WARNING: This interview is uncensored, and contains a fair chunk of coarse language. If you have a small child (or you are one), please put either it or yourself away.
It takes three rings of the phone for Andy Falkous to answer. He will hang up some 32 minutes later. The in-between sees the Welsh-bred, London-based frontman of sardonic rockers Future Of The Left doing what he does second-best: Talk. Top of the list will always be music, as anyone who’s followed Falkous through his time in Mclusky, Future Of The Ledt and his solo albums as Christian Fitness will attest to. The gift of gab, however, has been synonymous with the man commonly known as Falco for his entire career. Even before he started playing music with his friends, he was talking for a living. “I would say I have spent 22 per cent of my adult life working in call centres, at least,” he says.
“The highlight of my time working there was one time, after work, I was on the phone to my mother. Purely out of habit, at the end, I said ‘Thank you for calling.’ I could have gone into the whole thing from there: ‘You’ve been talking to Andrew, this call may have been recorded for quality purposes.’ I wonder what quality purposes the call to my mum could have been recorded for – maybe to replay to my brother the comments about the tidiness of his kitchen. Oh, it could have been the great Falkous family scandal of 1998. What might have been!”
Since leaving those days behind him, Falkous has primarily made his living off music. Still, as any musician not on a major label and not playing theatres will attest to, rock’n’roll barely pays the bills.
I barely make enough money to pay fucking tax.
Falkous lives in London now, with his Future Of The Left bandmate and partner Julia Ruzicka, as well as their infant daughter. “You get caught in these horribly fucking bourgeois conversations as a parent,” Falkous sneers. “They ask things like ‘Oh, so where did you buy? What area?’ It’s like, ‘Fucking buy? In London? Are you fucking high?’ I barely make enough money to pay fucking tax.” The apartment itself isn’t exactly a dream-house, either: “It’s got this ratty fucking carpet that you have to clear out with a steel fucking brush. I have to get down on my fucking hands and knees, and I’ll catch myself in the middle of it, thinking ‘What the fuck am I doing?’”
It goes on like this. Amazingly, in this half-hour of power, it barely scrapes the topic of music. We don’t talk about the latest Future Of The Ledt album — 2016’s The Peace and Truce of Future of the Left – nor his latest album under the Christian Fitness moniker, last year’s Slap Bass Hunks. Eventually, however, it does come around to Mclusky — or Mclusky*, as they’re now known. “Y’know, just because it rolls off the tongue a little easier,” Falkous quips. The asterix is to accommodate for the fact that it’s not really a Mclusky reunion – bassist Jon Chapple moved to Australia after the band finished, now playing bass for Melbourne miserablists Harmony. Falkous and drummer Jack Egglestone have been joined by Ruzicka on bass, as well as backing vocalist Damian Sayell, for a string of one-off shows over the years.
It’s always fun to teach someone the parts, and to have them just go ‘…is that it?’
They’ve primarily been for charity — “I’ve made more money playing a handful of Mclusky* shows than I’ve made in one financial year,” Falkous says, “and I saw none of it. They were good causes, of course.” While Future Of The Left have some downtime, however, Mclusky* have been doing some shows, as Falkous describes, “for the charity of us.” Falkous has been teaching Sayell the bass parts for the upcoming gigs, as Ruzicka will be unavailable due to child-care availabilities. “It’s always fun to teach someone the parts, and to have them just go ‘…is that it?’,” says Falkous.
“It’s like, ‘Yeah!’ That’s all it needed to be! If you go back through time, you’ll notice that a lot of songs widely considered to be the best of all time are pretty much just the one riff or the one bit over and over. It doesn’t always work, though. Even though it’s canon, I think we can all agree that ‘The Passenger’ by Iggy Pop goes for the month of May, pretty much. Turns out he’s a passenger, right? And he rides and he rides? He’s not sure if you heard it the first time around, so he makes sure to get it in a dozen more times. It’s the same with ‘Lust for Life.’ You start to suspect, around the 400th time you hear it, the young man in question has a lust for life.”
The conversation continues until our allocated time arrives, but you get the feeling it could have gone for another hour or two were there not a schedule to uphold. Will this convince anyone to go see Future Of The Left on their Australian tour? Probably not. You should absolutely do it, though. They’re one of the best live bands on the planet – and they’ve got a baby to feed, after all. “It’s conversations like this that will guarantee that we’re never going to sell any fucking records,” Falkous laughs. “No-one wants to hear this stuff, do they? They want to hear about people writing poems for supermodels, or some dispute you’ve had with John Lydon.” Want to start one? “Sure! He’s a prick! I don’t even need to have met him to know he’s a prick – everyone knows!”
Future Of The Left will play Oxford Art Factory this Saturday, January 13.