Franz Ferdinand is about a week away from locking down the track list for its sophomore album, which will be released Oct. 4 by Domino/Epic. “We haven’t decided on a running order yet,” lead singer Alex Kapranos tells Billboard.com by phone from the studio. “We’ve been through about 25 songs altogether and we’re mixing 15 songs; of those 15, we’ll probably choose 12 or 13.”
Kapranos said he was confident the following tracks will end up making the album: “Do You Want To?” (the intended first single), “Walk Away,” “Turn It On,” “I’m Your Villain,” “Evil and a Heathen,” “This Boy,” “Well, That Was Easy,” “Outsiders” and “You Could Have It So Much Better.”
“We’re very much a rhythm-driven band,” Kapranos says. “We still want to make people dance, but we didn’t want to repeat the same beats. We did experiment with a lot of different rhythms.”
To that end, on the track “Outsiders,” the group piled into one room around drummer Paul Thomson. “He had this weird contraption of a drum kit where he was playing half with a tambourine in one hand and the floor tom between his legs — just to experiment with different ways of setting up,” Kapranos recalls.
But Franz Ferdinand was most intent on “capturing more of the energy we have as a live band,” Kapranos says. “I like the first record and the sound of it, but I’m not sure it completely captured that kind of unpredictability and rawness you have at a live concert.”
Kapranos admits a handful of cuts needed more attention than others, particularly “Walk Away.” “I wrote it on an acoustic guitar, just chords and a vocal melody,” he says. “We arranged it in so many different ways. We had some versions with just me sitting with a guitar, others with a full-on rock group like the sound of the first record. I even re-wrote the whole chord progression for the beginning of the song. But in the end, we came back to what was pretty much the original version we were working on when we went into the studio.”
“I’m Your Villain” was also “completely re-arranged. We even re-wrote the bass line and the chord progression.” Kapranos says he’d like to release these alternate versions someday, since “I always find it interesting to hear bands going off on different tangents.”
“Walk Away” is notable among the Franz Ferdinand canon, since according to Kapranos, “It probably wouldn’t have appeared on the first album. It’s more bare emotionally than anything on there. It’s not exactly a ballad, but it’s more of a ballad than we’ve ever written before.”
The new album will most likely not have a title, and will only be distinguishable from its 2004 predecessor by its color scheme. “There’s so many albums I have that I don’t refer to by their real titles,” Kapranos says. “The second Specials album is called ‘More Specials,’ but I always just call it ‘the second Specials album.’ I’m also quite interested to see what will happen, because I know people will choose their own name for it. It’s a little bit of an experiment.”
Franz Ferdinand’s 2004 self-titled debut reached No. 32 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 941,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The single “Take Me Out” reached No. 3 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart and became one of the more ubiquitous tracks of the past year.
“You don’t have ‘neds’ in America, but across the U.K., they’re young, vaguely loutish teenage kids who dress up in track suits and like causing a bit of a riot,” Kapranos says by way of introducing one of his favorite stories about the song’s popularity. “A friend of mine was on a train in Glasgow and there was a gang of neds running up and down the train, smashing stuff up and singing ‘Take Me Out.’ She was actually a bit stoned at the time as well, and she thought they were singing it directly at her! She felt extremely paranoid, like, how do they know [Franz Ferdinand are] my pals?”
The group will begin a North American tour in late September, one of the first few dates of which will be an appearance at the Austin City Limits festival. “We’re talking to a couple of bands but we can’t announce that yet,” Kapranos says of potential opening acts.
“We all used to spend so much time going to gigs, but when you’re on the road, you’re playing every night, so you don’t always get to see other bands playing,” he continues. “In fact, you probably see other bands less than you did before. So for us, it’s great to take out bands like Sons And Daughters, the Futureheads, the Kills or the Fiery Furnaces, because it was good fun to watch them every night.”