TWO years ago, Franz Ferdinand hit a crossroads.

The Scottish band, best known for their early hit Take Me Out, had just lost a crucial part of their armoury in talented guitarist Nick McCarthy.

Remaining members Alex Kapranos (vocals, guitar), Bob Hardy (bass) and Paul Thomson (drums) found themselves asking whether it was feasible to keep the band going and embark on new material.

“We had to decide whether we wanted to keep making music as Franz Ferdinand or not,” says Thomson down the line from his hometown Glasgow. “We all agreed that we did, so we thought we should just get on with it.”

Having worked as a laundry assistant at a nursing home before Franz Ferdinand formed in 2002, Thomson considered it a “no-brainer” to prolong the lifespan of the band. “Personally I don’t know what else I’d do,” he says. “Of all the jobs I’ve had this is by far my favourite – if you can call this a job”.

So here we are, with Franz Ferdinand about to release new album Always Ascending (out on February 9) and set out on a UK tour. It’s their first record since 2013’s Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, although the band put out a collaborative record with US rock band Sparks in 2015.

Kapranos, Hardy and Thomson have been joined by Julian Corrie and Dino Bardot to compensate for the loss of McCarthy. Much of the album was produced by French musician Phillipe Zdar who injected a slinky, disco-tinged edge to Franz Ferdinand’s trademark choppy guitar sound. Kapranos has called it a “new era” for his group and Thomson agrees.

“Right Thoughts... was almost the bookend of a decade. It’s similar in sound to our first record, and that was us drawing a line under that chapter of Franz Ferdinand. And then with Nick’s departure this album was always going to sound different – it feels like a different group.

“It seems like there is a less effort involved now, which sounds terrible, but it seems to be coming more easily.” After four records, 14 years and copious touring, McCarthy’s decision to part ways with his bandmates is perhaps understandable. At any rate, the remaining members aren’t holding it against him.

“We knew he was planning to go for a while before he did,” says Thomson. “He’d had enough and wanted to spend more time at home with his family. He wasn’t up for the touring schedule. We don’t dwell on the past.”

I ask if McCarthy’s exit made Thomson think about his own position in the band. “When you’ve been touring for a year, that tends to cross your mind three times a week,” admits the drummer. “Just thinking about the alternative is not that tantalising to me, though.”

An interesting side-note of Franz Ferdinand’s gig in Brighton is the support act – Albert Hammond Jr. The New York-based songwriter is also a member of The Strokes, the American indie rockers who paved the way for so many guitar groups with their slick debut album Is This It in 2001.

“They definitely helped us make a name for ourself,” says Thomson.”People had more of an appetite for young men playing guitars back then.”

That said, Thomson never saw himself as part of a rock movement in the UK, even though Franz Ferdinand were often grouped with acts like The Libertines and The Arctic Monkeys.

“The NME sold a lot of copies off the back of creating a scene, but if you asked any of those bands few of them would think that way themselves,” he says.

While many of their early 2000s contemporaries have since fallen away, Franz Ferdinand continue to stride forward in pursuit of pop perfection. At the heart of their long lifespan, says Thomson, is a desire to keep pushing themselves.

“If you’re not 100 per cent exhilarated by playing your songs you get very bored of them,” says Thomson. “It’s got to be exciting for us.”

Franz Ferdinand 
Brighton Dome, February 25,