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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 18 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 16
THE MUSIC LOUNGE
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Franz Ferdinand's bassist Bob Hardy looks forward to Seattle return

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

FRANZ FERDINAND
SHOWBOX SODO
April 24

Where did Franz Ferdinand go? That was the question lingering on the minds of even the most loyal of fans who follow the popular Scottish rock outfit. The band sort of disappeared from radar.

After two largely successful back-to-back albums in 2004 and 2005, the Grammy-nominated group slowed its pace significantly by producing just two more albums in an eight-year span. They toured, though not extensively. Individually, none of Franz Ferdinand's members - lead vocalist-guitarist Alex Kapranos, guitarist-keyboardist Nick McCarthy, bassist Bob Hardy, drummer Paul Thomson - committed themselves to any solo projects, nor did they collectively call it quits. They simply just took their time moving forward.

2014 finds the Mercury Music Prize winners back on the road, playing a limited string of dates across North America.

'We just finished a European tour, so we're well rehearsed at the moment,' said Hardy when reached by phone through a fuzzy connection at his Glasgow, Scotland residence.

The blond, bearded bassist is quick to note that long breaks between albums and tours may have trimmed Franz Ferdinand's fan base.

I'm sure we've lost some,' he admitted. 'It's quite possible we have. Sometimes you get a following when you're new and then they don't stick around anymore when you have another album. But then we have fans that have been following us for years that have come to every single show we play in their area. We can kind of recognize people in the crowd.'

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is the latest work by the UK four-piece, released quietly in August 2013. They introduced a few tracks from it to Seattle faithful in late 2012, when the acclaimed quartet played to a sold-out audience at The Showbox Market. For their upcoming performance at The Showbox SoDo, an upgrade in size, expect Franz Ferdinand to rely heavily on new material.

'At the moment, we're playing like 7 or 8 songs from the new record mixed with previous hits,' confirmed Hardy. 'It's a bit of a luxury having four albums now; we can mix it up. There are songs from our back catalog that are mixed in with the new songs.'

Of these new songs, Seattle concertgoers are likely to hear 'Right Action,' 'Illumination,' 'Evil Eye' and 'Bullet' at Thursday night's show - the latter tune being the fourth released single from the album. According to Hardy, the band will be on stage for approximately 90 minutes.

So what does he look forward to when coming to Seattle?

'The beer, the food, especially the seafood,' stated Hardy. 'I always like to go by the fish market over at Pike's Place, get some seafood.' He's also been known to shop at Byrnie Utz Hats specialty store while in town. 'I might have to go pick one up when I'm there,' he added.

Something else the bassist remembers well about the Emerald City is Nirvana, who were inducted a week ago into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He fondly recollects his favorite songs from the famed grunge trio.

'I was 13 when that happened (Kurt Cobain's suicide),' Hardy recalled. 'So I grew up listening to Nirvana and I liked a lot of their songs, but my favorites are maybe 'Heart Shaped Box' and 'All Apologies.' Everyone was listening to them, they were very big at the time. I do have awesome memories of them.'

Since his last visit, Gay marriage was legalized in Washington, and I didn't miss the opportunity to attempt booking Franz Ferdinand for my future wedding reception.

'We'll give you a really good deal,' Hardy told me with slight laughter, although I could tell he was totally serious. 'As long as you have a good rider. Maybe you can meet someone and get married in Scotland, and then we could all come.' Hardy was quick to point out that same sex marriage is now legal in his home country, as well.

Franz Ferdinand exploded from the get-go in 2004 on the strength of what has become their signature hit 'Take Me Out,' and I had to ask if they've ever left it off a set list during a show.

'Yes, we have,' affirmed Hardy. 'I think we just did that in Birmingham on this tour.' Indeed, the track was M.I.A. from several concerts in recent weeks.

As for new music beyond 2014, Hardy explained that it might be a while with this year mostly dedicated to batches of live performances.

'After this tour in the States, we have a little bit of a break and then we're playing festivals through the summer in Europe, and then we're going over to Japan and Southeast Asia in the autumn.'

It's quite possible the group won't be returning stateside in the near future, following their Thursday appearance, so fans should make plans to see them at The Showbox SoDo on April 24. At press time, tickets were still available at www.axs.com, priced at $31.50 ($34 day of show).

And for Hardy, it's the audience that's most important to him when playing on the road.

'The crowd makes all the difference to me,' he declared. 'We're quite lucky because our fans know all the songs and sing along with them, and we enjoy that a lot.'

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