Andrew ‘Falco’ Falkous has a bullet point list of what the next few months hold for him. There’s a one-off Mclusky show at London’s Garage (3rd December). There’s the writing and recording of the next Future of the Left album to finish before a hopeful early 2016 release. Then there’s a third Christian Fitness record to finish. There’s a book to write, running to run and the hope that Newcastle don’t embarrass themselves in the Premier league. Then, after toying with the phrase “everybody”, there’s, “Peace and love for everybody in the world. They are my plans and my objectives. I’ve given them to you in order of priority, so I might not get around to that last one. It seems like quite an undertaking anyway. I might have to put that one on the backburner to the end of time.”
It is business as usual then.
From Mclusky, onto Future of the Left and now with the off-shot of Christian Fitness, Falco has been making very good music for the best part of 17 years. “Valid rock music is music where you can sense peoples personalities coming at you. Even bands like Suede, I don’t like Suede at all but that pretty much sounds like Suede. For me, there’s some fun, some silliness, and being yourself. I’m me in whatever band. I’ve tried to write songs differently with other people in the past but I always end up ruining it with my personality.” It’s not about trying to be clever. Across all his outlets, there’s a sense that music doesn’t have to take itself seriously, nor does it have to be thick.
“Everything’s meant to be funny but it’s not meant to be a joke. That’s the very thin line but if it is a joke, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve seen Mclusky and FOTL written about like they’re The Bloodhound Gang or a more fucking contemporary reference for a band who are an actual joke. If people take it like that, it’s not even their loss. They’re a totally different person and they exist on a totally different tectonic plate.” It’s that no nonsense assessment that’s earned Falco somewhat of a reputation as an angry frontman.
“It’s a weird thing for me because I hate the phrase ‘doesn’t suffer fools gladly’. No one suffers fools gladly. There might be a range of reactions appropriate to a situation but nobody is happy to be accompanied by a fool, apart from perhaps another fool. It’s funny to have this impression that I go around the world, engaging with it angrily all the time. Angrily making a sandwich. Angrily doing the dishes. Angrily telling your cats about your bike ride. It doesn’t quite work but I suppose, as with anything, there’s a moment of truth in the speaking.”
It’s Falco’s speaking that’s often the most distinctive part of the music. “People tend to see the lyrics as the hook for the band, I would hope it was a bit more than. The lyrics, for the most part, are written at the last second. They’re not afterthoughts, that would be an exaggeration, but it’s all about getting the music into a particular form and the words and subsequently the performance come from there.”
“Rock music is exciting. It moves your bones.” Influenced by whatever is happening at the time, making music is “an ongoing process. You just make it, then reflect on whatever you come into contact with. I suppose it’s valid when bands start with a manifesto but I always find that silly. You’re drawn to making music as a way of expressing yourself and that’s fine. It’s fine not to be ashamed of making music.”
“Future of the Left write a lot of songs. Even though we don’t get to rehearse much, we’ll come up with a lot of ideas. Not all of them are very good. Some rehearsals there’s a lot of bad songs but when it works, it’s loads of fun. We have loads of fun playing a song for two hours that never ends up near a record, which is as it should be really. Sometimes there’s a need to try and tie something to rock music to give it more of a cultural justification. I don’t think you need an extra excuse to be motivated by it.”
It’s a motivation that Falco has been able to indulge in more lately with his one-manned band, definitely not a solo project, Christian Fitness. Releasing his first album last year and following it up with this years ‘Love Letters In The Age Of Steam’, it’s a venture with a, “slightly different dimension. Future of the Left is dependent on the schedule of all the people involved whereas Christian Fitness is dependent on my schedule. With FOTL, even though I control it, it’s still a product of the people in the room playing and reacting. I hate to use the term organic, but it’s more natural. Christian Fitness songs are just formed by me mucking about on my own. Just sitting there and giving myself silly little missions, ‘the whole point of this song is to have a ridiculous key change that just doesn’t make sense but yet still provides a poppy listen.’ Trying to crowbar that into the creative process of several people is a little more problematic.”
Christian Fitness wasn’t bourne out of a creative frustration or the need for Falco to express himself outside confides of the band. Up until eighteen months ago, he’d just never had the technological capabilities to record at home. “Having that in the house and, because of things like that a tax rebate and the album last year, I’ve not had to have a job for the past twelve months which has been a fantastic experience. People talk about being rich but as far as I’m concerned I am rich because I don’t have to go and sit in an office for a bit. I’ve worked in offices for 15 years of my life and to spend a year or so not working or worrying about money is an amazing experience that not necessarily a lot of people get to have. Working on the things you love, that’s an amazing thing.”
Within a few weeks of ‘A Love Letter In The Age Of Steam’ being released, it had recouped all the money Falco had spent on it. “Everything I make now is actually money I make,” he explains before admitting feelings of guilt. “You’re made to feel as a musician, especially at the lower levels, when you make any money at all that, that isn’t right. ‘In this for the money are you, Richie rich?’ You get conditioned into that.”
From the scattergun introduction of ‘upset army’ (by all accounts an excellent name) through the sledgehammer skip of ‘3 speed limiters’ until the smirking refrain of ‘the psychic refrain’, Christian Fitness is an album of personality.
“I think it’s a really good record. It’s nice when people like it because it tells me I’m not going mad. Also, the more people that like it, the more they tell other people, the more it sells and the more money I can put back into the next one. It operates on that basis. When people say they genuinely don’t care about what people think of their music, you may believe them or you may say ‘we need to have you checked out’ because that’s almost a psychopathic response. I consider myself someone who doesn’t need that much validation but to suggest they need no validation at all, that’s bleak.”
Unafraid of speaking his mind or hiding behind motive and reason, Falco is just as candid with his dreams..
“Everytime you put out a record, even when you’re a kid, you always think ‘Yeah, we haven’t got a lot of money behind us but what if we’re that band that just happens because people loved it.’ You always think it. Every band thinks it at one stage or another. At least they fucking should. If they haven’t, they should fucking stop being a band. You always think it and at the back of your mind you always have this idea for every record. It’s not the aim but if someone suddenly offered you a yacht, you would say yes to the yacht even if you subsequently sold it. You hope it happens.
“For me, if I could double the amount I sold of the first Christian Fitness album, I would consider that a huge success. It’s as simple as that. I’d love for it to be successful. The biggest regret in my life, and generally speaking I’ve had a very good life, but I don’t get to play enough shows. The position we are in as a band is, we get offered a lot of shows but financially we just can’t make them work. Certainly a couple of members of the band need to make a tiny bit of money when we play shows because they live on financial knife-edges.” By money, Falco is talking about the equivalent of what they’d earn in a 9-5 rather than thousands of pounds a show. “If Christian Fitness was more successful and that ended up rolling into FOTL, that would be the best case scenario for me because it would lead to playing bigger shows.”
“I’m perfectly aware of what level I’m operating on. It’s a level that 99% of people who consider themselves, however slightly, musicians dream of operating on. In some ways I’ve been really lucky to get to this stage. In other ways, I’ve been really unlucky not to be playing in Division Two rather than the Unibond League. That’s just the way it goes. When you’re younger it’s ok to be bothered by that but as the years go by, you just start to watch it like you’re watching a gradually unfolding soap opera story about someone else. It’s quite funny to see how it goes.”