- so Franz Ferdinandy. Alex Kapranos grins through his fringe. "That makes perfect sense. I'm really glad you said that because it was a goal."
A couple of minutes before, I'd watch Kapranos stride into the cafe, hips still girl-skinny even now, more than 10 years into Franz Ferdinand's existence, the very picture of how you want your pop stars to look. And not so very different from the only other time I'd met him, nearly a decade ago backstage at the Reading Festival in the high summer of the band's first flush of fame. Since then Franz Ferdinand have toured the world, made a second and then a third album, met their heroes, did too much (touring, work, etc), went their own way and have now reconvened to make a fourth album - Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action - that turns out to be a statement of intent and perhaps a statement of first principles as well. It's a crisp, urgent record that sounds, as we've already established, very them.
Kapranos walks upstairs, shakes hands, and sits down and talks: about the past, the present, about the Irish writer William Trevor (one of the influences on the lyrics of the new album - the song Brief Encounters came about because Kapranos had been reading Trevor's short stories and thought "Yeah, I want to write something about the grand events of little lives") and, yes, about the band's Franz Ferdinandiness.
"Something I've noticed about bands occasionally," Kapranos says as he sips his soup, "when they get beyond their second record, it's almost like a paranoia or a neurosis runs through their head: 'Crikey, we've been doing this a while. Maybe we need to do something new. Maybe we need to reinvent ourselves.' And it's half right. You need to do something new. You need to keep pushing yourselves creatively. You need to try new things. And that might be the way you produce the record, the way you write the songs. But you can't reinvent your personality.
"It's something I've noticed with our song covers. Whenever we do a cover of a song, whether it's a Beatles song or a song by Beck or a Britney Spears song, it sounds like Franz Ferdinand. It's just four people. It's the personalities."
And yet it's been four years since the last album. Things have changed. The band now variously live in Glasgow, Dumfries (in Kapranos's case) and London. Children have been born. "So when Nick and I are writing songs, maybe his wee boy is running around in the background," Kapranos admits. "But we still write in the same way. Maybe he wants to tour in a different way now than he used to. He probably doesn't ... actually, I'll take that back. I was going to say he doesn't party in the way he used to, but maybe he doesn't party in the way he used to as frequently. But you should really ask Nick about that one."
In short Franz Ferdinand have grown up. A bit anyway.
Questions the interviewer asks Alex Kapranos derived from the lyrics of the new album.
1. "Please believe everybody steals" (from Fresh Strawberries)
What is the last thing you stole?
"Oh, I know. I did a photoshoot in Japan about three weeks ago and there was a really fancy pair of Paul Smith socks I was wearing and I kept them on. I'm not sure if that's proper stealing, because I'm not sure they'd have wanted them back after they'd been on my feet. But, yeah, I still have them."
2. "So come home, practically all is nearly forgiven" (from Right Action)
Who have you nearly forgiven?
"A couple of friends. That's all I'll say. I was talking to a friend the other day about the nature of forgiveness and how the greatest thing about forgiveness is how liberating it is and how light you feel after you stop carrying all that resentment. It's a really terrible weight and it eats people up."
Let's talk about talking. The other thing about the new record, Alex Kapranos tells me, eventually, is how lucky we are to have it. The truth is the new album only came about because Kapranos met up with bassist Bob Hardy a couple of years ago. "We felt we hadn't talked for ages. Hadn't really talked since we were touring and even when we were touring. We hadn't fallen out but we weren't speaking to each other as much as we would have done 10 years ago."
It was the band's video director, Diane Martel, who prompted the meeting. "We had been speaking to Diane independently and I was saying 'Och, I don't know what to do about the band. I don't know if there's even any point making a new record. I never really speak to Bob. And she said 'You are so ridiculous. You just need to talk to the guy.'
"It was really Diane's prompting that made us meet up and just talk to each other. We went up to Orkney because neither of us had been there before and it felt like neutral territory. We walked around Orkney for days, talking and talking and talking about everything that had happened over the last ten years, the good things and the bad things, and where we felt now as people and how we wanted the band to be. All that talking felt really good."
Back up a second, I say. Are you telling me that there was a possibility that the record might never have happened? There's a pause, a long pause, before he speaks again.
"I went up with the intention of saying we weren't going to make another record. I wanted to tell Bob first because it was our conversations right back at the beginning that got the whole thing going in the first place. It was only after all that talking that we realised how trivial all the reasons for not making a record were. Once you talk and you hear the sound of what could make a record really good then it gets you excited and you want to make that record."
More questions the interviewer asks Alex Kapranos derived (he thinks) from the lyrics of the new album.
3. "I'm in love with my nemesis" (from Treason! Animals)
Have you been in love with your nemesis?
"Umm … next question."
4. "You randy bastard" (from Evil Eye). Who's a randy bastard?
Kapranos (confused): "A randy bastard?"
That's the line, isn't it?
"Oh no, that's not. I love that. It's 'Red, ya bastard'."
Maybe I'm projecting.
"Maybe you've answered the question yourself. Maybe the randy bastard is not too far away."
5. "Don't play pop music" (from Goodbye Lovers and Friends)
What music do you want played at your funeral?
"I'm not sure. Something quite delicate. I would rather have classical music than pop music. It's just a personal thing. Maybe Chopin or something like that. Something that's not going to get in the way. "I've been to funerals where I felt I was having one last playlist inflicted on me by the bad taste of the person who I still really liked who is disappearing into the hole in the ground. I don't see it as an opportunity to inflict my taste on anybody.
"Having said that, I can imagine something like One Is The Loneliest Number ..."
Going out to Take Me Out is too dark, I suppose.
"Yes, yes, yes. Definitely don't want to hear my own music."
It's 10 years now since Franz Ferdinand forced their way into pop's party with their breakthrough single Take Me Out. The overwhelming memory, Kapranos recalls of that moment, "is the sensation of being overwhelmed".
"It felt a little bit like we'd crashed some kind of party and we were just going to drink everything we could. We enjoyed it, of course we enjoyed it. But it was intense."
A decade later he thinks the band feel closer to how they did in 2003 just before things became overwhelming than any time since. "I feel closer to that because we removed ourselves from everything that was around us. Even though that insane party that we crashed was very enjoyable, I don't want to spend my whole life in it all the time. I enjoy the company of my friends in the band and I don't really have the desire to be a celebrity-type figure all the time. The thing that means the most to me is making music with those guys."
So what have we learned then?
That Alex Kapranos, despite everything, is still very Franz Ferdinandy.
Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is released on Monday.