Andy Falkous can be an imposing figure. Onstage, the singer is a true rock warlord, a study in intensity who takes absolutely no prisoners. Yet in person, the frontman is a patient, genial interviewee – who is not averse to the odd emotional slippage.
Agreeing to chat with Clash upon the release of new album ‘How To Stop Your Brain In Accident’ the future of the left frontman clearly enjoyed the studio process. “Sometimes being in a band you find the business side – as the word ‘business’ suggests – incredibly dull, but sometimes it feels so vital that it really is the best thing in the world,” he states. “That week was definitely one of the best weeks of my life.”
Newly married – to band member Julia Ruzicka – Falkous retains a thirst for creating something new, for getting into the studio and producing something distinct, something truly alive. “It was the best week of my life - in terms of falling asleep satisfied every night - I’ve had since we recorded ‘McLusky Do Dallas’. Although to be fair it’s the only time that I’ve spent a week in a studio since, it’s always been very bitty because of financial and also work-based necessity,” he explains. “To have a whole week in this place in the middle of nowhere, where there were very few distractions that lager can’t entirely hinder – I hesitate to use such words but it was just fucking magic.”
The passion, the energy of those sessions shines through quite clearly on the new album. ‘How To Stop your Brain In An Accident’ blazes from the off, with future of the left eager to try new things, to attempt new feats whilst retaining their essential core sound. Entering without a game plan, Andy Falkous insists on keeping the studio process as simple as possible. “Every record is approached in the same way, as in: you just write the best songs you’ve got, then you record them all and then at the end of that process you see what you’ve got and you stick ‘em in a rough order” he says, with a palpable grin in his voice. “It’s always meant to be pop music but it’s just pretty obvious that we’re not very good at pop music”.
“The plan is always the same, there’s never an agenda to say things, there’s never a manifesto to be obeyed or defaced” he states. “It’s always just the same thing, and the records end up sounding differently because of the particular chemistry of the time, because of the rooms in which they were recorded and I guess the lyrics end up coming out differently because of the contemporary concerns of the people who end up shouting them into microphones. There’s honestly never a plan, and maybe that’s the strength and maybe that’s the weakness – I have no idea.”
Continuing, Falkous asserts that the heart of the band’s music isn’t those rhythmic twists and turns, or even his own scorched howl – it’s the melody. “The thing is the band is everything to us, so to try and put it down to one frame of mind or process would be disingenuous on my part” he insists. “You try everything and whatever works, works. It’s thought about all the time but it gets to a point where if it still works it simply self-evidently works, you don’t need somebody to turn around and say: this one’s too complex. We write a lot of music as a band, we write tonnes of parts of songs but it’s probably only 5 or 10% which actually get through into consideration because we’re not into music or twists and turns – it’s all about the melody. A lot of people, say, with a more extreme exposure to music might be shocked and appalled to hear us say that but that really is the primary objective.”
Yet the chaotic, free-flowing nature of the writing sessions belies the carefully constructed nature of the band itself. Finding themselves without a label, future of the left opted to use PledgeMusic as a means of providing funding for the new album. Released through their own Prescriptions label, it’s a triumph of the will over an increasingly faltering industry. “What drew us towards the PledgeMusic route is that it was really our only option to do the record” he explains. “We could have waited around for the ice to melt and for the world to change and for the return of the woolly mammoths, but I think the likelihood of woolly mammoths returning is probably higher than major record labels ever dominating the world again and probably a slightly more appealing notion as well. We could have –I suppose – raised the money through bank loans to do the record, we could have simply set up a basic pre-order which may have raised some of the funds but frankly we can’t take any more debt on.”
Reaching their target amount in a mere four hours, future of the left were then able to draw up a schedule as they saw fit. Yet doesn’t the Pledge method apply extraneous pressure, we ask, to meet the expectations of fans who are funding those sessions? “No” he answers. “Maybe for some people, maybe for a younger band, maybe for individuals with their ideas, with their aesthetic less set could be influenced in that way. I think that’s a definite possibility, y’know, to give people what they want. Certainly, it’s been the case with me since my mid to late 20s that I make the kind of music that I want to hear. I’m the biggest fan of the band, and I’m incredibly harsh and critical about everything right from the very start”.
Yet all this concentration, this momentum has never allowed Falkous to enter the mainstream. After McLusky’s disintegration, future of the left have ploughed their own path for almost a decade but the machinations of the music continue to weary the singer. “You’d be surprised – being in a band, if the band get paid then everybody else already has been. The last people to get paid are the band” he insists. “I’m not moaning about it - we still do this thing and we still love this thing but we obviously don’t do this thing for money, because if we do then we’re very slow individuals.”
Words: Robin Murray
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'How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident' is out now.
future of the left have confirmed the following UK shows:
1 Leeds Belgrave Music Hall
2 Glasgow Broadcast
3 Newcastle The Cluny
5 Sheffield Queens Social Club
6 Liverpool East Village Arts Club
7 Manchester Gorilla
8 Nottingham Bodega
9 Birmingham Temple
12 Brighton The Haunt
13 London Heaven
14 Bournemouth 60 Million Postcards
15 Bristol Thekla
The latest issue of Clash Magazine is available to purchase online - click HERE for details.