Random Facts With… Paul Thomson (Franz Ferdinand)


Every once in a while, each of us gets the chance to do something that will forever remain in the memory. For me, one such occasion came about recently when the idea of interviewing 1/4 of Franz Ferdinand was floated under my nose – an opportunity I seized within mere seconds of receiving the email. As I was a teenager when the band first hit the big time, I delved into everything they released and learnt far more basslines than would be deemed normal (at last count, I can play Dark Of The Matinee on 4 different instruments – a valuable life skill, of course). They've recently put together a compilation of excellent tracks for Late Night Tales – including this beautywhich you can grab a copy of here. Whether you want to get a vinyl copy, a CD or just a download you can enjoy this marvellous mix however you please – there's even an exclusive cover version by the band and a spoken word piece from Alex Kapranos in there, what more could you ask for?

To celebrate the Late Night Tales release, I had a good long chat to drummer Paul Thomson about, well, whatever random facts either of us had assembled.

This is why I love my job;

I'm happy to do this via text or audio if that works better for you?

I reckon my answers will be better in text form, plus you'd find out it was actually an intern doing the interview for me.

I was unaware that drummers had interns, do they carry your sticks for you?

They used to be called roadies.

Oh how the world is changing.

21st century disease mate.

We've seen the rise of the intern, it's how graduates learn to hate their decisions. Anyway, did Gaby ask you to find a few random facts?

Yeah, I got some help from my Facebook pals and also thought a few up all by myself.

Nice, the ones that you've thought up yourself – are they genuine facts or things that you wish were facts?

Bob told me that Thatcher was originally a chemist that worked on the synthesis of soft serve "Mr Whippy" ice cream but the New Yorker chipped in and debunked that.

I think Bob is probably a more reliable source than the New Yorker. Just.

Turns out she had no redeeming qualities whatsoever and was just an evil witch after all.

That's a statement which should surprise no-one.

I drank 6 Long Island Ice Teas the day she died in Santiago.

As a celebration? Or just a wonderful coincidence?

Hugh, one of our crew, got them in. I think his motivation was her passing – I just drank them.

It's good to surround yourself with like-minded people like that. And plenty of alcohol, of course.

It was by a hotel pool in Santiago and the guy from the Foo Fighters was swimming nearby. About the most glamorous thing I've ever done.

Wow. I think the last time I was in a pool I was able to swim a length in about 5 strokes. Though it was near St Andrews and there was a great view.

The beach at St Andrews is stunning. I'm not much of a swimmer really, I was one of a handful of non-swimmers at school. They took us for lessons to the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, an Olympic sized pool, but we just got to piss about in the baby pool with water wings on until one day the swimming instructor decided she'd had enough and made us swim across the middle of the diving pool which was about 7 metres deep. Half of the class were in tears, totally terrified. You could tell she was really buzzing off it though, the power.

I'm surprised that they had a baby pool there. How did you feel about her no nonsense approach? I'm assuming you didn't drown? (and that no-one drowned, hopefully)

I gripped the sides the whole way round.

That's what I've done whenever I've gone ice skating. There was an incident when I was 10 in which my mum was 'teaching' me, then she slipped and pulled me over and I bashed my head on the ice…

I've never allowed myself to get near an ice rink as I know what would happen. I've never attempted anything I'm not brilliant at immediately. Anything where I need to work on a technique, I'm not interested in.

It's an arena worth steering clear of. I've just been looking down my list of facts – If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. I'm not sure if that's worth the effort.

It's good to know though. Were we to run out of energy and you really wanted a hot cup of coffee, at least you'd know what you'd have to do.

True. Maybe if you took a cold coffee to a football ground it might pick up enough noise to at least get warm.

It would depend on what material the receptacle is made of or who was playing. Perhaps a Celtic/Rangers game.

Yeah, that was my first thought. Energy is a weird thing. I remember learning about transference in school but never understanding it.

One of those enamel camping mugs.

More likely to get polystyrene at the football I'd think.

Then you can forget about a hot drink.

Damn… There goes the masterplan. Have you got another fact at the ready?

Apparently pineapples and mangoes have a particular enzyme that breaks up gelatine so you never get mango or pineapple jelly. Although I'm pretty sure I've had pineapple jelly so I CALL BULLSHIT!

