Interview Franck Carducci:

"Torn Apart might sound a bit dark, but unlike ODDITY it's mainly based on real-life events"

(February 2015, text by Henri Strik, pictures by Arthur Haggenburg, edited by Peter Willemsen)

Most people who enjoyed ODDITY (2011, see review), the excellent debut album of Franck Carducci, were waiting anxiously for a successor. Well, after four years of promoting and playing the music of this debut, Torn Apart (see review), the new CD could be welcomed early 2015. Carducci didn't let his fans down, and as far as I'm concerned, he recorded the first musical highlight of 2015. For Background Magazine this was one of the reasons to inquire about his new album, his live band and his performances on stage!

Franck Carducci
After the release of ODDITY, I asked you whether we could expect more solo albums recorded with your live band in the future. At the time you were considering the possibility. When did you start working on a follow-up and why did it turn out to be a band album after all? 
Franck Carducci: “Well, after the relative success of ODDITY there was a growing demand for a follow-up. At some point I thought I had to grant those requests. Thanks to all the people who supported ODDITY, I was able to go on tour and play some lovely gigs. So I felt I owed it to all the people who kept and still keep supporting me. Torn Apart is not exactly a band album, because I wrote the songs while I was in between two bands and two cities, namely Amsterdam and Lyon. But nevertheless I worked with many great musicians on this album.”

You worked with musicians like Michael Strobel and Roy van Oost, who were part of the first line-up of the band. Was that important for you?
“It was indeed. I co-wrote Closer To Irreversible with an Italian friend Francesca Laneri and my former drummer Toff Crazy-Monk who are both Amsterdam based. I also co-wrote Mr. Hyde & Dr. Jekyll with my former guitar player Michael Strobel; Roy van Oost learnt to play the flute so I also had to use him in this project.”

You also worked with the musicians who currently participate in the band, but without drummer Laurent Falso. Why did he leave the band?
“Laurent left after a year because he didn't have time for this project anymore. The only reason why the others didn't get involved in the writing process is that this album was already written by the time I put the new line-up together. However, they participated in the recordings and played the songs live at the end of the ODDITY tour, so they all had their parts figured out. I recorded most of the rhythm guitars and some keyboards, because it saved time and because I knew exactly what I wanted on specific parts.”

Apart from the musicians you played with on stage you also worked with guest musicians like your cousin Richard Vecchi and the famous guitarist Steve Hackett. How did this happen? 
“My cousin Richard Vecchi is the ultimate analogue synthesizer player. He owns all these wonderful keyboards from the seventies in his studio. He already played almost all the keyboards parts on ODDITY. As for Steve Hackett, he's always been one of my heroes, so when he offered to play a solo on my new album it was an offer I couldn't refuse. I really feel thrilled to have him featured on this project; it's really like a dream come true.”

Two guitar players: Mathieu and Christophe (r)

It must have been difficult to decide which musician should play the guitar parts since Christophe Obadia and Mathieu Spaeter both play lead guitar
“Yes, very difficult indeed! That's why I leave it up to them to decide. They're very good friends and there's no rivalry whatsoever between them.”

Closer To Irreversible turned out to be a real song when it was recorded in the studio, even more than played on stage. Am I right? 
“It has that bluesy melancholic female feel, originally brought by Francesca and I added these 5/4 bits to make it sound a bit odd. I noticed during the shows that female audiences are usually more sensible to this tune, which doesn't bother me at all, of course, ha, ha!” 

A Brief Tale Of Time is one of the two epics on the album. Which sound did you use in the instrumental middle section of this track? It sounds as if a computer freaks out! 
“This part was done by my cousin Richard. It's supposed to represent a very dark and pessimistic future. I just wanted the listeners to feel uneasy when they reach this part. The message is that we should learn to appreciate what we have now in the present, instead of always thinking about the future. That's the experience made by the main character of this song; he lives his life dreaming about the future and building a time machine to make his dream come true.”

The tablas and sitar provides Journey Through The Mind a Beatlesque kind of sound. Why did you play a small part of the Lennon-McCartney composition Norwegian Wood at the end? 
“Ha, ha... well done, Henri! Well, the end of this song is an improvised jam between me on sitar and my friend Fred Boisson on tablas. Being a huge fan of The Beatles, I couldn't resist playing this famous theme at some point. Then when we sorted out the parts, I thought it would be funny to put this at the very end. I thought nobody would ever hear it. I was apparently wrong...”

How did you learn to play the sitar and was George Harrison from The Beatles an inspiration?
“I don't play it that well, I'm very limited but I like to jam with it. I've always been a fan of that exotic sound and George Harrison was, of course, a great source of inspiration, also for the twelve-string guitar.”

Was Mr. Hyde & Dr. Jekyll meant to be a hard rock tune?
“Yeah, I always wanted to do that. I asked my friend Michael what he thought of this idea and he answered with the main riff. Then we built the rest out of this riff. It's inspired by people with a two personalities, who can be at the same time very nice and also very dark and bad.”

