the plot against common sense: Future Of The Left

"One of my favorite things in the world is arguing..."
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There’s a rumor that if you push Future Of The Left’s Andy Falkous far enough he turns green and can destroy Cardiff city centre within minutes. Probably not true, but Falkous is certainly a very fiery and outspoken frontman.

Recently, music sites have covered his very public confrontation regarding the work of music journalist Ian Cohen and his misinformed album review of the band’s latest effort ‘The Plot Against Common Sense’. In the review Cohen challenges the singer’s lyrical skills and the “corporate slick production” of the piece - although Andy Falkous argues that Cohen fails to comprehend the lyrics in the right manner and the record cost very little money, which they borrowed from a mate.

In retaliation, the frontman wrote a lengthy blog, posting comments such as: “Would this be the kind of corporate slickness you get through recording an album in 16 days (using the same methods as ever) over a six month period in studio downtime and friend-financed to the tune of £2,000 (whilst we work in temporary jobs and with credit, when available, to support our habit)” and “As for the cover, well, there’s a penguin on it you stupid cunt.”

But was it right to go on such an rampage like this? Along with dealing with the monarchy and surviving in the music industry, Andy Falkous explains why this online rant was necessary and not just a desperate defense mechanism.

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Heavier music seems to be making a comeback - why do you think this is?
Andy: You work in the music press, it’s in the interest of the music press and the labels to have narratives and stories and trends and themes. They come and go really, at the end of the day you’re probably left with good bands and maybe some of the more striking bands at the minute are a bit louder than they used to be. Indie’s such a catchall term now, 20 years ago it meant The Wedding Present and now it could mean absolutely anything. You have everything from indie hip hop to indie death metal, which is a genre that I was just introduced to. But heavy music... people always like heavy music and always have. Have you ever been to Birmingham? Lots of metallers just walking around looking for the nearest McDonald’s.

You recently wrote a very fiery response to a journalist about a recent album review - why did you feel it necessary to reply?
The function, as you probably feel yourself to a degree, of music reviews in particular, aren’t exactly what they used to be because someone can go: “It sounds like this does it? Well, I’m gonna go listen myself!” It wasn’t an option before. When I grew up reading Melody Maker, if you said this band sounds like a gang of eggs fighting with a disabled wolf, then - just be to pull something out of the ether - you’d kind of be stuck with that. But you can go: “It sounds like Lightning Bolt does it? Well, I’m gonna go to Spotify and find out exactly what it sounds like for myself.” One person’s opinion is really neither here nor there, but when people look for my band, which is my passion and my livelihood, and our passion and our livelihood, probably for the next three years the first thing they’ll find on Googling the band’s name and maybe the album title is that review.

Each review is as honest as the other, nobody writes purely objectively... that’d be a dull review. But if somebody gets it so wrong, and I think it was important not to even wander or attempt as much as possible not to wander into some debate. This guy thinks a particular song is rubbish, my counter argument isn’t ahhh, it’s not! My counter argument is to say it’s fine if you don’t enjoy it, but the columns you’re constructing your argument on are made of sand. Feel free to dislike it, but please dislike it for the real reasons you dislike it. It’s not ‘Mclusky Do Dallas’, because if what you want is ‘Mclusky Do Dallas’, there is an album available which you can listen to... it’s called ‘Mclusky Do Dallas’ and it was released in 2002. Sounds exactly like ‘Mclusky Do Dallas’ and that’s the album it is and ever will be. To repeat the album would be ridiculous, but there’s a spiritual link between the bands, they’re not a thousand miles removed. I honestly thought - I’m very, very proud of the album - but the review was a little bit shocking to me... it caught me by surprise in one sense because I thought if anyone had a problem with the album it would be people who tend towards the heavier side, who maybe think there was a bit too much variety on there. I believe the album does rock out, but for people that are into songs that slam along all the time are maybe going to find that they’re going to have to take pauses in-between the noise and distraction. But I did not for one second think that the lyrics and the motivations behind the lyrics would be called into question, because I’m as proud of these lyrics as I am of anything I’ve put my...I feel like rather than just writing in a bleak almost irrelevant fun style, I’ve managed to home a natural love of language into actually saying something from a certain position without pertaining to lecture somebody. On one level because of the love we have for this album and how difficult it’s been to make for us, it was genuinely very upsetting. We felt we needed to state my case. But, I will say, one of my favorite things in the world is arguing... words can be used so wonderfully.

You recorded the album quite quickly and had to borrow the money to do so - was this process stressful for you?
The actual writing of the songs and the recording of the songs was wonderfully fun. But sometimes, not just in terms of being in a band, just life in general, you’re so focused on what you want to achieve from a record or a relationship or a job, that you forget to enjoy the process of it. Somethings aren’t to be enjoyed I’ve worked jobs where I’ve had to photocopy things for a few weeks nonstop, and however you look at life, whatever your degree of zen, it’s very difficult to enjoy that without becoming psychotic. But the process of recording and writing songs is still incredibly exciting to me. It’s not being in a band that’s stressful, it’s trying to live the rest of your life successfully that makes being in a band not as fulfilling as it should be. But the problem would never be the music, the music is the thing that makes it all worth while. Again, without sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech, the thing that makes it worth while beyond that is friends as well, because you do have friends even if you don’t high five them all the time.

In regards to the Jubilee, punk music has had a long and confusing relationship with its view towards the British Monarchy and the Queen - what’s your stance?
I don’t really have a personal opinion on the Queen. The Queen is a person who was born into a certain position, but precisely the reason that I don’t have any personal animosity towards the woman is exactly why I have a problem with the institution. She was simply born into the position. It’s not exactly a sophisticated argument, but it offends me that people; figure heads, have those kind of lifestyles, have those kind of homes, whilst there are starving people not even just in this world but in this country. There are arguments that are put forward that are incredibly disingenuous: there is the tourism one for example. It is true that there is a large proportion of Americans that are enchanted by our whole system of monarchy that we have, they find it really magical and special, because even though they try from time to time, they have nothing else that compares to it. But the tourism angle... it doesn’t wash with me. If you think about the sheer size of the land that the Royal Family own and rent out, the Civil List is still a huge strain on the country, if you think about the security arrangements for these people, and then finally the palace of Versailles is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Europe... and you know what the French did to their monarchy, right? What I’m saying is if tourism really is these disingenuous bastards' main concern, then we should chop their heads off right now. I suspect it isn’t, I suspect it’s simply a royalist looking for a crutch to support their love. Monarchy offends me as opposed to the Queen, I’m sure she’s a very nice lady.

You’re an extremely outspoken individual - has this landed you in any trouble?
I probably didn’t free my inner voice until I was 13. I was a very small child and my dad was a headmaster, so I got bullied a lot when I was a kid. But when I was 13 I discovered how to tell people to fuck off. Any beatings I’ve suffered or enjoyed really haven’t had anything to do with me opening my stupid mouth. I think you can say what you think whilst still having respect for people. Generally speaking, you only really open up on people when they show you less respect than everyone else. I find that if you tell someone you’re right, they disagree first, then you show them you're right... or you bore them into submission. I’m particularly good at that second one.

Words by Jamie Carson

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'the plot against common sense' is out now.

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