Scottish indie-rockers Franz Ferdinand are back in top form with their self-produced fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, and its hit title track.
English-born rhythm guitarist-keyboardist Nick McCarthy - he grew up in Germany but met his bandmates in Glasgow - says the success of the new material is even sweeter given the group almost considered breaking up after the last tour for the last album, 2009's Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.
"We'd been together for eight years just touring constantly," says McCarthy, 38. "We always did too much I think. We were on the road all the time. And I think this record was kind of written like the first one (2004's Franz Ferdinand). It wasn't written on the go. It was written hanging out at home. We took a year off. I had a kid. And we were all sitting at home and writing music as a hobby really. And that's how we wrote the first one, just for the fun of it. And I think, yeah, you can really feel it. We all get on really well suddenly. It gets intense. It's like living together with someone like a student or something. 'I hate that guy just 'cause he stirs the tea the wrong way or something.' And you get to that point where little things just annoy you. And we all took a year off and after that it's fine. And then you can feel that in the music as well."
We caught up with McCarthy from New York City this week where Franz Ferdinand were playing the Hammerstein Ballroom after a memorable earlier show there.
"The last time we played there, I think we had soap wrestling on after," he says. "It was like some kind of male stripper night I think. They had two evenings booked."
Q. When you cross the border into Canada are audiences different than in the U.S.?
A. We love playing in Canada. We've always been received really well in Canada. We've always had really really good gigs. We did a very fun tour of a lot of smaller cities as well at one point. It's like England and Scotland a bit I think. People in Scotland like to have a bit more fun than the people in England. I feel a bit like that about the Canadians.
Q. Where did you write and record Right Words?
A. We did a lot of the writing in my studio, Sausage Studios, and that's just a room of weird and wonderful equipment, and we just try out things and write stuff and played through things in bits and bobs and then we recorded the band in (lead singer-guitarist) Alex (Kapranos)' studio in Scotland in the middle of nowhere which is really nice. He's got like an outhouse-shed kind of thing and he's got a really nice recording desk in there and we'd just go up there and record for a week and then go back down to London and write on and then go back up again and record. It was quite easy going and a lot of preparation. But very short recording ... There was one other thing we did on this record. We tried to write the songs as acoustic songs first, the way you get songs in a songbook or something, and you write them as that first, and they you play them as a band, practically do a cover of these acoustic songs.
Q. Did you say Sausage Studios?
A. Well, I grew up in Germany and I think it came from that. And then a friend of mine called it Sausage Studios and then everyone started calling it that.
Q. And does Alex's studio have a name?
A. It does actually. It's actually Black Pudding. He's going with the flow.
Q. And why do you live in London, when everyone else is in Scotland still?
A. Alex comes down a lot, he's got a girlfriend there ... And I'm in London 'cause I couldn't stand the weather in Scotland anymore to be honest.
Q. Your covers have ranged from Britney Spears' Womanizer to Donna Summer's I Feel Love? How do you choose them?
A. Sometimes we get asked to do them for like special radio shows, sometimes we just like the song. On the Donna Summer one, someone did a remix of one of our songs and they used the bass line from a Donna Summer song, from I Feel Love, over it, and we were like, 'Oh, we could combine this. That would be good wouldn't it?' And Britney Spears because it was so ridiculous. And we like pop music. It's kind of fun. It's kind of whatever we're just into.