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Franz Ferdinand: "Working with Xenomania was just so wrong that we thought it may be right"
Posted at 5:53 PM, 01 February 2009 -

Franz Ferdinand have been speaking a lot in interviews about their unsuccessful recording sessions with Xenomania. The band began recording their third album with the pop production house in 2008, but ended up ditching the sessions later in the year. Their latest album, Tonight, was recently released.

They have been constantly asked in interviews about the reason why things didn't work out, and what they have learned from the experience. Long story short, it didn't work out with Xenomania because of some irreconcilable methods (they even had a "huge barney" in front of Brian Higgins over a drum beat...). They say that Brian Higgins' process of working with his team of ten or so people was too messy - they have specific staff in their organisation working on areas like lyrics, melodies or beats and Franz Ferdinand operate the same way, so the band felt it was "a case of too many cooks".

Franz Ferdinand also felt "amazed" by some people's reaction to their collaboration: «I think it says a lot about the prejudices a lot of people have, everyone from other musicians to fans and journalists, about bands like us and people like Xenomania. And the idea that those worlds could never come together.»


Here are few interesting excerpts from interviews:

--- «We spent a couple of weeks with Brian and went down to their studio in Kent. We had a great time there and they are very inspiring, lovely people but it had very little impact on the record in the long run. It just wasn’t right for us. What worked on paper didn’t work when we got there. They make music in a different way to us. They’re used to writing their own songs and we’re used to writing our own. We don’t need them to write songs for us. But I do love them and they are a lot more innovative than many other contemporaries.”

--- When asked what they took away from their time with Brian Higgins's company, singer Alex Kapranos joked: "Some crockery, some silverware. All the Girls Aloud master tapes!"
Bassist Bob Hardy commented: "Xenomania had an amazing work ethic. After we spent a couple of days with them, we worked a little bit harder when we got back to Glasgow."
Kapranos continued: "I enjoyed it. It was really interesting to see how they worked. It was an eye opener."

--- Alex Kapranos: «I was always kind of interested to see how Xenomania worked. Their idea of writing in a modular way – sometimes you sketch down ideas, record melodies or improvise as we sit around on the session. It’s not a conventional style they use, but if there’s a way of saying the way they write …
«They have a target and know what they’re writing for whereas we write and that’s the adventure. The surprise is the reward.»
«Certain rules went down that weren’t liked. Nick and I had a huge barney in front of Brian Higgins over the whole high-hat scoop drum beat [the signature beat that held down much of their debut] as daft as it sounds…»

--- «Working with Xenomania was just so wrong that we thought it may be right. Brian Higgins is a guy who's used to working with manufactured pop groups, and the process of working with his team of ten or so people was just too messy. They have specific staff in their organisation working on areas like lyrics and we operate the same way with our Franz Ferdinand organisation. The result was a case of too many cooks. I'm not disappointed because I think it worked out best for everyone in the end.»

--- «The way Xenomania work is that there is a group of them and one of them will do the melodies and one will do the lyrics and then someone on beats and keyboards so it’s very similar to how we work. In a way they’re a band on their own and we didn’t need their expertise as we have our own.»

--- «I love their unconventional attitude to pop music. The structures and sounds of their songs are really radical. But they're a set of writers, even more than producers, and we're a set of writers as well and we didn't want anybody else writing songs for us. It was almost like asking another band to produce your record and write for you. It didn't seem to ring true. But it was a good experience. I came away feeling very positive from it.»

--- «I was really amazed by the way people reacted to that. I think it says a lot about the prejudices a lot of people have, everyone from other musicians to fans and journalists, about bands like us and people like Xenomania. And the idea that those worlds could never come together.
«But I loved the ideas that those guys had and they've made some very interesting records. Their songs are unpredictable, they are novel, they are original yet they still have an extremely strong sense of melody and that's everything I wanted Franz Ferdinand to be.»
«(...) they are so used to writing everything and maybe we couldn't get our heads around that or it would have taken a really long time to work out the record. We got on well, we had a really, really good time but it wasn't going to be right.»

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