Really? I've never thought to look. Now it'll be my priority to find the jelly aisle when I go shopping. I think you might be right to call bullshit, it just seems so improbable that they wouldn't find a way around it. Debunked!

I'm not sure it's what the world needs if the world has yet to notice it. Ah! Mysupermarket.co.uk!

It's the sort of thing that most people would hear and not question. All I had to do was Google pineapple jelly, top result.

Haha, I assumed you had my supermarket.co.uk bookmarked!

Oh, I do. This was just a happy coincidence. (Alright, I've never heard of it before…)

Big Mo from Eastenders is Gary Oldman's sister. I knew this already but forgot.

I knew that one – you'd never guess it though. They probably could have got her into the Batman movies with him quite easily, not picturing her as Catwoman though.

I'd love to meet Gary Oldman and then Big Mo just happens to pass by and they haven't seen each other in ages and they hug. She djs as well doesn't she?

Really? Under the name Big Mo?

I'm sure it's true, it sounds like the kind of thing I have dreams about mind you…

I think you're right.

£1.50 for jung bombs all night.

I don't know what that is… Assuming a Jaeger rip-off? I'd still give it a go at £1.50 a pop.

Yeah I don't know, Jaeger is always a bad idea. The last time I was offered a Jaeger bomb i said "Oh alright then, one for the road". For fuck's sake, ONE FOR THE ROAD!

Were you planning to sip it? Spend half hour nursing maybe 100ml of liquid…

I think I thought, 'well you drink it quickly and I'm on my way home so may as well'. So I knocked it back and my hangover was at least 30 percent worse than it could have been.

It's always that last drink that's the problem. If our bodies could just say no just 5 minutes sooner, so many hangovers would be avoided.

It's probably the sugar that makes it worse… and the alcohol.

Perhaps the latter.

I once drank a bottle of Jaeger with some guys from Cradle of Filth at a festival in Germany and they were all like "NOOO NOT JAEGER" and doing cross signs with their fingers and I was like 'oh come on, it's like cough syrup'. And then I remember NOTHING.

You'd think they'd be guys that could handle it – have you spoken to them since?

No haha. I knew one of them fairly well, the drummer but they sacked him. They were lovely guys, they talked a lot about how they missed their girlfriends when they were on tour, which is'nt really what I was expecting.

That's interesting. The general image of rock musicians is that they're a little less than faithful on tour. Kind of nice to see that they're nice and honest.

well I couldn't be sure of that, but their hearts were certainly in the right place. We've also drank Goldschlager with The Bloodhound Gang.

Who fared better? Or is that another memory blank?

I'm blanking because it was a long time ago. Well, 2004… We were being courted by their record label and they got wind that we may sign with a rival label, so they sent the whole office down to the gig we were playing that night in Philly
in stretch limos and we were playing the North Star I think, pretty small dive bar type joint. It was a bit embarrassing and The Bloodhound Gang were called in as reinforcements to level with us on a artist to artist basis.

That's not a bad option to have as reinforcements!

The singer guy goes, "you should totally sign with these guys, they let us write songs and about titties and doodoo."

So could Franz Ferdinand have turned into an output for your thoughts about tits?

It did cross our minds. The first LP could have been very different. It could have had more of a 2 Live Crew angle on it.

Maybe you could have got Sir Mixalot on board.

There's another fact Sir Mixalot cannot lie.

That's a bit like the fact that I genuinely cannot touch MC Hammer. Nothing to do with a restraining order, promise.

It's "You can't touch THIS" not you can't touch ME." I'm not quite sure what "THIS" is though…

I assumed that 'this' referred to his general aura. Not that I'm sure aura exists.

I do remember he dropped the MC prefix so that people would take him more seriously, and then he became a pastor.

He thought people would take him more seriously as Hammer?

He was probably declared bankrupt or HAMMERed for tax.


As a lot of his contemporaries were. Remember Jah Rule? He's in jail for tax evasion.

Really? That's news to me! It's a bit like how they got Al Capone.

Lauren Hill was in jail for a while too for the same reason. Maybe she wasn't incarcerated, but she certainly wasn't making music for a while because of it.

