Future of the Left
Nathaniel Mehr and Theo Graham Brown 19/09/2006
It's over a year since Mclusky split up, and the world has since had its first glimpse of Future of The Left, the new project of former Mclusky members Jack Egglestone and Andrew Falkous. iShotTheDeputy's Theo Graham-Brown and Nathaniel Mehr spoke to a super-lean Falkous and found him frighteningly focussed and as engaging and lucid as ever, musing at times in a manner not unlike Martin O'Neil. Cardiff is a place like any other place in the United Kingdom. It has a Boots and a McDonald's, it has a large Primark. We are whisked away to a quiet pub garden and, in the searing heat and bright sunshine of a July afternoon, Falkous discusses the past, the present, and his new project, “Future of the Left”.
Questions: Mostly Theo Graham-Brown
Pictures: Entirely Peter Maxwell
Future of the Left - what's the name about?
It comes from reading an article, called “The Future of the Left”, in France - the article was about the future of the Left wing in France. But that's not what literally I took the meaning to be, as in the way the band's represented. It struck me straight away, and at first it seemed a bit too much but I really like it. I really like the fact that some people would listen to it and think we were saying we were in some way the future of left-field music. I really like the fact that people could actually believe that somebody could be that arrogant. If people like that, fuckin' bring it on.
I see the Mclusky website's gone down?
We stopped paying for it.
Is it true your old drummer Matt Harding tried to get a thousand pounds off you for the website?
What he did was, for the mclusky.com, it had been set up in his name - he said give me five grand. Then took the forum, and transferred it to his new band. Somebody tries to extort money out of you and you look at them in a different way, and I think he is scum floating about the rest of the world. When it comes down to money - it's the worst thing to fall out with people, but when it's not even about money, when it's about the gesture of money, that's even worse. 'Cos at no point did he realistically expect five grand 'cos (a) fuck you and (b) if you've got five grand to throw at penises then in my budget I'd have to be making millions to have that much spare. If I ever have a million pounds I'm gonna give him five grand.
He's in a new band now - Bugga.
Bugga with an “a”
Bugga with an “a”. Isn't that a bit pointless? I mean, couldn't you just use another name for the website?
When I got that e-mail I thought “oh fuck he's obviously gone and got mclusky.net and everything. I went online and got mclusky.net and thought “You stupid fuck”. If you're gonna try and get money from 9th Dan extortion then at least give them a produce. I could probably have mclusky dot fuckin' org if I wanted it. Occasionally I do get e-mails from people saying “Well my family name's Mclusky and I must say I'm appalled.” You never reply to people like that, you just put a little star on the inbox and whenever you're down you can just go and have a look.
The old website was great. Very thin on detail. There's too much information in some bands' websites, don't you think?
(in Robin Williams voice) “Do these people have a manager they should be saving it for the DVD extra” - I heard someone say that the other week - people do say stuff like that in the music industry. If you put too much information on the website, what are you gonna sell people? Some bands charge fans to look at pictures on their website.
But there's an arrogance about some of the excessive detail - why should anyone care what the bassist's favourite colour is? A lot of people have extraordinarily detailed websites and practise or play about once a year. It's just narcissism.
If they weren't doing that they'd be out stealing cars. I'm not trying to justify it - I've been in so many bands where the first rehearsal's in a pub “It'll be great, by December we'll be playing the Garage”.
If you believe it…
Belief isn't enough. Everybody can't be Bryan fuckin' Robson. Life ain't about desire, if it was everyone would get what they fuckin' wanted.
Especially if you're talking about his managerial career
I was talking about him as a player . Not this frightened-looking man jumping between lower Premiership clubs.
There were originally four in Future of the Left?
Originally a guy called Harold. From Jarcrew.
When I saw Jarcrew I was really blown away.
Their recordings are pretty good, fine, but not an accurate representation of how good they could be. I've seen them have average gigs but, when it all worked, it was incredible, exciting - as good as any band I've ever seen. I loved being on tour with them, 'cos they were like fascinated children. “Oh, we got sandwiches!” “Wow - I don't even like prawn.” Happy being in a band. Anyone who says being in a band is hard work is fuckin' demented. It's only hard work if you've never had a proper jobs.
The 4-piece songs from 2005, the demos - what's going to happen to them?
“Real Men Hunt in Packs” is maybe gonna be on the first record, but I worry as to how it will sound with the other material. It's so much of a departure…
There were some four-minute long songs in there….
Those songs aren't going anywhere anytime soon - they were like mutant strains of first generation ….they haven't kept up.
You've all got normal jobs until September, then after that it's gold-plated twatwagons. What's a twatwagon?
It's a mighty vehicle.
Full of pussy?
