Gang Of Four seek contentment on new album

Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:37am EST
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By Derek Caney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jon King and Andy Gill, who founded pioneering postpunk band Gang of Four, are sipping espressos in a Manhattan hotel and explaining how they conceived "Content," their first album of new music in more than 15 years.

King, 55, whips out his digital camera and displays a photo of a female bartender. "We're doing a series of photographs of women posing as the woman in 'A Bar at the Folies Bergeres' in bars around America," he said with a mischievous grin."

"We've only got one so far," Gill, also 55, chimed in. "The next woman is probably going to say, 'Go (screw) yourself!'"

As the two men chuckle at the notion of modeling New York bartenders after Edouard Manet's 1882 painting, one can't help but wonder if Franz Ferdinand crosses the country discussing French impressionist painters.

Five years ago, a music fan, particularly one in Britain, couldn't spit without hitting a band citing Gang Of Four as an influence. Franz Ferdinand, The Bloc Party and The Futureheads, whose debut album was produced by Gill, all managed to take quirky, punk-funk hybrid music to the Top 10 in Britain.

Bands as varied as R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers (whose debut album was also produced by Gill) and Nirvana have cited Gang of Four as an important progenitor of U.S. indie rock.

The band, which begins the U.S. West Coast swing of their tour this week, careened out of the highly politicized art department at the University of Leeds in 1977. They were the first of several Leeds bands, including the Mekons and Delta 5, that formed in the wake of the Sex Pistols' storm on Britain.

Gill, a devout Jimi Hendrix and Funkadelic fan, was seeking ways to subvert how typical rock bands operated at the time.   Continued...