News Podcast

Ep. #216: Russell Mael & Alex Kapranos of FFS

Russell Mael and Alex Kapranos are talented musicians who are part of a new band called FFS. Mael originally hails from Culver City, California. Along with his brother Ron, he formed the pioneering electro-pop and prototypical new wave band Sparks in the early 1970s, which went on to achieve chart success and develop a loyal following. Musicians in particular have been drawn to the instrumental and lyrical daring of Sparks, who frequently set trends just by operating outside of the conventions of rock music and experimenting with sounds and theatricality. Kapranos originally hails from Glasgow, Scotland. In 2002, he co-founded the band Franz Ferdinand who remain one of the most popular and influential rock bands in the world. Among their fans are Ron and Russel Mael of Sparks and this mutual admiration has led to the remarkable collaboration FFS, whose self-titled debut came out this past June via Domino Records and will certainly stand as one of the finest albums of 2015. FFS are on a world tour that brings them to Toronto’s Phoenix on September 30. Here, in separate interviews, Mael and Kapranos discuss the Tokyo to Zurich commute, playing to a festival audience instead of a Sparks audience, the reception to FFS, how this collaboration was executed, the song “Piss Off,” mutual admiration, past collaborations with bands like Faith No More, overcoming boring music, working with Giorgio Moroder, making unsuspecting new fans after releasing 23 albums, the scene in California when Sparks began, how we know too much about the music business now, metrics, the Mael’s theatrical backgrounds, their upcoming musical and feature film projects, the long-rumoured Tim Burton/Sparks collaboration on a cinematic musical, infusing music with humour and the perception of such music’s substance, love songs and clichés, “Johnny Delusional,” the FFS Glastonbury performance and performing with Franz Ferdinand, Russell’s impressive singing, finding common ground with Alex Kapranos and Franz Ferdinand, unreleased FFS songs, the song “Johnny Delusional,” seeing Nardwuar the Human Serviette, trading song ideas with Sparks, secretly making the FFS record, unsuccessful super groups, the song “Collaborations Don’t Work,” how music with humour is regarded, the song “Johnny Delusional” and capturing the light and darkness in life, self-seriousness, discovering Sparks at a flea market in Glasgow, why Sparks isn’t as big as they should be, fortunate collaborations, singing with Russell and performing with FFS, the song “Police Encounters,” and then we piss off.

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