Twat is an idiot in this sense. Not the attractive genitalia.
I've been trying to change my laugh recently. People have commented on it - it does sound like a cross between Dr Hibbert from the Simpsons and Frank Bruno. I heard it on tape and I thought “This will not do.” I must have constructed this laugh from people I subconsciously admire. I wasn't aware that I had any kind of soft spot for Frank Bruno or Dr Hibbert.
Essentially Dr Hibbert is a Cosby laugh?
No that's more of a bouncy….
Oh okay. So you're somebody impersonating somebody impersonating someone else. That's even better.
Yeah I sound like a wrong….unimpersonation of, of, of a phallus. So I've been trying to make by laugh basically more high pitched. Can we sit in the sun? Just for fifteen minutes I know it's ridiculous but I get so little time to sit in the sun.
Well it's England, you know? (we're in Wales, Theo) Sun in England is, you know…. I have these Scottish genes that means I don't like the sun. Only got sunstroke once though, Glastonbury '99. Heat stroke.
You couldn't pay me enough to go to a festival. Four fuckin' days without a shower? Fuck off. The thing with me is I'm allergic to deodorant.
(Theo produces product, as if in a television commercial) This is the stuff I use. It's mineral-based.
My God. My solution is I'm not particularly stinky man anyway - I just make sure I'm clean. 'Cos I sweat a heroic amount.
This won't stop you sweating, it just makes the sweat not smell as bad.
There's this Magicool stuff which you spray on your face. I find the idea of being cool, in a temperature sense, appealing, but I'm not sure if I want to go to the extent of spraying something on my face.
The banter at the ULU gig (featured on the Mcluskyism compilation CD) was great.
I've seen a couple of things online where people have said things like - “oh you could tell the tension in the band”. Those people are fuckin' idiots. They are the kind of people who think music's gotta have a story behind it to be interesting. If it's any good it's just a bunch of guys playing some fuckin' songs and giving their all. That was a really fuckin' good show. If people wanna read into the impending destruction and doom of the band into any of the exchanges with fuckwits in the crowd then, they've just got too much in their minds…
Why did you choose that gig for the CD (Mcluskyism)? Was it the only recorded one?
There was the Wireless festival in Australia, really good show for a festival. We were gonna use a recording of a song called “See them smell them sign them” but there was a lot of complications - the Australian Public Service broadcaster because of money issues. I can understand that's the way the institutions have to work but it's a shame, I really would have liked some of those songs on there. There's about another five songs, six songs that would have been there. Particularly “Friends Stoning Friends” on the Adam Walton show; it's low fidelity, it's not a perfect, sonically-pure Albini recording but it's just fuckin' incredible. If you listen to that and don't like it, you're not going to like our band.
I fuckin' love talking. Most musicians don't understand, they think they've got to talk about songs in a very traditional way: “And then the middle eight was written, and then I got home, and I realised that the shower thing which you switch on, you know the red thing - it was actually on when it was off." I mean you know, when I was at university, I knew this guy called John, who sat and wrote, on his acoustic guitar, a concept album about the life of a fly. And then explained it in minute detail….
I find at acoustic gigs they often spend a long time introducing songs.
“I was watching Little House on the Prairie with my trousers round my ankles, wanking furiously…..”
The thing I hate more than that is encores by shit bands who aren't even the headline act. Especially if, say, I'm waiting to go on. So you brought 16 people with you tonight, good on you. Your brand of mediocre, mor rock is clearly reaching people. But you didn't manage to play apparently one of your best songs in 30minutes, and you decide you'll keep us waiting a bit longer, while you play another fucking song, and drive is to insanity. I hate that. It's disgusting.
It's usually the most deluded people are the worst. There's a part of me, as much as I detest those guys' music, bands can't help being bands. The problem is the people who buy their records and support them. It's worth Googling, one guy who's just been appointed head of one major record label, I can't remember his name and I can't remember which label it is, - he's come from the cheese industry, which tells you everything you need to know. The bands are just agents who go out into the world and suck money from idiots. If you're a record company, you put a couple of million into ten bands, one of them will go massive and you'll get all the money back. Start again. Here's a bit of money for you, a bit of money for you - and if doesn't work, you're fucked. I don't think that's gonna be much of an issue for the new band. I don't see anybody thinking we could sell five million records. Even though my wild and lustrous hair will obviously add to our appeal.
What would be a fantastic thing to do would be to start a show by smashing up all the instruments. 1 2 3, 4, smash smash smash and then you leave. And see what people say. Doubtless the NME would talk about it like it was the second coming of the Jesus & Mary Chain. If you did something that wanky, there would be people out there who would fuckin' love it. If you descended so far into the heart of darkness to actually do that…
If we're seeing this new band as a business, which you need to sustain so it has a chance to become a proper band, rather than just a hobby you fit in after work, part of that business plan, if you were being cynical, would be to go out in Camden one night and deck two fuckin' second-rate indie celebrities.
