Tag Archives: WHITE

The Franz get nostalgic.

Off the back of the positive critical and commercial success of their FFS collaboration with Sparks, Franz Ferdinand’s drumming machine Paul Thomson is enjoying the home comforts again after an extensive UK, European and North American tour, speaking over coffee about first gigs, swinging with (or without) Sparks and what it is to be an ‘unsigned’ band.

With those in music circles comparing Glasgow newbies White’s Future Pleasures as the best debut single since Franz’s own Take me Out, this gave room for Paul to cast his mind back to a small bedroom in the city’s Sauchiehall St, the scene of the band’s first gig.

“It was the Champions League final and people showed up late. Some friends of ours had organized an art showing in a flat, with the art in one bedroom and we played in the next. We only did 4 songs but because folk turned up late we played the same set twice. They all ended up on the first record. Michael, Auf Asche, Jacqueline and Tell Her Tonight. I was working in Directory Enquiries at the time so I came straight from work.”

As a then seasoned member of the Glasgow music scene, it wasn’t as if the forming of Franz felt like it was instantly going to reach the heights they eventually have.

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“We just new it was a good band. I’d been doing it for years in bands like Pro Forma and The Yummy Fur. Usually what happens is you get someone to put your record out and go and tour for a week to promote it and try and get out of signing on (the dole) for that week. Go on tour and kip on floors and get drunk, and that’s your holiday basically.”

Although it wasn’t long after the bedroom gig that things seemed to step up a gear from just playing gigs to the Art school community that they hung around with.

“I guess when people outside our social circle started coming to gigs then you’re sort of thinking that we might be onto something. With people who we don’t know hearing about us through not much effort on our part. We were just kinda doing it for our social group really because it’s what you do in Glasgow. Play shows and your friends come down.”

Paul credits Alex (Kapranos) with being the one who really motivated him and the rest of the band with the belief that something could happen.

“Alex taught IT to refugees and elderly people – teaching them how to work a computer. When we started out he had a proper job and a flat and a mortgage and all that. He had kind of given up on music because he didn’t think it was ever going to happen and then he really sort of pushed us when this came together. Whereas my life was, I was kind of living one day to the next, I was homeless and sleeping on Alex’s floor in the hall.”

“He was like, this was my last chance at this. Whereas I was so caught up in the now I didn’t have a long term plan. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for his determination and drive.”

The very fact as well that they were playing together and “being kind of fairly honest about it all”, rather than actively pursue a record deal, also seemed not to hinder the band in ways it might have others, hell bent on success.

“We never saw ourselves as an ‘unsigned’ band, because of the bands we had been in previously we did it all ourselves. I thought that’s what it was going to be like for us. We would pull all the money from gigs and pay for recording our single and put it out ourselves, like 500 7 inches. That was the plan anyway. I guess because of that background that’s why we went with Domino, because it was an indie label.”

Paul recalls how, with the band generating the attention of the major labels, Domino Records came in to snap them up, although not without the odd hiccup on their part.

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“Serge their manager met up with me and said that we were on the same level as Pulp and The Stone Roses and I was like ‘Fuck off, London wanker’. He came up and saw us rehearse and it was quite nerve racking, just playing all the songs you’ve got to one person who has travelled all the way from London.

I remember he said, ‘Yeh we will go out for a drink afterwards, Alan Mcgee is DJing at a club night in The 13th Note and I’ve got us in.’

At this point we were like, me and Alex have worked there for like six years.”

And even with the deal in place, it still took a while it to sink it that they could be on the cusp of something big.

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“I remember us taking pictures of ourselves holding our guitars on our way to practice, standing next to the posters Domino carpet bombed Glasgow with.”

As for other (Glasgow) bands who are following in their footsteps, Paul had some choice words to say how he feels the music scene has changed since Franz started to make their mark.

“No bands are getting signed now. There’s nothing worse than seeing ‘THE BEST UNSIGNED BAND IN BRITAIN’ labelled on a band. I mean, if they are that good why are they still unsigned?”

“They are as well doing their own thing, you don’t have to get signed anymore, there’s nothing in it for the artist, your better just doing it your way. In Glasgow people can get by, working part time and then spending the rest of it making music or art. The weather kind of helps as well, there’s no point in being outside. It’s always been like that.”

With the band now having played just about every venue in Glasgow, from abandoned jails and warehouse spaces to the SECC, there’s one venue not on the list that may surprise a few people, in the form of a certain King Tuts Wah Wah Hut.

“We were a total reaction against King Tuts from the start. Because they had a sort of pay to play policy it was all geared towards unsigned talent. We weren’t trying to get signed, we were just doing our own thing. We just did it ourselves cause it was more fun that way. Tuts to us was the establishment.”

It sums them up that they asked our management about doing a show for their 20th anniversary recently, when they started asking all the bands that ever played Tuts and we thought, wait a minute, we never even played there. To me that sort of highlights the entitled arrogance of the place.”

That aside, Paul turned his attention back to the here and now, and the band’s recent partnership with Sparks. Probing him on a previous assertion that Franz were like an “open, modern marriage”, I wondered if the move from a 4-some to a 6-some reflected a desire to spice up proceedings, with a casual reference to bit of marital swinging.

“No offence to Sparks, but if I was going to swing it wouldn’t be with two elderly gentlemen from Los Angeles.”

He went on to suggest that their work together has come to an end, even he regards the album as an accomplishment for the band.

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“It was just different having to accommodate two totally different people from different backgrounds. So for us it was time to draw a line in the sand after the last tour date. Have you heard our Christmas single? I don’t think anyone has.”

