Wil Marlow hears why award winning band Franz Ferdinand just love an audience...
It's a sunny Sunday afternoon but the Top Of The Pops crew are stuck in a BBC studio starved of any natural light.
They're a bit grumpy, going through the motions as act after act comes on stage for their rehearsals for the show later that day.
Then Franz Ferdinand come on. As the Glasgow-based band run through their recent hit single Do You Want To, they manage to elicit some life from the bored crew.
A cameraman absent-mindedly taps his foot. A runner enthusiastically shakes his knee - Franz Ferdinand have got that magic that touches an audience even when they're not really trying.
"You feel very much in a run-through like that it's half the energy that will be there for the actual performance," says frontman Alex Kapranos later, sat outside in the sunshine. "You feel like you're going through the motions a little bit when it's a rehearsal like that."
"We've done Top Of The Pops where it's going out live on TV," adds bassist Bob Hardy, "and that's much more energetic. That's amazing."
The band - also made up of guitarist Nick McCarthy and drummer Paul Thomson - love performing. At the time of writing they're just finishing up another successful tour of the UK before they head out to Europe and then Australia.
Hardy says it's his favourite aspect of the job, despite the fact that he keeps resolutely still on stage while Kapranos stomps his foot and McCarthy and Thomson throw themselves around.
"I'm just concentrating," he says. "On playing the bass. The bass is so locked in with the drums all the time, people think you jump around. But I find it quite difficult."
This is because, ostensibly, he's still learning the instrument. When the band formed four years ago, Hardy had never played an instrument before, only picking up the bass after Kapranos persuaded him to let him teach him.
Before that he was an artist, and still describes himself as "a painter who plays bass rather than a bassist who paints". But these days he's hooked on life in a band.
"I never wanted to be in a band," he says. "I just ended up playing bass. But I really enjoy it now, the gigs and stuff. More each time. This time around, promoting this album, it's much more fun to me because I know I'm a better bassist."
As Franz Ferdinand continue to promote their second album, the now platinum-selling You Could Have It So Much Better, they're continuing one of the more impressive music success stories of recent years.
They burst on to the music scene in 2004 with their eponymous debut album, which has now sold more than three million copies worldwide. It spawned three Top 20 singles, including the now classic Take Me Out, and won the band two Brits and the Mercury Music Prize.
Not ones to rest on their laurels, the band went straight back into the studio and knocked out another album, and so they now find themselves back on the promotional trail for it just a year later.
"I think some bands do have a period where they write a record, then they record it, then tour it," says Kapranos. "We're not really like that. We just write all the time. This record is just another collection of songs that were ready at that time."
"You don't need to take two years to record an album, you just do it. We were excited about what we were doing so we wanted to do it."
Walk Away, the newly released second single from You Could Have It So Much Better, is a slight departure from their usual foot-tapping, riff-laden tracks - you might say it's the closest the band will ever come to a ballad.
"I don't know if it is a ballad," says the frontman. "But I like the idea of ballads in the real sense of the word, which is writing a song about somebody. But as for a sentimental love song, I don't know. I don't like the idea of doing a song with insincere emotions."
Kapranos, who has an English mother and Greek father, was raised in Sunderland and then South Shields. It was while studying in Glasgow he became a fixture of the city's music scene, playing in a number of bands.
He formed Franz Ferdinand after his friend Mick Cooke, from the band Belle and Sebastian, gave him a bass guitar and told him to "do something useful with it". And so the lessons with Bradford-born Hardy started.
The duo had been friends for some time, and at one point worked together as chefs.
"Who's the better cook?" says Hardy. "We're both..."
"Talented in..." continues Kapranos. "Different fields," finishes the bassist.
"What's your speciality then Bob?" says Kapranos. "Salad?" he laughs.
"I really like making Caesar dressing, actually," comes the reply.
"Oh yeah there is something very satisfying about that," agrees Kapranos. "Or mayonnaise as well."
Kapranos met McCarthy, who was raised in Germany, at a party when the guitarist attempted to steal his bottle of vodka.
Fortunately they became friends and he joined the band as a guitarist, then they recruited Thomson, the only genuinely Scottish member.
Their first gig was in the bedroom of their friend Andy Knowles' girlfriend.
"It was terrifying," says Kapranos. "There was only about 40 people there but we knew every single one of them. I knew as well that if we did a bad gig on that first concert, we would have split up straight afterwards."
It did go well, and now the band have, sort of, expanded to a five piece. Knowles has been taken on to beef up the band's live performances and reflect the meatier sound of the latest album.
The band are already thinking about the third album which could be out as soon as next year.
"It would be nice to have a record out in 2004, 2005, 2006 and so on," says Kapranos. "But you can't really predict these things."