James Rawlings speaks to Andrew Faulkus of Future of the Left about their most recent album, “How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident”.
JAMES: How are you?
ANDREW: I’m okay man I’m just doing work. So only as good as a person doing work can be. It’s a bitter pill but it needs to be done otherwise we would all be living under bridges and robbing people with bits of wood.
JAMES: In your first album your lyrics have some quite strong statements such as “violence should solve everything” and “tories you sleep with the devil.” Do you think this is something that is still present in your music?
ANDREW: Well in the case of ‘violence should solve everything’ that wasn’t saying that violence SHOULD solve everything I was saying in a particular case violence did solve everything. I’m not the kind of person who believes violence solved everything. I deplore violence and for me when the aggression of our band is misconstrued for an excuse for violence we try and get that out the show as quickly and painlessly as possible. We’re all left leaning individuals. We all sold certain truths to be apparent. We don’t believe in hectoring or lecturing people about what we believe. Its true that the kind of people who go to indie rock shows are 98% going to be leaning to the left and there are a lot of things you take for granted with an audience like that. There are bands who are more explicitly political and I would suggest those bands are more useful for a younger crowd who are being introduced to new concepts and ways of thinking. Something that a lot of our audience would think they were being patronised.
JAMES: This latest album closely follows the release of your last album. Was there a reason for releasing another one so quickly?
ANDREW: It’s as simple as we had the opportunity to write some songs even though we didn’t rehearse as often the songs came easier. The trick with being in a band is there is no trick to being in a band. You work hard, you write hard, sometimes songs take ages and sometimes they attack you like a bunch of greedy fucking bees and in this case it was just easy. Every time you rehearsed two or three songs came forward to pull their trousers down and let us know they wanted to be considered and it was just really easy. There’s never really a plan or a plot I mean ideally we’d release great new music all the time, but you know there might not be another record for three or four years or there might be another in a year and a half. I don’t know. It all depends on the quality of the creative inspiration which happens around us basically.
JAMES: This album was crowd funded rather than with a label. Was there a particular reason for pursuing this?
ANDREW: Last time we did end up releasing through a label but the whole process of releasing through a label was protracted and painful. Its possible we could have found a label for this record but because of that we didn’t. Crowd funding really, aside from a rich relative dying, and I have none of those alive or dead, um or taking out more credit card debt crowd funding was really our only option and we went about it in a way that was particular to the band. And we succeeded and though some people weren’t happy with the whole notion of crowd funding they see it as begging, I don’t see this as begging. We’ve earnt enough in leeway in respectful action over the years to be seen to be rather beyond that kind of thing.
JAMES: It was a success, was that encouraging, were there any particularly big donations?
ANDREW: There aren’t any particularly big donations but it was very encouraging but there is a risk of something as explicitly financially based as crowd funding that there is a risk in explicitly financial terms but there was something lovely to see that much faith in practice and to realise that within five hours of putting the whole thing online that we were going to be able to make the record in the exact way that we wanted.
JAMES: What was the recording process of the self service video? Do you think that had a big impact?
ANDREW: Well not a lot of people actually watched it and a lot of people who pledged never actually wrote it but I wrote the script and then we got one of our favourite comedians, Andy Zaltzman who does a podcast with John Oliver called The Bugle, to do the voice over. Julia, one of her day jobs is she works in comedy as a booker so we were able to contact him so I wrote the script, he performed it. Myself and Julia, but mainly Julia edited the whole thing together and it took, for something that is about a minute and forty seconds long, it probably took from beginning to end about 60 to 70 hours of work to get it all exactly right using our rather basic editing equipment but we’re really, really happy with it and I think playing around with something creative probably helped balance our nerves about asking people for so much money. It made it feel like a business decision and more of an explicitly creative one.
JAMES: So now you’ve done this and set up your prescriptions music do you have plans to expand that or just use it to release your own music?
ANDREW: At this stage its been alongside normal life holding down day jobs. I mean, my brother Jacks just had a baby and our guitar player just got engaged and myself and Julia just got married three months ago, aside from doing all that and holding down day jobs and releasing this album, which been far more work than we would have ever had imagined, especially for Julia, there hasn’t been a time good enough sticks it something good enough comes forward but absolutely why not but unfortunately we’re not in a position where we can loose money on anything and running a record money is a really good way to loose money you don’t already have.
JAMES: Sounds like things are going well in your personal lives, but would you say your latest album is still angry?
ANDREW: Certainly on terms of love and life, not in terms of financially but there’s more to life than money I hear. I wouldn’t say angry, I would say more energetic. Not that kind of frame of mind, we never sit down with a, some bullet points of societal issues or the bullshit construction of language which needs to be tackled, it just turns out that way. I guess I’m just an aggressive person in a lot of ways. I don’t mean physically aggressive, I don’t go round head butting lamp post or taking a piss on sleeping dogs but um you know I’m quite, what’s a good phrase in cricket when people are far too, you know far too tattakcin, “they’re not going to die wondering” and I’m not going to die wondering.
JAMES: I saw from your twitter that you’re shipping your albums from your local post office?
ANDREW: For some reason they don’t like us, we go round, with maybe in the last week of going round there, with three or four hundred records and cds, you know already franked we hired a small franking machine to keep postage costs down. They really don’t want to take our fucking post. I give the bag to the guy and he’s like ‘if there is a problem contact the postman not us.’ And I just say to him ‘why do you hate being a post office?’ your job is to deliver mail, its all been paid for, you’ve got all the documentation’. They’re also now a WHS smith so selling copies of the daily mail and mars bars and they won’t actually post some fucking packages.
JAMES: How do you feel about streaming services, how do you feel about them?
ANDREW: I’m not the biggest fan, but you know, if people don’t stream your record they’re just going to download it illegally. If they love you’re record they’ll end up buying it in some format which can be listened to more conveniently or honestly. I can’t feel its an honest or befitting model for art but you know that’s how it is. There’s a lot of things you get pissed off about the world at large and the particularly the music industry before you get to streaming and getting annoyed about it… its like getting annoyed at the rain for being wet.
JAMES: Your latest album artwork is interesting, what’s going on there?
ANDREW: A friend does the artwork, we looked at some safety cards and he gave us some initial ideas which were very close to that which we loved and we looked at that theme and ideal and we went with it and it’s connected with the album title. I’m very happy with it and feel very lucky that all the artwork for our four records has been very different, very happy with all of them and there isn’t one of them that hasn’t worked. On CD and on LP it’s a gatefold which is a fantastic thing and even though it means we paid top dollar for it and making a lot less money its just a fantastic thing to old rather than something that you’d just stream. It’s a real thing and you think of the love and attention that went into that package.