On your debut I enjoyed the bonus track The Carpet Crawlers, a great Genesis cover. This time you added School by Supertramp as a bonus, which you play mostly as an encore during live shows. Why did you include it and why did you replace the harmonica by a didgeridoo?
“Well, first of all because I love Supertramp. School is one of the songs that really got me into prog rock and yet it's so accessible that everybody loves it. I always enjoyed playing it live, and we played it a lot during the ODDITY tour. People really enjoyed it, so I thought it was fair to put it as a bonus track on the record. The didgeridoo intro is something we did the very first time Christophe and I covered this song live, which was in 1996.” 

Is Torn Apart a concept album or does it have recurrent themes? If so would you please tell our readers something about it? 
Torn Apart isn't a concept album but there are indeed some recurrent themes like the distance between your loved ones, separation and many hidden dark sides in people's minds that can make well-known people appear like total strangers when you discover them. It's also about double personalities, impossible love and drug addiction. So, yeah, this album might sound a bit pessimistic and dark but unlike ODDITY it's mainly based on real-life events.” 

Who did the fantastic artwork of Torn Apart? 
“I'm glad you like it! It was designed by Olivier Castan, the keyboard player in my band, who also turns out to be a press caricaturist. He told me to explain to him the main ideas behind Torn Apart and then came up with these multiple heads, representing the different faces of the main stories. I loved it right away.”

What did you learn from the recordings for ODDITY and did you improve the recordings for Torn Apart? 
“I've learnt that an album is never finished. You can always improve something here or there. But at some point you have to deliver, you have to compromise, you have to say: stop!”

You have an amazing live band that performs your music excellently. How did you find them? 
“I feel blessed to have such wonderful musicians willing to get involved in my project. It went naturally. They'd heard of ODDITY, they enjoyed it and they wanted to be part of this adventure. It's just as simple as that!”

The band (from L to R):
Mathieu Spaeter, Olivier Castan, Franck Carducci, Mary Reynaud, Nicolas Chonageokoff and Christophe Obadia

Who's responsible for the acts on stage like Alice in Wonderland in Alice's Eerie Dream and 'the four-arm guitar' at the end of The Last Oddity? The latter looks as if an octopus plays guitar on stage!
“Same thing; it all came naturally, nothing was planned. Once we were playing in Lyon and my friend Mary Reynaud offered to come to 'play' Alice with us. It was so nice that she's still in the band, and even a very important part of it! That also applies for the 'octopus' which started as a joke in venue 't Blok in the Netherlands last year. We kept it in our live show because people found it entertaining. We are entertainers before everything else, you know!” 
Rehearsing the 'octopus'

Why did you choose to do the final part of Supper's Ready after the ending of The Last Oddity? You use the microphone standard just like Peter Gabriel used to do when he performed this song. You also unbuttoned your shirt like he did in the seventies. Did you want to copy him on purpose?
“Well, there's just no better way to finish a concert! The moving of the microphone standard was just a private joke between me and my keyboard player. As for the open shirt: I guess I always feel so hot by the time we reach the end of the show...”

The last time I saw you play live you performed The Four Horsemen by Aphrodite's Child as a tribute to the late Demis Roussos. To what extent did he influence you?
“I was very sad to learn that he passed away just a few days before we went on tour. The album 666 was very important for me when I was a teenager, and especially this song. Since we were to play in Paris just a few days later − they had their first success with Rain And Tears in Paris during the uprising of students in May 68 − I thought it was a good idea to pay him a tribute by playing this as a one-off. It worked so well that we kept it in the set list in Belgium and in the Netherlands later on.”

You always play covers for an encore. Will you keep doing that after recording two studio albums? You now have enough songs to choose from!
“True, but I like to play covers. It's like a present to thank the audience who made the effort to come and support an indie artist that they don't really know well. They get rewarded by hearing a few songs they do know at the end of the show.”
Make-up by Mary

Why did you work with two guitar players instead of one as in most bands?

“All my songs require two guitars; sometimes an acoustic and an electric guitar and sometimes two electric guitars. I also fancy watching both of them playing live on stage.”

Why do you use make-up and nail polish during live performances?
“The make-up is developing more and more, but I always wanted to add a theatrical feel to the show, being a big fan of Alice Cooper and David Bowie. I guess that makes sense.”

Why do you mostly play the bass guitar on stage?
“Well, simply because the bass guitar is my favourite instrument. I just love the sound of the bass, but as you know I play some twelve-string guitar as well.”
Franck Carducci with his
double neck

You play on a Shergold double neck bass/twelve-string guitar just like Michael Rutherford when he performed with Genesis. Where did you get this instrument and is it heavy to wear while playing? 
“I've been looking for this guitar for years and I finally found it in the Netherlands. Someone was selling it just when I was about to move to Amsterdam. It's awfully heavy, but that's the price you have to pay!”

What's next Mr. Carducci, a live album or a DVD? Or do you have other plans that you've not mentioned yet?
“Hopefully I'll play more and more gigs and festivals. And a live DVD at some point would be nice because our act is also quite visual. It's not only music. So that would be very nice indeed!” 

Thank you Franck for answering all my questions!
“Thanks to the whole team of Background Magazine and its readers of course!” 

More info about Franck Carducci on the Internet:

       review album 'ODDITY'
       review album 'Torn Apart'

       review concert 11-Mar-2012
       review concert 23-Feb-2014
       review concert 26-Sep-2014
       review concert 1-Feb-2015

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