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Music

The war epic that inspired Franz Ferdinand indie hit 'Take Me Out'

@josephtaysom

As Franz Ferdinand are named after the architect of the First World War, it seems only right that their biggest hit was inspired by a film centred around Nazi conflict.

The Scottish band decided upon calling themselves Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but it wasn’t his assassination that led to them settling on their moniker. Instead, it was horse racing, of all things. After seeing a stallion of the same name take home the Northumberland Plate in 2001, it became under consideration to become their new title. 

As band names go, Franz Ferdinand is close to perfection. Not only does it roll off the tongue, but it’s provocative and gets the mind racing. But a great name means nothing unless you’ve got the songs to back it up, and the Scottish indie rockers eponymous debut album proved they were the real deal.

Despite being on an indie label, their debut connected with people on a mammoth scale. It made the band critical darlings, winning the Mercury Prize and becoming Grammy-nominated.

The record’s lead track ‘Take Me Out’ became one of the definitive anthems of the era, and if you cut it open, it bleeds early-’00s indie. On the surface, it’s a song about meeting a person of desire at a bar before putting forward a persuasive proposal. However, the initial inspiration for singer Alex Kapranos to write the number is impossible to decipher in the final product.

Appearing on the Song Exploder podcast, Kapranos revealed that the seed for the track was planted when he was watching Enemy At The Gates, based on William Craig’s 1973 book about the Battle of Stalingrad. One scene particularly captured the singer’s imagination. In his mind, he drew up a comparison between the similarities of warfare with the perils of dating — inadvertently leading to the creation of ‘Take Me Out’.

“The night before [the idea emerged] I’d watched a film called Enemy At The Gates, and it’s set during the Second World War around the siege of Stalingrad. One of the themes of the film is this stand-off between two snipers,” Kapranos revealed.

He continued: “Jude Law is the Soviet sniper and Ed Harris is the evil Nazi. They’re both kind of tucked away, hidden from each other, waiting for the other to make a move and expose themselves. ‘Cause as soon as the other makes a move, the other will know where they are and will take them out.”

The singer had already begun “mucking about” on an early version of ‘Take Me Out’ when the film was “fresh in my head”, and the lyrical narrative for the track was born. The singer added: “This image of the two snipers left quite an impact on me; it felt like a very good metaphor for the kind of romantic situations that we sometimes find ourselves in.”

If, by fate, Kapranos had decided to watch a different film that night, then perhaps, the part of his brain which had ‘Take Me Out’ bubbling inside of it would never have been unlocked. Without their golden arrow, the fortunes of Franz Ferdinand could have looked seismically different.