What does Future of the Left do when they’re not playing music? You’re a pretty intense guy. What do you do to wind down? Do you have a favorite lozenge?
AF: I run, I play football, I watch and write comedy. Jimmy has started doing stand-up recently—and very well—because he has no shame.
He’s a funny dude.
AF: Yeah, and he has no shame at all. I’m a little more studied and reserved in my approach, it would have to be said. He’s a guy who will go on to have success because he had unbelievable confidence and charisma. Um, but- I run. I run, and I go to sleep. Looking forward to sleep is even better than looking forward to food. And for me—the way rock music works—I love rock music, or rather, I love playing and writing rock music. I don’t love a lot of it that I hear, but rock music for me, and sex drugs and rock and roll, are sorry seconds to food and sleep. And when I’m not on stage shouting at people, I’m attempting to be as calm as possible. And when I’m not on tour, I’m looking for work (any kind of work) to subsidize my music, which I regard as my habit.
Yeah, what do you do, man? Do you have day jobs?
AF: Just any kind of temporary office work, anything menial.
Are they ever like – there’s a dude who’s a temp, and they’re like- “oh, that’s the guy from Future of the Left.” Do they give a shit?
AF: It’s happened to me before, but obviously you can spend some time at offices and stretch your sights to fuckin’ sort out some Excel spreadsheets for them, and nobody knows who you are; I’ve walked into jobs before where people have fainted, but I’m still makin’ only ten dollars an hour.
The ten dollar barrier… it’s hard to break.
AF: It is hard to break, it’s even harder to cope with. The way it works, if you look into my CV, the only way you would end up with such gaps in your employment history is if you’ve been in a touring rock band or been in prison. And this is the life I’ve chosen, and I’m perfectly happy to accept it. I could just do with having enough money every year to pay tax, that’s all.
We’re going over…
AF: You’re fine, once somebody comes in and tells us to fuck off we’ll go.
A lot of your recurring lyrical motifs seem to involve the physical form: bodies, animals, violence. Is that a side effect of being at and playing a lot of rock shows?
AF: I mean, it’s been pointed out to me before, but I have no plan or design beyond just using words. I think certainly with the first two records. The first record was just… there was never any plan on Curses, there were just singular songs which occasionally had singular themes, just words for the sake of there being words. Travels with Myself and Another, I suppose, because of the situation we were all going through at the time, but also because it was interesting, was loosely it turned out, about the role of masculinity, or so called masculinity in any kind of modern epoch.
There’s a lot apocalyptic imagery on The Plot Against Common Sense: penguins standing on charred earth, environmental disaster, exploded children. It’s like the world is ending and everyone is just watching bad films. Is that kind of theme intentional? Is there stuff you want to write vs. stuff you happen to write?
AF: Well, there’s songs that you want to write, but… the second that you deliberately try to address a theme, is the second that it sounds forced and is crowbarred. Musically and lyrically, there is no plan. For example: we’ve had the song title “Robocop 4—Fuck Off Robocop” for decades, because it’s self-evidently a really great title, and I really truly felt, in the very splinters of my bones that I had a song that sat with that title, and didn’t do it any kind of injustice. But, there’s never a plan with the band. The only criteria is: does it work, and does it excite everybody who’s playing it. And beyond that, no.
I always look at records as being documents of a band in a particular moment, as opposed to documents of a particular moment. I think coincidentally, this record, at least in our own terms, and I’m not talking about “for our generation.” I’m not a cunt. In our terms, for the people we are, it happens to be both.
How is Jack?!
AF: How is Jack? Jack is Jack. ‘Twas always thus. He will drum, and one day he will stop drumming, and until that point, he will drum.
He’s a good drummer. He’s fuckin’ inventive.
AF: I’ve been playing in bands with Jack now for nine years and the good thing about Jack is he plays and writes with very little ego. He comes up with drumbeats and I say, mate that’s a great but you just need to take out that second tom hit and we’ve got something, and he’ll do that straight-away. But the way he plays is very lyrical. They’re hooks in themselves; we write around hooks. I think he’s an incredibly underrated drummer, and for years I’ve been preparing myself for when a very, very big band comes out of nowhere and offers him a show-stopping an amount of money to go and drum with them. And if that time happens, we’ve lived in poverty for so long I will not be able to begrudge him the opportunity.
AF: Fuckin’. A.
3"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.