NPR logo
Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos On The Importance Of Structure
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos On The Importance Of Structure


Once again, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. And it's time now for music.


FRANZ FERDINAND: (Singing) Take me out...

LYDEN: Nine years ago, this song was a huge hit for the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand, and it started a trend. Bands started popping up all over the place with one foot at Studio 54, and the other one at CBGBs - so half dance, half post-punk. While most of those bands are fading away, Franz Ferdinand is back after a four-year layoff with an album called "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action."


LYDEN: Alex Kapranos is the lead singer and guitarist, and he joins us now from our New York studios. Welcome to the program.

ALEX KAPRANOS: Thank you very much.

LYDEN: You know, this is such a fun album. It just had me dancing as I've been listening to it. And for anybody who's loved your music, you've had this energy from the very beginning. Did you have any kind of a mission statement, going into the writing and recording of this album?

KAPRANOS: Well, you know, I'm really glad to hear that it makes you want to dance because that's something we've always wanted to do with the band. And - I don't know - I just like a record to make you feel uplifted, like the blood runs a little bit faster in your veins.


FRANZ FERDINAND: (Singing) But how can we leave you to a Saturday night or a Sunday morning...

LYDEN: Your lyrics are always so inventive, and that's true throughout this album. But "Right Action" is actually one of the more straightforward. You say: Come home, practically all is nearly forgiven; right thoughts, right words, right action. Can you tell me just a little bit about the genesis of this one?

KAPRANOS: Yeah, yeah. Sure. It came about when one day I was in Brick Lane market, which is a flea market in London. And quite often in flea markets, you know, you find these estate sales where somebody's belongings are sold off after they die. And there was a collection of postcards; and these postcards were all blank apart from this one, solitary postcard with this message on it. And in the message field, it said those words you said: Come home, practically all is nearly forgiven.


KAPRANOS: And I loved it. It was so evocative. You thought: Who are these people? Who is being forgiven? And I was thinking, like, if that was me, would I really want to go home? Because it seems really welcoming at first, but then you kind of think, well, practically all? Nearly forgiven?

LYDEN: Nearly? (Laughing)

KAPRANOS: It's actually quite qualified. I'm not sure I really want to go back home.


FRANZ FERDINAND: (Singing) Come home, practically all is nearly forgiven...

KAPRANOS: And then we thought, all right, we need a chorus - which was going to answer this; like a response to that kind of a verse. And I'd overheard this other expression: Right thoughts, right words, right actions. I thought, that's a great response. It's not an answer. It's a response, which you can maybe come up with your own answers for.


FRANZ FERDINAND: (Singing) Right thoughts, right words, right actions...

LYDEN: One of the things about your band is that you're as creative verbally as you are musically. And I did think that this song also had, you know, some really great kind of funk guitar throwback sound to it.

KAPRANOS: What I love about funk guitar - and a lot of the bands, you know, I love things like The J.B.'s and Funkadelic and, I guess later, like, Talking Heads as well. What they would do is, they would take a song and remove the chords; and everything was reduced to melody and countermelody. And those melodies were rhythmic melodies. And that's the way I've always approached it. And I think we always see ourselves as a dance band as much as a rock 'n' roll band. And I think that's probably at the core of it. Like, every person in the band is part of the rhythm.

LYDEN: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And another song I just loved on here, "Evil Eye" - "what's the color of the next car"; well, actually, you guys do it a lot better. We'll just listen to a little bit of it here.


FRANZ FERDINAND: (Singing) Ooh, what's the color of the next car? Yeah, red, you bastard...

LYDEN: I just love: Yeah, red, you bastard...


FRANZ FERDINAND: (Singing) Some people get freaked out on me. Some people can't see that I can. Oh, some people wanna see what I see. Some people put an evil eye on me...

LYDEN: This one - I don't know, this one explodes.

KAPRANOS: Oh, cool. I'm really glad. I'm really glad. Yeah, this one - you see, my dad's Greek, and I would go to Greece a lot when I was a kid. And a lot of Greek culture, I feel, is very much part of my heritage. In Greece, my grandmother was obsessed with the evil eye and people putting the evil eye on you in different ways; you would have to ward off the evil eye. And she was also obsessed with predicting the future as well. And she would read the grounds of the coffee cup.

I would look in, and I'd maybe see some squiggles. And with a bit of a push, I could maybe imagine seeing some mountains and rivers. But she would just see death and destruction and calamity. And (foreign language spoken)...


KAPRANOS: And so you could...

LYDEN: But you could never go wrong with that, you know?

KAPRANOS: No, no, no. Of course. And I think those kind of superstitions have stuck with me throughout my life. And even though - like, I have these intellectual ideas where I kind of dismiss the majority of religion or whatever, and think - but I'm still superstitious at heart. And like, I've still got a soft spot for all that sort of thing.

And I was sitting in this cafe; I'm like, yeah, maybe I've got the evil eye. Maybe I can predict the future. And so I was closing my eyes and like, what's the color of the next car? Well, it's going to be red. I'd open my eyes, and a red car went past. I'm like, yes, red, you bastard. And so that's how the song came about.


FRANZ FERDINAND: (Singing) No, no, there's no solution. Some people wanna see what I see. Some people got an evil eye on me...

LYDEN: You know, your album ends on this ominous note with the lyrics: Goodbye lovers and friends, you can laugh as if we're still together, but this really is the end. Gosh, you know, don't scare your fans here. You're not going to break up or anything, are you?

KAPRANOS: I don't know. I can't predict the future that well; that wasn't the intention. And this song was written completely independently. But we decided it would be - well, you know, when we were deciding on the running order of the album, it's one of my favorite bits; you know, the bit at the end, where you've got this collection of songs. It's like making a compilation for somebody. And so the album opens up with the words, "Come home, practically all is nearly forgiven"; and it ends with the words, "But this really is the end." It just seemed like the perfect way to end an album - maybe not a career, just an album.


KAPRANOS: (Singing) ...anyway, goodbye lovers and friends. So sad to leave you. When they lie and say this is not the end, you can laugh as if we're still together. You can laugh about it all anyway...

LYDEN: Alex Kapranos is the lead singer with Franz Ferdinand. Their new album comes out Tuesday. It's called "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action." And for a limited time, you can hear the entire album at Alex, thanks so much. Congratulations.

KAPRANOS: Thanks very much, Jacki. Cheers.


FRANZ FERDINAND: (Singing) the ones I love. So goodbye...

LYDEN: And for Saturday, that's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Check out our weekly podcast. Search for WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on iTunes, or on the NPR smartphone app. Click on Programs; scroll down. We are back on the radio tomorrow. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great night.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.