On album number five, Future of the Left find peace - but there's always room for the snarling truth.
“It’s just nice to make music,” starts Andy Falkous. “Just standing in a room and making some loud sounds with some friends is pretty much the way to go with life in general I think.”
It’s a lifestyle that’s resulted in Future Of The Left’s fifth album ‘The Peace and Truth of Future Of The Left’. The record is a more streamlined attack than 2013’s ‘How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident’ but is still a hulking, unpredictable beast. A fully consuming escape that takes you away from the white noise of reality and into an abrasive, jarring and swinging new world. “Anything that has as many twists and turns, you perhaps shouldn’t be able to describe in a sentence,” he ventures. “It just sounds like a band, as ridiculous as that sounds. It’s a bit of a pet hate for me when bands talk up their new record and slag off their old one by implication. They’re just two different records, I’ve listened to them back to back and I really like them both.”
Inspired by “everything going on” around them, there was never really a conversation about direction or aim. “It was just the way the songs were coming out. The stuff that works, self-evidently works and the stuff that doesn’t work so well, doesn’t work so well. As glib as that sounds, that’s exactly how it works. If you trust your own judgment, then that’s that.” Future Of The Left is the result of the chemistry between the members in the room. Music isn’t created with the listener in mind. “If you write a song and someone really likes it, that’s great but nah, no.”
“As much as I’m usually reluctant to use words like this because they can simplify records and make them sound cliche, it’s a very intense record. There’s less variety on it. The last record was very colourful and covered a lot of ground and it worked really well for it but with this record, there seemed to be a sound to it. The whole record, by virtue of how it was recorded, sounds like a live band in the room and then me sticking me vocals on afterwards. That’s it.”
With guitarist Jimmy Watkins stepping down from the band, the dynamic between Julia Ruzicka, Jack Egglestone and Andy shifted. “Us being a three-piece means we can do more stuff with timing. You can turn more precisely because there are less working parts to worry about.” There are relative strengths and weakness to having three and four members and Future Of The Left have gained something through loss, not that they discussed it before going into the studio to record.
The band “only started thinking about writing this record in May just because of everything that’s been going on in life in general. Jack’s a father two times over and that kind of thing tends to have a large disruption and Julia works in a different city so, we’re lucky, I don’t think we’d rehearsed for maybe seven months before we had one in May.” After a run of festivals, the band rehearsed once a week from August and “just wrote some songs. It was dead fun and dead easy. There are bad rehearsals where nothing happens but that’s part of the game but, for the most part, it’s just loads of fun. I can’t think of any deeper way to describe it. When it goes well, which is does often, it’s just fun and when you’ve done it for long enough, even those bad rehearsals are part of the process. You’re doing work even when you don’t know you’re doing work. Every time you practice, you’re getting better in some way.” That blood and guts approach was carried over into shaping the album.
“What gets left behind is stuff that you get halfway through and you just go ‘nah’. What’s the point in finishing a song you don’t really like? We had two songs, which we wrote for the album, which we were pretty sure were going to make it on but when it came to record them, they just seemed really flat and normal.” An accompanying mini album 'To Failed States and Forest Clearings' will be released alongside ‘The Peace and Truth…’ “which is a little more colourful and for the most part, we wouldn’t be able to do them justice live. There’s a little bit more keyboard or they’re more tricky and ornate in the vocal department. It’s more a collection of songs as opposed to the mood of what we were writing for three or four months. The album is a cohesive work that can all be played live together and has a good, slow funkiness to it.”
“The album’s quite confusing for me because there’s a lot of songs where, we’d be recording and mixing the album and we’d get to the end of a song, turn to each other and ask, ‘how did that song start again?’” That sense of displacement isn’t born from a boring journey though. From the opening howl of ‘If AT&T Drank Tea, What Would BP Do’, through the stomping lip-curl of ‘Back When I Was Brilliant’ until the rhythmic riot of ‘No Son Will Ease Their Solitude’, ‘The Peace and Truth of Future of The Left’ doesn’t let up. “There’s a certain intensity to it, which is at once hopefully enriching and confusing.”
Launched with a crowd-funding campaign, the band hit their target for the record within three and a half hours, shaving a full ninety minutes off their previous personal best. They’re also set to play their biggest ever headline show at London’s Electric Ballroom to celebrate the album’s release. Eleven years in, and Future Of The Left are still swelling. Andy ventures, “it’s a challenge to not, not grow. It gradually sinks away because people who like a band die or they get other interests or they didn’t like the last record as much so, to maintain what I may respectfully term as a fanbase, I think would be an achievement. I managed to depress myself recently by reading Kill Your Friends by John Niven which is fine, it’s a good book but it’s an incredibly depressive indictment of how the music industry is run, albeit on levels far beyond anything we’ve ever had to deal with. I just... it’s good that people like to see the band. I wish that some shows could have a lot more people ‘cos then I’d have to spend less time looking for part time work, but that’s fine. That’s just the way life is, everybody has things they’d change.”
“Sometimes it can be really helpful and instructive to be in different jobs where you meet people for whom music isn’t as important in their lives, to see how that works,” he continues, glass-half-full. “Sometimes it’s a really good thing and sometimes it’s a reminder about why you escape and spend your own time escaping into a different world. The problem for a band sometimes is that it doesn’t have that much of an angle. Some guys on stage playing songs, it’s not very inspiring. No one’s a freedom fighter, no ones survived a bloody civil war and no ones just broken up with a bandmate. We keep trying to create artificial discord but it doesn’t work. Maybe it should be mandated that every band is made up of people who are already dyed in the wool enemies. Everyone puts their name into a big hat so you end up with better stories,” but Future Of The Left are content with theirs.
“I just hope the record gets listened to by people and if they then decide they don’t like it, that’s entirely up to them. I’m really happy with the record and I’m excited to be playing some proper shows for the first time in a while but I’m not overly optimistic that the record will be heard by enough people to please my eternal soul but there we are, that’s life.”
Taken from the April issue of Upset - order your copy here. Future of the Left’s album ‘The Peace and Truth of Future Of The Left’ is out now.