Interview with Future of the Left’s Andrew Falkous
America's left a deep impression on the British band—socially, politically, and superficially through celebrity culture.
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.