Franz Ferdinand's fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, arrives next week, but the record almost never materialized at all. After finishing touring around their 2009 album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, frontman Alex Kapranos considered breaking up the U.K. alt-rockers, he tells The Observer.
Kapranos met up with bassist Bob Hardy in the Orkney Islands in Scotland about two years ago to discuss Franz Ferdinand's future. "I wanted to split the band up, because in my head it felt like one of those jobs . . . the ones I had to jack in. I didn't like the routine and the obligations," Kapranos said. " And whether those obligations lay with my contemporaries, my peers, my record label, the fans, the audiences – or maybe myself . . . I felt . . . It was time to, erm, stop that."
The band's quick rise about a decade ago caused a whirlwind of uncomfortable developments, particularly overseas. Their label, the indie Domino, only had three people on staff in America at the time and were unable to physically deal with Franz Ferdinand's growing record sales. They signed with a major for the U.S., but the environment was alien. Their U.S. label was then taken to court over allegations that they bribed DJs to play music of their choice.
"I was like, 'Fucking hell, here we are in court on some payola charge' . . . It was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to be as a band," Kapranos said. "They pushed us in a way that didn't feel natural. I shouldn't complain too much – we sold lots and lots of records. But I think the way it accelerated so quickly was probably quite damaging for us."
That longstanding discomfort resulted in Kapranos almost splitting up the group around and after Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. Kapranos was "incredibly miserable" while making the album; while he didn't point to a specific reason, he did split with then-girlfriend Eleanor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnances around that time. His food column for The Guardian also resulted in a book, offering another distraction. The band's touring schedule around the album was exhausting, and they needed "decompressing" time. "[Afterwards] I just came down heavily with depression, I think," guitarist Nick McCarthy said. "I just thought, 'Eurrgh, can't play music any more.' Couldn't stand it. We'd sucked ourselves dry."
But Kapranos is excited and ready for Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, having firmly rediscovered Franz Ferdinand's identity. "When we came to making the new album, we decided that oddness was just us!" he said. "And we should enjoy that: it should be at the heart of our existence if we want to continue."