!? What the fuck is going on!?”.
I mean that is a Dad joke, obviously. That’s the kind of interaction I’m going for on stage. A good joke, but with the awkwardness that ensues from only 11% of the audience getting it. That is how the world should really work.
Back to the mclusky thing, it was a huge part of my life and honestly, I put everything into that band. I always wanted to make music like that. The band started off being bad. The first record is a bad record. It’s a collection of demos. I liked it at the time, of course, but it’s the one record we’ve released which I wish didn’t exist. It did help us to get to other places so I recognise that it exists. I don’t necessarily regret it, but ‘mclusky do dallas’ should be the first album, it really should. In my head it really is the first album.
Well there’s a huge leap I think sonically between the two. I can see what you mean by a collection of demos, I think there are some good tracks on there but having Dallas as the debut would have been something else.
I understand that ‘mclusky do dallas’ is that important to people. It’s just so weird for me though I work too hard at this to be delusional about it. Once someone’s in a band that’s successful, the next stuff is always less successful. Always. The exceptions I can think of are… Fugazi following Minor Threat maybe. That’s it really. I mean, as good as Shellac are, Big Black were a huge thing back in the day, relatively speaking. It’s a thing you’ve got to fight against. It’s never critically praised or anything.
Radiohead never met those dizzy heights of Pablo Honey afterwards.
(laughing) Pablo Honey, jesus lord love me. Yeah, before the Aphex Twin covers albums. That is just me being cynical, I understand that people of all hues like Radiohead, it’s fine. It’s not really my thing, but whatever. I’ve just got to stop slagging off other bands, it’s just ridiculous. It’s just a muscular reaction to things now. It’s like- have you seen Toast Of London?
“Steven, can you hear me Steven?”
“Yes, I can hear you Clem Fandango!”
Whenever somebody mentions anybody famous, Matt Berry goes
(laughing) Oh yeah!
That’s the attitude I try to have towards all famous musicians, but as a joke. A month ago, before it was a bad thing to do, my friend Mike was like
“We supported Queens Of The Stone Age”
And I’m like
“Sorry mate, I’ve never heard- Who?”
Obviously a lot of people don’t get the joke which is why it’s a funny joke. I understand that lots of people think Future Of The Left is a pale imitation of mclusky and you know what? I’m comfortable about that on one level because that’s how it works. I stood on stage in both bands and I still stand on stage playing those mclusky songs, which are great fun to play, and I love them. I love those songs, I’m not ashamed by them. I understand how Chapple’d feel about those-
Have you talked to him at all since doing those mclusky* shows?
No, my mindset is that I never wish any ill will on anybody, but once you’ve had enough of somebody’s shit, it’s just best not to spend any time with them. It’s very complicated, there’s a lot of stuff I could reference but at the end of the day, what’s the point? Live and let live, it’s a big fucking world and there are plenty of people to meet out there. Unless someone turns up at your house and starts screaming things at your door.
You really don’t need to butt it out. You know what? It’s a short life man, grab every moment of happiness you can grab.
I’d do it better than all of these bastards.
These people are in bands in the same way that Kraft make cheese slices.
Wow man, that’s deep.
Well, it should be fucking obvious, but it’s just the way it is. I’ve been in bands, I’ve fallen out with people in bands, though never badly. I think in my entire time in being in a band, I’ve had three arguments.
I’ve worked and seen other bands where they argue on a daily basis. It’s absolutely fucking exhausting that kind of shit. That’s not to say that sometimes there’s not tension. Perhaps because someone’s never on time for you bus call, or because of the whatever and the whatever, but actual proper arguments or fights or that kind of stuff? Fuck that. You’ve gotta have rules.
Jon was in that band for a long time, he put a lot into it, but there were also times when he didn’t put a lot into it. It was driven by my desire to make it happen, that band, for better or for worse, that doesn’t make me a hero or anything, and for mostly very selfish reasons. I make music because I don’t see much in the way of music that I like, whereas I write comedy, but I see some brilliant comedy out there. There’s some amazing comedy being made. I don’t think I could add to that great comedy. There’s just so much good stuff out there. How does a person write something better than The Thick Of It or Veep?
How do you do that? Whereas I went to the Reading Festival when I was a kid and I thought,
“I’d do it better than all of these bastards. This is just normal, there’s nothing ridiculous or there’s no personalities involved here. These people are in bands in the same way that Kraft make cheese slices.”
Whether they know it or not, they’re going through the motions. They’ve learned to play guitar in certain ways, they’ve learnt to construct their songs around certain feelings and structures. Hey everybody uses structures from pop music from time to time. There’s loads of my songs which are just verse, chorus, verse, chorus, well… There’s no fucking guitar solos, it has to be said. That in itself is fine, but when I see bands, there’s just usually something missing to me.
