Future Of The Left
Back in August, Future Of The Left lynchpin Andy Falkous sent me an email. There was no subject line, just an attachment: an mp3 called I Am The Least Of Your Problems . It was followed soon after by another; same deal, different mp3. Then another. And another. And one more in early September.
“New demos,” Andy explained in a separate email. “They’re probably about 70 per cent there,” he elaborated over the phone later. “Demos are always rushed; for various reasons they don’t sound as complete, they don’t sound as massive.”
If that’s the case, then the final results are going to be monumental, with emphasis on the ‘mental’ – as always. Judge for yourself at futureoftheleft75.official.fm, where the band have recently made two of the August demos and a newer one, Notes On Achieving Orbit, available to stream (with a note elsewhere that only My Wife Is Unhappy is likely to end up on the album). That fuzzy guitar is still there, and the obscurantist lyrics of course; but there’s something else. More depth. More layers.
Hardly surprising, when you consider the band now has more members (more on them later) and the demos were recorded with the new line-up, after bass player Kelson Mathias left in May. Kelson was much loved by Future Of The Left fans so let’s start there. What happened?
“He just lost interest,” Andy replies. “That’s the long and the short of it, really, for a variety of reasons – be they financial, be they the company he was keeping over 250 days in various small hotels and tiny vans with the smell of men and the lingering stain of disappointment.”
So, no personality clashes, nothing like what happened with Jon Chapple leaving mclusky (for newcomers, if any exist, Andy’s former band, which broke up after bass player Jon left on less than amicable terms)?
“Obviously there’s always tension when people spend time together in any kind of relationship without the sweet release – or the sometimes unhygienic mess – of fucking to alleviate that tension. It can be a problem, of course it can. But some people just reach that stage where they want to stay at home, get a normal job and spend more time with the girlfriend or the cat or the dog or the DIY or the economics textbook or whatever. And even if you’re disappointed with that, you can’t really condemn it,” he says.
“It was a pain in the arse at the time, of course,” he adds, “but ultimately I think for us as a band, as a vital creative force, it’s been the best thing that could have happened. Kelson is an absolutely fantastic performer but since he’s left the band writing’s become a hundred times easier. The third album would have been an epic struggle, I think, had he still been part of the band.”
So how is the third album coming along?
“We’ve written about 19 songs, and we’ve got eight or nine that, as far as I’m concerned, are absolute certains for the record. The one thing I know about the record,” he muses, “is that I want it to be longer. I want to hit about 45 minutes. It’s a challenge to try to fill that 45 minutes with the same kind of intensity as the earlier ones, which are about 33 minutes. But frankly a challenge is what makes the man, I think, in this case.”
As to what makes the band now, well, it’s a girl. And three men. Julia Ruzicka has stepped into Kelson’s shoes to play bass, while Jimmy Watkins brings an extra guitar to the mix. They join Jack Egglestone on drums and Andy, on guitars, vocals, promo, twitter (@shit_rock) and pretty much everything else.
Andy is dismissive of anybody who might be having apoplexies at the thought of a girl joining what many have viewed as an “overtly masculine enterprise – this burning field of testosterone flying around the globe with swinging balls, taking on all comers”.
That’s not Future Of The Left, he states. “We’ve never been that kind of band, offstage. All of our rock ‘n’ roll is reserved for the stage.” And besides, “in a lot of ways Julia’s probably more masculine than I am. I mean, I call my mother regularly and enjoy shopping!”
If you need proof, just youtube Million Dead, her former band. She’s got the requisite chops. Also, for Melbourne – traditionally one of Future Of The Left’s strongest markets – Julia brings something else: she’s a local gal. The band hardly needs an extra excuse to visit Melbourne, but if a trip down under means a visit home for one member… well, you do the maths.
As for Jimmy, he’s come to Future Of The Left from Strange New From Another Star, a band he still fronts and a band that features “everyone’s favourite rehearsal room owner / misquoted modern sage Mark Foley,” to quote Andy on the Future Of The Left myspace blog.
“I call him Little Jimmy Timmkins,” Andy says of Jimmy, “especially when I need to tell him off. We’re actually going to start a Facebook group soon for people who are qualified to sack him from the band. Because the only way to control Jimmy is to threaten to sack him every five minutes.” In other words, he is “unbridled”.
Which all bodes well for live shows, non?
“He’s still obviously becoming comfortable playing live with the band; that will come in time. But the excitement and the vitality of everything that is happening to us at the moment will make those shows incredibly exciting. And now that we’re a four-piece, there’s a lot of songs we can play live that we couldn’t play before.”
Here, he mentions Lapsed Catholics. I think.
“The bottom line is, I’m so excited about standing on stage and playing those songs to – and at – people. And I hope they enjoy the show as much as they’ve enjoyed previous incarnations because as much of a cunt as I am, that kind of thing genuinely means a lot to me.”
FUTURE OF THE LEFT will be playing at PYRAMID ROCK FESTIVAL – alongside N*E*R*D, The Temper Trap, Arrested Develoment and a million other excellent bands) on December 31 (tickets and info from thepyramidrockfestival.com) and then tearing faces off at The Corner Hotel on January 2 (tickets from The Corner box office, 9427 9198 or cornerhotel.com). To hear the new demos go to futureoftheleft75.official.fm.