Just like Larrikin Love. Shittest band you've ever seen in your life. They ripped a toilet out of the floor. In anger, apparently, in protest at the fact that the DJ was a Northerner. Apparently.
With Mclusky were you ever asked to do anything you weren't comfortable with?
I can remember doing an in-store show once, and then saying “I'm never doing that again, that was a pain in the arse”. It was in this tiny little German indie shop and it was funny for a bit, but it just wasn't fun, and I just said this is not something we want to do. You've gotta be realistic, y'see - you can just be contrary for its own fuckin' clever about being deliberately obscure, and by playing the game if you have to do things which make you feel uncomfortable then yeah, you're definitely gotta have your business head on. If a photo of me, like I said, with my wild lustrous flowing hair makes some fuckwit go out and buy my record, to I fucking care? However you get to the music, within reason, is irrelevant.
Would you let your music be used in an advert?
The short answer would be that it wouldn't be our choice, 'cos we've signed a publishing deal. As far as I'm aware… and frankly, the publishing company would do it straight away. In most cases it's got nothing to do with the band. If it was something you were desperately uncomfortable with, you could protest and I guess take a company to court, and get them to stop doing it. I mean maybe it's different for an artist like Moby…
Moby said in an interview he thinks there's some significance in the fact that his date of birth is 11th September - he thinks there's some eery significance in that. One in 365 people on Earth have that date of birth….
One in 365 musicians….
You played your first gig last night, a secret gig in Cardiff….
This person, probably an NME journalist, went up to Kelson after the gig and said “So has Andy told you to calm down a bit on stage?” And Kelson was like “No, I've just got to play a bass guitar now.” 'Cos Keslon's whole thing was he was the singer /keyboardist was he'd just assault the audience, run around. It was really good fun. But I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have. Nerves at first, then excitement. Plus Mitch (roadie from Mclusky days) wasn't there. Once of my most amazing memories is him walking down a street in Aberdeen dressed in a kilt, in a tight leather top. Probably the only black guy there who wasn't working the door. Nobody gave him any shit - that gives testament to the physical aura of the man. It sounds very Axel Rose but….some people are very practical, I'm not someone you wanna rely on in a DIY crisis.
What's a DIY crisis?
Shelving unit's fallen, your mother's coming to stay and she's bringing with her her collection of valuable porcelain pigs that she cannot be without. She needs them by the bed….
She can keep them in the bag she brought them in
You're mother's psychotic and without those pigs she's probably die. Of loneliness. Those pigs remind her of….dead relatives. Anyway the band…. There's three of us. Average height is 5'11.
The set is quite short.
The first shows we've been doing have been about 22, 24 minutes. By September we should have that up to just under half an hour. When you go to see rock bands, twenty minutes, when you don't know the music, is the ideal to see if they are any good. Towards the end of Mclusky there were so many songs people wanted to hear, and so many we wanted them to hear.
Are there any bands around at the moment that you like?
One day, I guess, when the band isn't the most centrally import thing in my life, I can get round to being a fan like I was when I was a kid. There are bands I really like - I love Les Savy Fav. I guess if I heard a band and thought they were completely fuckin' amazing, the need for me to make music would be gone. You make music you want to fuckin' hear - what kind of musician makes music they don't want to hear? To the people involved in the band it's a serious concern - it really is, and this term can be hijacked or misused, it really is all being done for the art. It's a very simple brief, to make music you love as much as possible. I think there's too many people in bands who can't articulate that even to themselves. And y'know, there's a lot of people in bands who couldn't really give a fuck about the kind of music they play. As long as there's chicks at the show and, y'know.
Jarcrew were good though…
Jarcrew were fantastic. One of the best live bands I've ever seen. There's a tendency sometimes…people patronise British bands when they're any good - “Oh they could play with some American bands” - fuck off. Jarcrew were as good live as Shellac. That's something that really winds me up. If there's one thing about the whole non-coverage that Mclusky had, I don't take any of it personally, and a lot of the things, the factors which led to us being ignored - partly the way we looked at times, partly the fuckin' quote unquote “abrasiveness”, whatever the fuck that means, of the band. The only thing which I really firmly believe is that if we were American we would have sold half a million records. I believe that. If “Lighstaber Cocksucking Blues”, especially just a song with that title, had been released by an American band, it would've been single of the week in fuckin' everything. I might be wrong, but I believe that 100 fuckin' percent.
This interview orginally appeared on www.ishotthedeputy.comWho kindly contributed it for publication on GIITTV.