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.
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.