The increasingly bland, widely accessible pop-rock of the Brits in Coldplay have made them international stars. Relatively close by in Wales, Future of the Left has delivered three fantastic records—including this year’s “The Plot Against Common Sense”—of sharp, aggressive indie rock wrapped around lyrics both cutting and hilarious. Consequently: The more acclaimed but less popular band works day jobs, and, says singer Andy Falkous, don’t make much of a living from their work.
“I’m disappointed on our behalf, but I don’t feel anything toward other individuals,” says Falkous, 37, by phone from Cardiff in South Wales. “You can’t really blame bands for existing. If Coldplay didn’t exist, there’d be another band to appeal to couples in their 30s who want remember a special song on that rare night when the babysitter can stay with the kids until 2 and they’re out having Tex-Mex. If One Direction didn’t exist it’d be another bunch of plucked-looking children singing to screaming teenage girls.
Those bands exist because there’s a need for those bands. I think there’s probably a need for our band [Laughs]. It’s just a much smaller need.”
To these ears, Future of the Left is essential listening, though certainly not for everyone. Falkous says he was disappointed with the roughly half-full Bottom Lounge the band played to in 2009 but, whatever the crowd this time around, “I guarantee that every show is the same for us; we play like our lives are about to end.” He’s a wickedly smart, uninhibited interview. Here’s a large chunk of our 40-minute chat.
Future of the Left, 8 p.m. Nov. 5 at Bottom Lounge, $13
You just got home from work. What are you doing now during the day?
My job is working for my local council in various complaints departments. Environmental health, usually, dealing with various manifestations, some true and some borne of utter madness.
Anyone who knows your work would be happy to hear you’re working in another capacity that allows you to recognize what people have a problem with and do something about it.
[Laughs] I wouldn’t say necessarily recognize what problems people have. I think if you’re in the band world [and] most of your friends are musicians, you have what would be best described as a tenuous connection to reality. Whereas in our lives, believe me, we have a constant connection to reality. To give you an idea about our connection to reality--and again this is going to sound like a humblebrag, so do bear with me--I had two bits of news last Thursday. One of which was that we’d won this thing called the Welsh music prize, which is basically like the Welsh Mercury prize or something, and the other bit of news was that [we] found somebody to feed our cat while we were away in the States for a month. And even though the first bit of news was very sweet—like they said, just because you don’t do things for a pat on the back it doesn’t mean it’s not nice to get a pat on the back from time to time—it was far more significant to our existence that our next-door neighbor had agreed to feed the cat. A month is
a big ask. I have this unfortunate disease where anything I say sounds like a joke, and it has really got to the point where I don’t know if I’m joking or not when I say that.
It reminds me of people saying that to Jerry on “Seinfeld.” Have people pointed that out to you, or you realized it on your own?
They have. The first time I told a girl I loved her, she punched me in the face.
Because she thought you were kidding?
Yeah. She thought I was taking the piss.
Did you patch it up after that?
[If] somebody’s going to punch you in the face, that’s pretty much the middle point of a huge down-slope. Chances are that emotion was just brought on by really good whiskey anyway.
I’m talking to you from Chicago, where I believe you’ve spent a little time. What comes to mind when people talk about Chicago? Anything you particularly liked or didn’t like?
I think as a touring band there’s a danger sometimes that you don’t remember cities, but you shine a light on them in regards to how good the shows are there. If for some reason you played in Beirut to a capacity 800 crowd, had a great show and did loads of merch, and somebody said, “How’s Beirut,” you’d go, “Oh, it’s a [bleeping] lovely place. It’s great. The people there, they’re bang-on and honestly the architecture is inspiring.” So when I say my favorite cities especially in the States are Seattle and Chicago, that’s because they’re two of the better crowds. I have to say, Seattle wins.