Art school rock of Glasgow band wins Mercury prize

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Franz Ferdinand, the standard bearers of the high-flying Glasgow music scene, scooped the Mercury Prize for music last night for their eponymously-titled album of art school-influenced guitar pop.

Franz Ferdinand, the standard bearers of the high-flying Glasgow music scene, scooped the Mercury Prize for music last night for their eponymously-titled album of art school-influenced guitar pop.

For once, the most credible of the multitude of music awards went according to predictions, with Franz Ferdinand having been favourites with the bookies, ahead of The Streets.

Nevertheless, the Franz lead singer, Alex Kapranos, professed surprise after collecting the award from last year's winner Dizzee Rascal. "We really didn't expect to win this, we haven't written a speech or anything,'' he said. "We are truly gob-smacked.''

It was an acceptance speech infused with humility and an appreciation of the state of British music that will have enamoured Kapranos to the alcohol-quaffing industry types who had gathered at the Grosvenor Hotel in London's Park Lane, to see the award dispensed.

"We feel chuffed and honoured, particularly with this coming in a year when we are surrounded by such fantastic bands. Everybody deserved it more than we did," said Kapranos. "I do think the bands reflect a trend in the UK towards fantastic music. I think we are living in pretty good times at the moment."

It has been a great year for Franz Ferdinand, who earlier yesterday were presented with the GQ Magazine Band of the Year award. They also performed an acclaimed set at The Other Stage at Glastonbury in June, during which they became the first band to perform live from a festival on Top Of The Pops. They followed that with a triumphant return to Scotland for the T in the Park festival.

Franz Ferdinand were one of three Glasgow-based bands nominated for the prize last night, alongside Belle & Sebastian and Snow Patrol.

Named after the Austro-Hungarian Archduke whose murder in Sarajevo in 1914 sparked the Great War, Franz Ferdinand was set up in 2001 when Kapranos met bassist Bob Hardy, a graduate of Glasgow's School of Art. The pair later met up with guitarist Nick McCarthy, a classically-trained pianist and double-bass player who also learnt the drums.

After a period rehearsing at McCarthy's house, the band hired drummer Paul Thomson, who had once posed as a life model at the School of Art. Franz Ferdinand then switched to a new rehearsal space, a warehouse that they called the Chateau, and which they used to hold raves incorporating music and art.

Franz's first release was the EP Darts of Pleasure, but they have come to greater prominence with infectious singles such as "The Dark of the Matinee" and "Take Me Out". The opening track from their album, "Jacqueline", was recently chosen by Tennents to be the signature tune for a huge advertising campaign for live music events in Scotland.

At a press conference last night, Kapranos paid tribute to the state of music in Scotland and in Britain as a whole. "I think the Glasgow music scene has always been fantastic,'' he said. "But more than that, this reflects the state of UK music."

THE SHORTLIST

Basement Jaxx, Kish Kash

Belle & Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand

Jamelia, Thank You

Keane, Hopes and Fears

Snow Patrol, Final Straw

Joss Stone, The Soul Sessions

The Streets, A Grand Don't Come for Free

Ty, Upwards

Amy Winehouse, Frank

Robert Wyatt, Cuckooland

The Zutons, Who Killed The Zutons

Comments