History buffs may remember the name Franz Ferdinand as the archduke of Austria-Hungary, whose assassination led to the start of World War I. But for a new generation, the name simply means a rock band whose music is fun to dance to. The Scottish quartet is now on tour promoting its new album. NPR's Rob Sachs caught up with them backstage.

(Soundbite of "Take Me Out")

ROB SACHS reporting:

"Take Me Out," from Franz Ferdinand's self-titled debut, was more than just a hit. It was a musical turning point, birthing a new genre described as post-punk.

(Soundbite of "Take Me Out")

Mr. ALEX KAPRANOS (Franz Ferdinand): (Singing) I say, `Don't you know?' You say, `You don't know.' I say, `Take me out.'

SACHS: Not surprisingly, Franz Ferdinand is a band of contradictions. Lead singer Alex Kapranos often writes complex ideas and intimate personal stories and then buries them under a loud, pulsing rhythm. On the new album "You Could Have It So Much Better," the first track, "The Fallen," alludes to a Christlike figures who forces self-righteous people to reassess their value systems.

(Soundbite of "The Fallen")

Mr. KAPRANOS: (Singing) So you say you're a troubled boy just because you like to destroy all the things that bring the idiots joy. Well...

SACHS: If putting an ecclesiastical allegory to a really good dance beat sounds strange, it shouldn't, says lead singer Alex Kapranos.

Mr. KAPRANOS: I don't think you can be precious about your music, no matter how grand your intentions are. You have to understand that some people are going to take it as nothing but a catchy tune. And so, yeah, like in "The Fallen," I'm trying to write about a hell of a lot of things, things that are important to me, thing that are--I'm talking about so many different subjects there. There's intricacy and detail. Yet I know some people that are just going to say, `Oh, yeah, it's just a fun little pop song.'

(Soundbite of "The Fallen")

Mr. KAPRANOS: (Singing) Did I see you in a limousine flinging out the fish and the unleavened. You turn the rich into wine, walk on the mean. Be they Magdelan or virgin, you've already been, you've already been and we've already seen that the fallen are the virtuous among us, walk among us, never judge us to be blessed.

It happens for any form of creativity. You could read "Animal Farm" and think it's just a nice story about animals if you want to, a great farmyard tale, or Aesop's fables in the same manner. You could listen to Beethoven and just think `Da-da-da da' is an amazing riff. It's up to you. It's not up to the creator to dictate the terms upon which that creation is officiated.

(Soundbite of "Outsiders")

SACHS: Kapranos and his band mates like the idea of communicating on different levels at different times. It's a style that's gotten these four lads from Glasgow compared to those other four lads from Liverpool. Their music has hints of the anti-authority gusto of the Buzzcocks and Brit pop beats reminiscent of Blur. And that's how they like it, a hodgepodge of sounds that separately are warmly familiar but as a whole completely unique.

(Soundbite of "Outsiders")

Mr. KAPRANOS: (Singing) ...seen some change, but we're still outsiders. If everybody's here...

SACHS: That formula for creation extends to everything about the band: their attitude, their style and even how they chose to name themselves after an obscure archduke. Again, Alex Kapranos.

Mr. KAPRANOS: There wasn't really much exciting about his character himself, but in that moment of assassination, the 20th century really began. That was the point where everything changed in history, a fragment of time. And I think that's a good metaphor for everything that bands should try to strive towards, being one of those moments upon which everything turns and nothing's quite the same afterwards. All those great bands are like that, the Clash or Nirvana or The Smiths. In their own way, they changed events and made music different.

(Soundbite of "Outsiders")

Mr. KAPRANOS: (Singing) Seventeen years, will you still be Camille Lee Miller, Gala or whatever. You know what I mean. Yeah.

SACHS: Maintaining independence isn't always easy. After selling three million albums, Kapranos feels the pressure to start acting the part of a rock star, but he's defiantly normal. Backstage at LA's Greek Theater, he sits quietly in a comfortable sweater and slacks. Outside, thousands of starry-eyed teen-age girls stream into the venue, anxiously waiting for him to appear on stage.

Mr. KAPRANOS: The whole idea of rock 'n' roll is the indulgence of individuality, the idea that you can just do what the hell you want. It's one of the greatest forms of rebellion. But the rebellion has been perverted into this horrible sense of conformity because people feel they have to conform to this clicheted idea of what a rebel is. And I don't feel that I have to be that clicheted idea of what a rebel should be.

(Soundbite of song)

SACHS: Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. The band begins its European tour later this week. For NPR News, I'm Rob Sachs.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. KAPRANOS: (Singing) Well, do ya, do ya, do ya wanna...

BRAND: To hear more music from Franz Ferdinand, go to our Web site,

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. KAPRANOS: (Singing) I wanna go where I can't have met you before. Well, do ya, do ya...

BRAND: More to come on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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