Andrew “Falco” Falkous has been making noise for the better part of fifteen years now, first as frontman for legendary Welsh rock misanthropes mclusky and currently in the same role for the more streamlined but no less intense Future of the Left, now featuring new guitarist Jimmy Watkins and bassist Julia Ruzicka alongside longtime drummer Jack Egglestone.
Their new album The Plot Against Common Sense is many things: a scathing appraisal of a world plagued by chaos yet numbed by the mindless effects of pop culture, a blistering dose of post-punk reminiscent of both nineties mosh pit rock and headier underground stuff like The Fall; a surprisingly effective argument for the punk-ness of synthesized keyboard horns. The group played a brief run of shows in New York last week, culminating with a lively set at Generation Records in the West Village, after which Falco and I ducked into a nearby sushi joint for a quick chat. He was cool and discursive; I found myself somewhat sleep deprived and Adderall tweaked, several times nearly managing to swallow the plastic nub on the back of my pen. We talked about the joys of sleep, the lasting appeal of America’s busted hymen and naming your band after Hitler.
Mass Appeal: I cornered you after a show in Williamsburg a couple years ago. I was like, a tad overly reverential maybe.
Andrew Falkous: (Laughs)
I mean, I wasn’t crazy or anything.
AF: If you weren’t crazy – ’cause I remember, there were two girls in particular that night, were very crazy to the point of, one girl looked me straight in the eye as I stood by the merch table and asked me if a particular song was about her.
Yeah, that’s kind of another level.
AF: I actually had an incident towards the end of mclusky, there’s a song on the first mclusky record called “She Come In Pieces”? Which is a very simple lyrical allusion—I always thought a girl or a partner comes to you in pieces of a personality as opposed to all in one girl. And this particular character came up to me and said – there was a famous rail crash in Britain a few years ago at a place called Potters Bar? So the Potters Bar rail crash, and he said: “is that song about my girlfriend who died at the Potters Bar rail crash.”
AF: And that’s one of the situations where you’d like to have security, who are working the venue, so you can have the psychopath removed.
The name of your band sounds political, but mostly when you reference politics it’s in more of an offhand, casual way. Do people who aren’t as familiar with it ever expect you to be Rage Against The Machine or something?
AF: I lie to the left, and so by coincidence does everybody in the band. But—I could not for a second ally myself with a particular political party or ideology, because in doing so one compromises one’s integrity and also those little fine-tuned parts of a personality which make a person a person.
The band name was chosen because… it was a band name that didn’t suck to high heaven. Easily the most difficult thing for me about being in a band is a band name. Song titles—to use the British jargon—piece of piss. Writing songs—all work, but if you put in the love and effort, inevitably it works. But a band name, something that represents the whole deal and doesn’t embarrass you, is really an accomplishment. After a year of looking, I was reading an article in The Guardian, which is the traditional, soppy, socialist, left-lying paper in Britain—
I’m familiar, yeah.
AF: And there was an article about the Future of the Left in France. And I went, “There’s the band name.” And one of the guys who was in the band at the time, this guy called Harold who didn’t make it into the gigging manifestation of the band said, “That’s not a good name for a band.” And I said, you know what, it’s a lot better than your idea, which was- Liquid Hitler. Every idea he came up with involved Hitler at some time…
Were you guys called Dead Redneck at one point?
AF: Yeah, Red Deadneck. Yeah, and also we played under the name The Mooks of Passim, literally, The Fools of the Past. Yeah, but it was much easier to come up with comedy names. I really wanted to be in a band at one point called The Trojan Death Warriors of Camelot… that never quite worked out.
1"Whereas in Britain, part of our miserable, moaning culture means that we are, and maybe part of this is born of the class system- but maybe this is born of a natural, national propensity to just moan the fuck on about stuff-" Andrew Falkous
You guys have a pretty Brit-centric viewpoint at times, but you yourself have been through America at least half a dozen times or so. At this point, is there anything that still especially amazes or confounds you about American culture?
AF: Well, I used to go out with an American girl. One thing that really interests me, not just about her and her friends, but about people I’ve known in America in general is: the thing which defines America to an outsider, is the idea that you can achieve anything you want to achieve. This is the most fantastic thing about American culture, but this is also the most poisonous thing. I have a friend who played bass in, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead—a guy called Jay—and he said something which probably represents the positive aspects and negative aspects of that mindset.
He said that when you’re young, you’re taught that you can have everything you want. You can be that rock star. You can be that sportsman, you can succeed in the business of your choice. But what he was really interested in, were people of his age, his peers, who it was becoming apparent to them that those things they’d been promised to them, that would be theirs, and all they had to do to work for it, they weren’t theirs. So I think, disappointment comes late to Americans; realization comes late to Americans.
-we expect everything to fail… but one thing I will say about the States is that there is still a glamor to it, to somebody from Britain.
We’re still impressing somebody.
AF: The sense of an untapped territory, I wouldn’t go so far as a virgin territory—this hymen has been broken several times over, but there’s still a magic to it. At the end of the day, it’s more wonderful to a British band to play in a show in Madison [Wisconsin] than in Cheltenham in Britain.
Speaking of broken hymens-
Now there’s the beginning of something.
(Launches into a pointless digression about 9/11 related barroom graffiti) Sorry! Getting off track a little.
AF: Well, the best interviews are conversations, as opposed to, “What’s the future of Future of the Left?” So don’t worry about that.
A friend of mine visited England last year, and when I asked him what it was like, the first thing he said was, “Man, they’re even more obsessed with celebrities than the United States.”
AF: That’s probably true. You gotta bear in mind, it’s a small island. Everybody is on top of each other, literally and metaphorically, and there’s no escape. Even though we have hundreds of channels, we have like five terrestrial channels. And a Russell Brand is a big star and, uh—
AF: Inescapably so, yes. There’s more of an option to be exposed to a greater range of twats over here. Whereas we really have no escape. I mean I don’t have an escape, because I simply don’t watch these programs. But we are prisoners in a sense, of even a man who dresses like some kind of a gymnastic pirate.