So what’s next for Franz Ferdinand then?

Again, off the back of a remarkably successful 2015, and with 4 studio albums and over 3 million albums sold to date, the band aren’t for calling it a day anytime soon.

“I guess we are just going to write and demo as much as we can. We still think of ourselves as contemporary even if no one else does.”

White, your new favourite colour.

2015 has been some year for White. Big ups from Elton John, headline sets at Tenement Trail, and making the floor bounce at Amsterdam’s legendary Paradiso venue spring to mind for the band seen as the best export Glasgow has had to offer the music world since a certain Franz Ferdinand.

To put the cherry on top their proverbial pie, the group walked away with ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ at the recent Tartan Clef Scottish Music Awards in Glasgow. Not bad for a band that have only been on our radar for the best part of a year.

As the band swanned up the attention on the red carpet, frontman Leo Condie admitted that the award represented a nice milestone for the band.

“We are all really excited that we are winning something that makes us feel that we are getting somewhere. It’s always hard to tell because we have our heads down immersed in the music, so it’s really nice that people have taken notice of us.”

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“We’ve always kind of written songs that we want to be immediate, songs were you are able to get them without having heard them and listened to them over and over again.  We want them just to hit you straight in the chest. When you go out and play and you get the right response from that it’s fucking great.”

As for highlights so far, the band were hard pushed to see beyond the Amsterdam gig, as guitarist Hamish indicated.

“The Amsterdam gig was fucking amazing, it was like a rave. It’s probably one of my favourite gigs we have done. We were the last act on at 2am and the room was stoud out and everyone was jumping around. Our friend was in the audience and said the floor was moving when we were playing.”

Although closer to home, headlining Tenement Trail still lingers fresh in the memory.

“That was amazing, we owe Tenement TV a lot. We are a totally new band and there were a lot of bands that have been going for a long time on the bill so for us to be given the chance to headline a Glasgow festival like that was awesome. It put us right in people’s faces. The festival will just get bigger and bigger.”

Hailing from previous groups such as the Low Miffs, Kassidy and Garden of Elks, bass player Lewis is quick to extol the connection between the five-piece.

“The reason why we have all came together in the band is that we all love music, we all love playing together and we are all friends. Me, Hamish and Chris have been writing together for ages so it was great when Leo and Kristin came in and added this other dimension to the band.”

Whereas guitarist Chris was keen to tip his hat off to Glasgow.

“It’s cool to have an eclectic mix like we do in the band. It totally resembles what the Glasgow scene is like just now. There’s a lot of people making music because they want to without holding any unnecessary grudges against other bands.

And with respect to their home city, Leo feels more than happy to see the band mentioned in the same breath as Franz Ferdinand, with WHITE’s upcoming headline show at the QMU a personal triumph for him.

“I remember growing up in Glasgow and it was so exciting how well it was going for them and  it made the eyes of the music world turn on Glasgow for a while, although we were all a bit to young to be in bands to profit out of it. I remember standing outside the QMU when I was at uni listening to them sound check and stuff, so for us to be playing there is great.”

A slot on the bill for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party will see them play out the year in some style, as the band look to a 10 date UK tour spread over February and March, with Hamish keen for the band to spread their wings further afield again.

“I’m kind of hoping we become one of these bands that does well in Europe and we can go over and play there all the time.”

To which Leo finished with a smile…

“We will be headlining Hampden next year.”

And, although he was being tongue in cheek, you can’t fault the swagger and confidence the band gives off, as the cry for ‘a new colour in the musical palate becomes as loud as the band’s wardrobe.

WHITE.

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Tenement TV continues to blaze a trail.

Saturday seems a long time ago but my ears are still ringing from a quite incredible day and night’s worth of music thanks to the guys at Tenement TV.

Their annual shindig, Tenement Trail, took over 6 different city centre venues while hosting more than 40 bands from all over the UK. With a line up that boasted the likes of Neon Waltz, Be Charlotte and Laura St Jude, alongside ‘the new Franz Ferdinand’ in White, the movers and shakers of Glasgow were certainly spoiled for choice.

Early sets by the bluesy, Deep South influenced ‘The Bar Dogs’ and the rapid fire Jake Bugg-esque Declan Walsh set the early tone, with both gigs pulling in a healthy, vocal crowd.

London’s The Amazons, making their Glasgow debut in Sleazy’s, didn’t disappoint, as their jangly, intense sound and tales of junk food and misplaced affection brought with it comparisons with The Vaccines.

As the day rolled on the Art School became witness to some, if not all, of the best concerts of the day. The likes of Pronto Mama pulled in a huge crowd with their calypso themed trumpet driven melodies, whilst Holy Esque showed everyone just how far they have come in recent months with a set that eschewed ambition, drive and creativity.

Headliners White, taking to the stage at 9pm, more than lived up to the hype their recent gigs at Wickerman and Glastonbury have established within UK music circles. Leo Conde embodies the spirit of a young Bryan Ferry as their self-styled ‘pink noise’ turned the Art School into something akin to an 80’s high school reunion.

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Headliners White at the Art School

However, it was electronic outfit Crash Club who stole the show, Their midnight slot had Flat 0/1 bursting at the seams as they brought the festival to a thundering close. Flying beer, strobe lights and heavy riffs were aplenty as the band ripped through a blistering set high on emotion and confidence. It’s a matter of time before they themselves will be the name on everyone’s lips.

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Crash Club bringing the house down at Flat 0/1

A fantastic event which, like no other, highlights the health of the current UK music scene, placing the fan at its heart and providing the setting for some memorable gigs to leave even the most avid gig-goer waiting for next year.