Doing It For The Franz: Alex Kapranos's T Memories

Since they shot to fame five years ago, Glasgow's <b>Franz Ferdinand</b> have become veterans of T in the Park. Frontman <strong>Alex Kapranos</strong> explains to <strong>Gillian Watson</strong> why they keep coming back

Feature by Gillian Watson | 26 Jun 2009
  • Franz Ferdinand

Alex Kapranos, charismatic frontman of local art-rock heroes Franz Ferdinand, is excited. The Glaswegian quartet’s return to the Main Stage at T in the Park in the year of Homecoming reminds him of another previous homecoming for the band. “It was the first big gig we did in Scotland after our first record came out and the welcome that we got is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. It was such an amazing, uplifting experience.”

So what’s so special about the weekend at Balado? “T in the Park’s one of the best festivals in the world, [and] it’s been the best crowds for us,” says Kapranos. “You talk to different bands around the world, and that’s one of the festivals that always gets mentioned. People really enjoy playing that one. It does have a different kind of atmosphere to other festivals. Some are quite laid-back, but there’s something about [T] - it’s really intense, there’s a great energy there.”

The band tailor their performance to suit the T crowd: “There’s such a massive amount of energy, [so] you perform in a completely different way.” According to Kapranos, “a gig depends on two performances: the performance of the band and the performance of the audience. It’s obviously a different kind of performance that you get from a massive festival.” He acknowledges that the festival set has to be a bit of a crowd-pleaser; there’s less room for B-sides and obscurities to diversify the set, as “not everybody at a big festival knows you as well as your hardcore fans do”.

So how do the band keep things fresh? “We like to leave a certain amount of space for something unpredictable [at] every gig - spaces in songs where you don’t quite know what’s going to happen, so that you’re on your toes. ‘Cause if you know exactly what every step is going to be, it’s going to become plodding and boring. You have to make sure there’s a bit of an edge to it.” He doesn’t get tired of playing the old material, provided it’s in the right context. “If I was playing only our first ever songs five years later, then I’d be pretty pissed off, but if a song’s a good song, then of course you don’t mind playing it… [We’re] certainly not one of those bands that has that perverse resentment of the material that introduced them to the world – that’s crazy.” He issues an important reminder to the novice festival band: “You have to remember you’re not just playing the gig for yourself as a performer”.

Franz Ferdinand play T in the Park, Balado on 10 July.