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The Innovators: Franz Ferdinand

By: Marc Spitz

Franz Ferdinand are about to change. Dressed in fuzzy sweaters, blue jeans, and muddy sneakers, the four mates from Glasgow — singer/guitarist Alex Kapranos, guitarist Nick McCarthy, bassist Bob Hardy, and drummer Paul Thomson — laze about the Foreign Legion-style dressing tent that the organizers of Paris’ annual Rock en Seine festival have provided for the headliners (couch, mini-fridge, Ikea coffee table, candlestick, no candle). They’ll thumb through the latest issue of U.K. rock-geek bible Mojo (Alex), search in vain for a lost wallet (Nick), or wander into the crowd completely incognito, despite wearing a monogrammed jacket (also Nick). But soon, at around 10 P.M., they will dress themselves in the kind of shiny dark suits with clinging sleeves and pant legs that everyone from Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day to Pete Doherty of Babyshambles wears these days. The desired air is one of seamless, new rock royalty, and Franz wear it surprisingly well. The balance between international touring attraction and awkward lad is a healthy and highly functional one within this camp.

After selling more than three million copies worldwide of their self-titled 2004 debut, and becoming the new It band, Franz Ferdinand lent songs to both commercials (including “Take Me Out” for Sony’s PSP) and art-house porn (they perform “Jacqueline” and “Michael” in the film 9 Songs). Their sophomore album, You Could Have It So Much Better…With Franz Ferdinand, was one of the most anticipated rock releases of the fall and should establish them as the mainstream band that is okay for hipsters to still adore. Say bonjour then to the anti-Coldplay.

To read the rest of the Franz Ferdinand cover story, pick up the November issue of Spin on newsstands everywhere, or subscribe now!