Okay, let’s just backup a little here. The geographically Welsh Future Of The Left, née mclusky, are well known and loved in Australia for their idiosyncratic musical lacerations, and the scalpel-sharp wit of their frontman. And that love is heartily requited by the band. (Youtube them if you’re new to all this; it’s quicker.) Hence the aforementioned annual tour.
And having had a fairly extensive line-up change last year – losing founding member Kelson Mathias and gaining two new members, second guitarist Jimmy Watkins and replacement bass player Julia Ruzicka, joining Falco and drummer Jack Egglestone – this year the now four-piece were keen to get a new album out before the tour.
But for one reason or another – “the vagaries of studio availability; our own availability in between jobs and/or job searches and also, you know, the crushing rhythms of everyday life” – that didn’t happen. Instead, the group have just released a six-track EP, Polymers Are Forever, which will serve as recorded cementing of the new line-up until the album proper, The Plot Against Common Sense, appears in early 2012.
A record reward: singles, EPs, albums
“The whole idea behind doing the EP, aside from showcasing a song like Polymers Are Forever [which will appear on the album], is to excite people,” says Falco, prosaically. “In the sense that if those five other songs weren’t good enough to make the cut how good is the actual record,” he clarifies.
“And I’m very, very excited by the record. I – and we – think it’s very, very special. And maybe part of that is the time it’s taken to get to this stage, and the psychological and financial struggle it’s taken. When we finish this record it’s gonna feel like a reward.”
Hopefully fans also feel rewarded and will reward the band, in turn, with cash monies. Although Future Of The Left/Falco fans tend to be notoriously devoted and somewhat rabid in their devotion, so it may be a moot point. But as a sign of what’s to come, the EP has been received pretty well. The title track, after an opening that will clear your sinuses, is insanely catchy, like all Future Of The Left’s singles. Although, as Falco notes, “it’s not a single per se: it’s a bit too long and the start is a little bit weird. The end coda is quite single-y but it takes over two minutes to get there so the average attention span of a radio listener, or indeed a radio programmer, isn’t going to take them that far.”
“The album has some bizarre transgressions on it; it has a couple of quite straight-up pop numbers, it has some stupidly heavy nonsense, it has some bizarre a capella breakdowns. It has what I can only describe as an attempt to metal-up the B-52s.”
If Polymers is too “weird” to be a single the band have “at least three songs on the record that [they] consider to be singles in the more traditional sense”. Keep in mind that this is “traditional” in the Future Of The Left sense; and “singles” in the same. While Falco admits there have been times, in the existence of both this band and mclusky, where he and his bandmates have thought ‘we need to write a single’ he also notes that “if you go into a rehearsal with that mindset you come out with a massive pile of shit”.
Instead, he says, “what you owe to the songs is simply to let them come out and fulfil whatever personality they say they should have, without being a total hippie disaster about it. In a lot of bands, I guess, somebody will write a riff and everybody will go ‘what key is that in’ and then play along in a pre-determined way. We have a rule that if somebody writes something nobody’s allowed to see what they’re playing; you’ve gotta play by ear.
“And that, at times, creates some awful, awful, bastard mistakes. And some awful noise. But you’ve gotta be prepared to fuck up. That’s the whole thing with writing and being creative. You can’t be scared to sound ridiculous. I mean most of the first lines I sing for songs are complete baloney. But that can’t be factor. You’ve just gotta walk up to the mic and the first thing that comes into your head you’ve just gotta give it a go, because that’s what rock ‘n’ roll is.”
A taste of what’s to come
He pauses. Then shifts tack slightly, asking: “You feel the EP works well as an taster for the album?”
As a biased superfan, my answer is yes. Not having heard the full album though, I can’t realistically comment. I have heard several of the album tracks, however, and can say this: we’re in for an amazing, tumultuous, riotous ride. Robocop 4: Fuck Off Robocop is as harshly demented and wonderful as it sounds, continuing a trend previously continued in Lapsed Catholics. City of Exploded Children, begun before the London riots but finished after (“perhaps we can be accused of surfing the zeitgeist. Perhaps not.”) is dreamlike and nightmarish all at once, as it rolls into a mesmeric marching coda.
Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman confused me for a brief moment, as I thought iTunes had jumped to Nirvana. Falco’ll probably excoriate me on the internet for saying that, but you listen to it and tell me the opening drum roll isn’t reminiscent of the same in Breed. (That’s by no means a bad thing, mind – shut your hipster face and admit it: Nirvana were great). In the rest, Sheena is punchy and pugnacious.
And I Am The Least Of Your Problems, which the band ‘released’ last year to the internet in demo form, has been retained almost as is – “slow, and nasty and big” – with only the drums re-recorded.
FOTL vs the B-52s
“I had to be persuaded by my bandmates,” Falco says of the latter. “It wasn’t instantly my favourite. I thought it was a little bit too basic. But the album has some bizarre transgressions on it; it has a couple of quite straight-up pop numbers, it has some stupidly heavy nonsense, it has some bizarre a capella breakdowns. It has what I can only describe as an attempt to metal-up the B-52s.”
He’s on a roll now. “The B-52s are a band that I always prefer the idea of to the reality of. That idea I have in my head and my heart of the B-52s is of a very exciting party hosted by some very strange people who don’t just want to touch you. And I’ve being playing around with those vocal ideas a lot. I hope that doesn’t sound too disturbing because it’s still done within the definitive paradigm of what we do as a band.”
Disturbing isn’t the word I would use.
“We get people coming to see us – hardcore kids, wearing rucksacks, dancing around in the pit – who would be horrified by any mention of the B-52s, because their association of them is with Loveshack, whereas anybody who knows anything about anything knows that the first B-52s album was very, very strange, a little bit repetitive in places and one of the best albums ever released.”
Big in Australia
So, um… yeah. Expect the album to be something else altogether. In the meantime, get a taste for it with the Polymers Are Forever EP, and that upcoming annual summer tour. “We’re very, very proud to continually do well in Australia,” Falco says. “There’s a notion – a rather snobby notion – in Britain that any band can go to Australia and do well.”
Like being big in Japan?
“Big in Japan. Precisely. But if you look at a band like Biffy Clyro, they’re huge over here. I mean, they don’t quite have their face on money yet but in Australia they play the same size venues as us. And that’s an incredible thing.”
Not that Falco wants to be as big as Biffy Clyro. He thinks The Corner is the perfect sized venue, and is aware that even Corner prices, 40 or 45 dollars a ticket or whatever, “is a lot of money to go and see a rock show. That’s more than I’ve ever paid; it’s more than I could possibly afford! So we really do focus on making that show everything. And without being too sentimental, I dearly hope that comes across on the stage.”
Always Falco. Always.