It's something you don't think of, maybe I'd assumed that they had enough money for an accountant. I'm not sure how you'd go about picking them up as clients if you were into accounting though. Maybe dropping them an email "Dear Mr J. Rule…"

Dear sir…. Mixalot. Have you seen the Nicki Minaj fart remix? Or is that a silly question given that you write a music blog…

Yes! I was watching it this morning. Wow.

It kind of surpasses the original.

 I only came across it through Facebook, pure chance.

And I thought their original was pretty good.

You do worry about how much time some people have on their hands.

I thought the recontextualising was particularly good when you have Drake with his head in his hands at the end after his lapdance.

I've never quite got Nicki Minaj – it's all a bit too unsubtle and obvious for me.

I dunno if it's just me but she reminds me of Joan Rivers a bit.

Interesting. Rivers for me is one of the best female figures in comedy history. She had more balls than most men in comedy.

Totally. I really enjoyed that show she was doing recently with Kelly Osbourne where they dissect celebrities outfits. Dissect as in dissect, not with scalpels in a post mortem set up. Although that would be a good show. CSI with Joan Rivers and Kelly Osbourne.

I think the post mortem one would be incredible – with the celebrities still in the dresses, just screaming – obviously not actually getting dissected.

Shame really…

Imagine Rivers doing the sunglasses moment followed by Roger Daltrey's screaming YEEAAAAAHHHHHH.

Haha! What is the ginger guy in CSI called again?

Horatio Kane.

He had a bit of a movie career.

Christ, that was too quick…

But then just got a regular gig with CSI…

David Caruso is the actor.

That's him, yeah. He was in Jade.

Yeah, and First Blood

I don't think he's ever done anything other than crime drama. Is First Blood a crime drama? It kind of is… My friend Amelia's Dad was in First Blood.

There's plenty of crime and plenty of drama, I reckon you could force it. Really? Did he work with Stallone?

Yeah, I think he gets killed in it, along with 80 percent of the supporting cast…

I think 80 is probably still too low.

I was just thinking that.

I think it still holds the record for most on screen deaths

Who is the enemy in First Blood? I remember it was dedicated to the freedom fighters of the Taliban. Sorry, "freedom fighters" – "impartial quotes".

Vietnamese I think? Actually, I think it ends up being pretty much anyone and everyone.

Superman 4 and Rocky 4 it's the Russians.

Conspiracy? Shrek 4 should have been him fighting the Russians. Would have been a much better film.

Is there a Shrek 4?

Unfortunately, yes. It's a "what if I was never born?" thing.

'What if this film was never made" kinda thing – we'd be £4million better off.

Like the Simpsons episode with the real Seymour Skinner. It ends up just being a waste of time.

I mean, if I'VE never even heard of it, it must have been a turkey. The Simpsons Movie was a waste of time.

Do you consider yourself a film buff?

As much as the next man. Have you seen Dirty Work? That's Bob's favourite film of all time. It's got Norm Mcdonald in it, who used to be on SNL. It's pretty amazing.

He was on Roseanne too right? I'll add it to my to watch list.

I think he may have been, he has this amazing laconic delivery. There's some great youtube of him on Conan telling a joke about a moth. If I told the same joke it wouldn't be funny. Have you heard Clement Freud telling the best joke in the world?

No? I love his voice though.

It's not even that Freudian.

What a great delivery! And a horrible visual…

Isn't it?!

It feels like he should be telling me off for playing music too loud but he's just so sly and clever.

It's very difficult to visualise, let alone put into practice.

You can put that on the to-do list for your next tour!

I remember reading that Mike Patton from Faith No More used to shit in glasses of orange juice as a party piece.

A party piece? Sounds more like a creepy fetish! I mean, why would you go to one of his parties if you knew that?

I imagine it would get a bit tiresome after a while – you go to pick up your glass "ooooh well done mike, you got me there AGAIN!"

I'd imagine that after a while whenever he got out the orange juice you'd be thinking 'here he goes again…'

Let's get off the scat chat.

Yep. I should probably ask you a little about the Late Night Tales album – who picked the tracks?

It was Alex and me mainly, Bob picked the West Coast Experimental Doo Dah Band track and the Life Without Buildings track.

Have you got a personal favourite?