There’s usually a contrivance which doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe I’m just seeing too much in it. Music is all about personalities, it’s all about imperfections, it’s all about something which just feels real. I just don’t get that with a lot of bands. To me they’re like people who’ve applied for jobs in rock ‘n’ roll and they get a list of songs to write about. Guys in their thirties still writing about being a teenager? If you’re writing in such a cynical way then it probably just comes naturally because that’s the market for rock ‘n’ roll. If you start writing for 42 year old men who are disappointed in the ashes, then even if your market is significant, they’re not going to talk about you in the way that the enthusiastic younger crowd will talk about you. They’re just going to mumble to their friends or into their own hands. That’s not of use to anybody in the advertising and marketing department.
Exactly, that’s not going to fit in well next to an advert for Shockwaves Hair Products
No, it’s not. Hang on a second, I’m just taking ten seconds to put on some Quorn burgers because that’s the kind of crazy guy I am.
It’s a bit late to be eating Quorn burgers (midnight in the UK)?
Mate, I eat whenever the hell I’m hungry.
Rock ‘n’ roll
I don’t usually go to bed until 4 or 5. My peak time of everything is between 11pm and 3am, that’s just when everything clicks for me. If I do a rock show before 9pm I really don’t know what’s happening. When you’re at a festival and you’re on like 1 or 2 in the afternoon and you’re like
“This is wrong! Rock ‘n’ roll does not happen at this time of day! This is a time for walking in the park or work or a nap”.
Although maybe that’s more based on the fact that I’ve gone to bed at half past four or something.
I don’t know, I don’t really see you as an afternoon festival music type of band. Actually, I tell you what, that’s a big thing which pisses me off about festivals is that often they’ll curate the order based on popularity, but in the afternoon I want to see something that’s a little bit more laid back, and in the evening something heavier and at the end just give me something intense.
Absolutely, something raucous just to finish it off as you’ve had a few beers. Well a very good example of that in practice is the Meredith Music Festival where the last time we played it, we had the spot where the sun was going down and it was a fucking honour to do it and it was just amazing.
We had the slot that Grinderman had the night after, or Grin-dermun as we call them.
(laughing) Grin-dermun where are those reports!?
(in Australian accent) “Yeah, are you going to see Grin-dermun tomorrow?”
Yeah, it’s a thing we do as a band. Some bands do cocaine and stuff, we deliberately mispronounce words.
There’s a joy in that, I love doing that.
It’s one of our fun games and whenever someone discovers a new one, they’ll run up to everyone and be like
“I’ve just discovered a new way to mispronounce something”.
We have another game which is using people’s full names, so rock stars like Steven Wonder.
You can put Oasis on the stereo and turn it up and it’s too loud.
It’s still fucking Oasis.
Pyjamas Harvey is my favourite. Rather changes the whole aspect of her music.
(in Liverpudlian accent) “Oh mate, do you want to come and see fucking Pyjamas Harvey on the weekend?”
“Oh I’d love to, yeah”.
Supported by The Wiggles
(laughing) Absolutely. It would kind of change the brand.
It really would! Let England Shake would be lullabies to shake a baby to sleep.
Yeah, Let England Shake would have a rather different aspect to it.
We’ve played the NME stage or whatever the fuck it was at a Reading or a Leeds Festival, though not for a good few years because we don’t have a ‘story’ behind us. It always happens when we have a new record out, Joe who does press for us is like
“We like the music, but what’s the story?”
and I’m like
“Band made record, um, like music, have thoughts about… things?”
Well you can springboard off you being a dad now and say things like “Oh it’s given me a new perspective on life”. A bit like Arms Wide Open by Creed, maybe you could write a song like that?
Yeah, uh, no. There is a new song which has dad in the title, but I think you’ll find that this song has nothing to do with fatherhood. I can’t remember what it’s called now but it is likely funny, and I’m going to go with it.
With festivals somebody said to me once
“Yeah, I saw your band earlier when I was walking through the site, and I don’t really know you, but you just sound so little and quiet compared to the headline bands”
and you’re like
“Well do you know why that is, don’t you?”
“Why, because you’re not as powerful?”
“No, because it’s contractual that the bands on early can only go up to a certain decibel limit and through the day the decibel limit goes up so the bands at the top of the bill sound louder.”
No, really? I didn’t realise that was the case
I guess the layperson doesn’t think about that. They just think the band at the top of the bill are more deserving. Look, they’re just more powerful. Like sound is an accident. I played with a band years and years ago, who I won’t name, who are nice people but who are rubbish. They were really loud though. Not particularly rocking, just really loud. Obnoxiously loud and I’m speaking as someone who’s in a loud band but our aim is not to damage your hearing. If it does, it’s too loud. On the edge of that, sure, but it’s not about physically hurting people. I said to the bass player, who happened to be one of those Americans you might have heard of, and he said
A function of my accent, which is weird and people will always think this is a lie, is that I can’t say the word “cheerleader” at normal speed.
“What do you think?”
and I said
“It was alright, yeah, but it was loud”
and he said
“Hey man, that’s how we roll”
and I’m like
“You can put Oasis on the stereo and turn it up and it’s too loud. It’s still fucking Oasis.”