I really like the Carrie Cleveland track. It's a private press gospel record, rare as hen's teeth, I don't even have a copy. One of the Late Night Tales guys knew a friend of a friend of a friend who had a vinyl copy of it and the audio was ripped from that and no one has a clue who Carrie Cleveland is or if she is even still with us. Perhaps if Kanye were to sample it she would appear…

Did you follow the saga with Bound 2? I'm sure I read that they didn't pay for the sample which makes up most of the track.

It did make me seek out the original which is sooooo good.

It is indeed – I think the guy who does the vocals was picked out of an orphanage or something. I might be confused though…

I love records with child's voices on them, they always sound a little naive but weirdly dark.

I'm a big fan of the Jackson 5. Though not their father's alleged methods…

There's a Norweigian kindergarten class singing on our track Evil Eye. It's pretty low in the mix but you hear it better on the 12 inch version.

Really? I thick the first question has to be – why Norwegian? I've got the 12 inch, will have to give it a listen later.

Because Todd Terje who worked on it lives in Norway and his girlfriend is a kindergarten teacher.

That seems much more logical than I was expecting. Would you ever get them to join you on stage if you played in Norway?

We played there a couple of weeks ago but Terje was away, I guess he's probably away most weekends as he's a top DJ. We dedicated it to him anyway.

That was very gentlemanly of you.

We were all brought up well.

Jolly good. Are you all pro-independence?

We are, yeah. Nick goes along with it, he doesn't live in Scotland so can't vote but he fully supports Scotland's right to be a very average European country.

That's fair enough, my girlfriend is half-Scottish and very much pro independence. Her Dad went to uni with Salmond and he's been very vocal in his support for the cause.

I'm not even a massive fan of Salmond really but I've gone from being apathetic a year ago to deciding that it's a really good idea.

What changed your mind?

A lot of people are swinging to the yes camp and it has a lot to do with the Better Together or No Thanks campaign being so awful and patronising. Whatever happens, more people that ever have registered to vote, so that's good. More people are becoming politically involved and are willing to engage with it and showing they actually give a damn.

Even if independence doesn't happen this time around, there's been a huge amount of support and plenty of awareness raised for the cause. It's a win for the yes campaign even if they actually lose, in my eyes at least.

Our current government would much rather we were all totally apathetic and just took what we were given. The momentum is picking up here anyway, I don't remember anything like this ever happening in my lifetme. Whatever happens September 19th is gonna be a massive anticlimax, which is a shame as it's my youngest's birthday.

Maybe a bit less of an anticlimax for you then!

Kid's parties are pretty stressful and I doubt I will have slept the night before.

The trick is to get them a present that you wouldn't mind playing with yourself. That is still age appropriate, obviously.

Fortunately my youngest is into music and likes records, he bought his first album last month.

You're a good father – how old will he be? I think I didn't buy my first album (that I'm proud to admit to) until I was 11.

He's gonna be 6. My first album was Madness, his was Channel Pressure by Ford & Lopatin


I know right. He also likes that guy on Numbers, Sophie, which I totally get, as his music is so elastic and shiny and tactile.

Christ, that's amazing! When I was 6 I thought the Spice Girls were all that…

I met the guy Sam, who is Sophie, last weekend and told him this. He suggested I get him an iPad and some music software. In that Aphex interview in Rolling Stone he says he has two boys aged 6 and 8 and they both make electronic music too.

Get him started on the music making young – great to see that future generations might not all end up as Biebers… 

I should probably get back to working now but thanks so much for taking the time to do this!

No bother, it was way more fun than any interview I've ever done, and I'm not just saying that. It's usually "what can we expect from your live show?" I mean, how do you answer that? Well, have you been to a gig before? Kinda like that.

Ah thanks – I know that artists must get so bored of the same old questions.

Actually, I have one more question before I let you go – Who is your least favourite cartoon character?

I was asked my favourite the other day which is easy. I actually hate Family Guy. It's way too tryhard and the artwork is shit.

I find it easier to hate characters, Scrappy Doo is my answer…

Yeah I'm with you, I can see that. It's insulting to dogs apart from anything.

Splendid. Right, thanks for doing this Paul – it's been brilliant and made teenage me incredibly happy (and 22-year old me just as happy). If you're ever in London I'll buy you a Jaeger…

Perfect x

Ciarán Steward

Franz Ferdinand's Late Night Tales is out now, get your copy here.