It was too loud! There’ll be some people who’ll read this who’ll think
“This guy’s a fucking hypocrite, I’ve seen his band and I couldn’t hear for four days”
Honestly that is not the intention, and if it is too loud, you just move backwards from the stage. It’s called physics.
Yeah, or get some noise cancelling earplugs, the ones that get out the right frequencies.
That’s right, that’s what I’ve got and I’m not even a functioning adult so if I can do it, then anybody can.
That’d be a good line for a sponsorship deal, you should think about that.
It is an important thing because I’ve got a little bit of tinnitus in my left ear, it’s an absolute fucking nightmare sometimes and it’s nothing to be toyed with. If something is too loud, move away from it, and if something is too shit, stop listening to it.
It is funny how a lot of the rock ‘n’ roll cliches that are based on what a rock star should be are slowly ebbing away in their complete bullshitness, such as tinnitus being a cool thing to have.
Yeah, and such as being able to treat men and women as sexual objects without any repercussions. In general it’s such a healthy thing. There’s a lot of arseholes out there I’d imagine who are now either shitting themselves or at least telling themselves before they have lots of booze and cocaine that they’re going to behave in a better and more respectful way. Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there who do it just so they can engage in whatever the fuck they want to do and there are girls and boys out there who are excited for those advances. Those people should still be allowed to mess on, it’s not a question of trying to censor what is at times teenage lust but anybody who’s lived in this world knows what sexual assault is. There’s no grey areas there. It is a bit ridiculous when you see people saying things like
“Oh you can’t chat women up now”.
Nothing is funnier to me than the idea of a socialist Brexit though.
That’s not just wishful thinking, it’s twatful thinking.
Not with your cock out, no. You can’t and you couldn’t before. It’s not complicated. I think it’s healthy on a lot of levels. What it should do is make you look back through your life and go
“Could I have done a bit better in that situation?”
Make you question it. I don’t have any skeletons in my closet that I’m aware of, but it definitely made me run a quick review of my life and go
“I consider myself to be a solid person but nobody has ever behaved perfectly all their life.”
I’ve called a partner a name. I haven’t immediately turned off a Smashing Pumpkins song when someone put it on at a party. Nobody’s innocent. In all of those ways, it’s really very healthy. I think the danger is, and I think we see this with Morrissey at the minute, is that his comments have given him got a new audience in addition to the people who are in denial.
“No no, it’s a conceptual thing he’s doing, you see?”
Yeah, “Der Spiegel edited the audio, I’m sure they did!?”
Anybody who hasn’t known that guy’s fucking crackers for years is in severe denial. Good luck to those people. To me music’s the most important thing in the world but to a lot of people it’s just music. They consume it in the same way they do coffee tables and olives. To the rest of us it’s important and I believe that the things that people say are important. You can’t dictate where people’s money and love goes, and sometimes they go in wanky directions, to quote Shakespeare.
(laughing) Classic Bill
Classic Bill, classic Bill.
“Sometimes they go in wanky directions”
so sayeth the bard.
There is that thing with Shakespeare that people use it as a reflex way to give some sort of gravitas to a quote or make themselves sound more intelligent or important than they actually are.
Absolutely, it really is the absolute pinnacle of that occasion. At the end of the day, you don’t always need a quote to support what you’re saying, you can just say the truth.
“At the end of the day, you don’t always need a quote to support what you’re saying” – Andy Falkous
At the end of the day, you don’t always need a quote to support what you’re saying
Yeah, that’s the pull quote right there.
At the end of the day, as Martin Luther King once said,
“What are you doing in my shed?”.
as Gandhi once said
“I can’t believe the fucking train is late again”.
Those famous quotes.
I’ve just turned over my Quorn burgers if you can hear the sound of chaos in the background. That’s rock ‘n’ roll at the highest level mate, turning over Quorn burgers. I’m not a vegetarian, I’m not one of those people, but I do try to eat as little meat as possible just because of the planet and stuff.
That’s good. Good to have good meat too, knowing where it’s come from rather than just munching on any old shit like the recycled soles of shoes.
Yeah, I try not to eat bits of meat, though I do admit that I do struggle sometimes. I’ve been borderline vegetarian for a lot of my life, but I particularly struggle when bits of an animal’s body are identified.
“You fancy a bit of thigh of an animal which was alive once? Or how about a bit of the heart, you know, the bit which pumped the blood around the fucking body, do you want to eat that? Yeah, let’s fucking eat that. Give it to your kids yeah? How about you just eat the foot? It’s dead, isn’t it? You killed it. Have the eye, you bunch of cunts”.
I honestly believe that in centuries to come the meat and dairy industry, again this is about as close as I get to Morrissey, I’m not about to go all Brexity on you, but I think it will be regarded as a huge crime. It’s the one thing in my life which I genuinely put my head in the sand about.
Future Of The Left Live Dates
WED 10 JAN
Badlands Bar, Sydney
FRI 12 JAN
The Foundry, Brisbane
SAT 13 JAN
Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
SUN 14 JAN
Corner Hotel, Melbourne