Feature ·

Challenging the mainstream

Futureheads

When the "angular" movement rushed out of the United Kingdom in 2004, The Futureheads were alongside Bloc Party at the helm. The Futureheads, a four-piece from Sunderland, England, released a few singles on Fantastic Plastic before their eponymous full-length debut (which includes those singles) was released on 679 in the United Kingdom and then Sire in North America. Prefix's Steve Bittrand sat down with Dave Hyde (drums) and Ross Millard (guitars) in the tour bus before a show at Club Shine to discuss their newfound success, Franz Ferdinand and what's next for the Futureheads.


 

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Prefix Magazine:
How long have you guys been together now?

Futureheads:
RM: Between three and four years.
DH: I joined three years ago.

PM:
Have you released other albums than the self-titled on that was released in America in September?

Futureheads:
RM: We've had some singles and stuff, but that is our only album. That is our debut. We didn't play outside our hometown for about eighteen months. We played together for a long time before we signed a deal.

PM:
Why do you think that was?

Futureheads:
RM: I think it's kind of to make sure. We didn't take very long to get our sound, but we did a lot of shows in our hometown just to build up confidence and be an actual touring band. We didn't really set out to form a band and make a record. All this just happened along the way. We were all working day jobs, and it was something to do, something to pass the time. And it gradually became more serious. Then we managed to put out a record.

PM:
What label were you guys on before?

Futureheads:
RM: [We were on] 679. That's the record label in the U.K.

PM:
How did you link up with them?

Futureheads:
RM: We had a singles deal with a label in the U.K. called Fantastic Plastic, and we released two singles on that label. And then 679, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, bought us out of that contract. They're a U.K.-only label. They have the Streets and they put out the first Polyphonic Spree record in the U.K. The Stills as well.

PM:
You guys signed with a major out here, right?

Futureheads:
RM: Yeah, yeah. It's like Warner out here. We signed through Sire.

PM:
Was that a tough decision?

Futureheads:
RM: Since we were with Warner in the U.K. it made sense to sign with Sire. We were also required contractually to release the album through Warner everywhere else as well. We have managed to get an indie label involved as well called Startime International. It's kind of a split release between Sire and Startime because the guy who runs that label really liked the band. It's a nice compromise for us as well.

PM:
What are your plans from now until the end of the year? A lot of touring?

Futureheads:
DM: Start recording the next album next summer.

PM:
How long have you been playing the material that's on The Futureheads?

Futureheads:
RM: Some of it is one or two years old, but it's a bit of a mixture really. We put the record together September of last year. We put the record together with Andy Gill (of Gang of Four) in his studio in his basement. We didn't really like the way it sounded that much, we thought we could do a better job with those songs. So wintertime came and so we decided to re-record it. We re-recorded pretty much two-thirds of the album, and I think we're a lot happier with it now.
We have some sense of pride releasing it now, whereas I think if we released it earlier we would have been a little ashamed to tour. It took us a little longer than we would have liked to put the record out, but over here in the states we had the advantage of people not knowing us. Then we toured with Franz Ferdinand, and that was a nice platform for us to put the record out. And now we're doing our own thing.

PM:
How did you link up with Franz Ferdinand?

Futureheads:
DM: They asked us to do it. We did a show together, and they actually supported us. Two years ago they supported us at a show.
RM: It was an amazing tour for us because we knew every night that no one in the audience would know who we were. But it was a good chance to impress people and to play for that many people was a gift, really. That was a really, really good thing to happen.

PM:
It just amazes me how big Franz Ferdinand have gotten?

Futureheads:
RM: I think it's amazing that a band that makes that kind of music has managed to sell that many records or do that well. I think it's a real good time for guitar bands making pop music, albeit kind of an arty guise. I think it's especially good for British bands.

PM:
I noticed that you guys have shot a bunch of videos. Are you really interested in getting your music across through that medium?

Futureheads:
RM: I think we have the good fortune of working with Alex Smith, who's done all the most recent Darkness videos. He's really into bands like Devo and bands that are really trying to use video as a medium to express their music.
His ideas go really well with our music because we were trying to do something within the confines of the mainstream -- something that is perhaps a bit more challenging, more performance based, but with some weird things going on. In one of the videos we all have prosthetic limbs and we're all moving and twisting around. [There are] funny little ideas that are more interesting then sitting in a warehouse playing with moody lighting.

PM:
Have you guys gotten to see much of New York?

Futureheads:
RM: We did the Staten Island Ferry thing, Chinatown. Went there and got some food. It was nice to be out and about because last time we were here it pretty much was you go meet the label, you go do the show and then you move somewhere else. We're driving to Boston tonight, but I think we kind of made the most of our time here.

PM:
Have you guys played Boston before?

Futureheads:
RM: A lot of the places we are playing on this tour are places we've played with Franz.
But there are a few places like Boston and Jersey and Denver that we didn't play with Franz. I think those shows will be a bit more challenging because we know people will not have seen us play.

PM:
Is there anything in Boston that you plan to do? Or is it going to be tight with the time again?

Futureheads:
RM: I think we have a video session tomorrow. I think it is going to be pretty tight, though. If you can recommend something in Boston ...

PM:
Boston is a really nice, clean city. It's really safe. I guess people like to do shopping there. There's a street called Newbury Street that has a lot of clothing stores and some record shops. Then Copley Square is near there, too.

Futureheads:
DM: It is pretty nice to have an hour and two when your touring. The crazy thing about the U.S. is the different cities are like different cultures. It's almost like you're in different countries sometimes. We drove from Austin to San Diego and then we went through the desert and then we went up the West Coast and the climate totally changes. Watching the elections it was like watching several different countries. That big one in the middle

PM:
Not cooperating with the East and the West. It's been pretty tough to handle as I'm sure you guys are aware of.

Futureheads:
RM: I think it's pretty exciting to use that platform to tell people what you're all about or what you're going to be doing. We were aware that when we signed a record deal that there were a lot of things that go along with that. It's not just releasing a record and then doing a few shows. I'm quite grateful that people want to hear about the band and listen. Because it's those people that buy the record and give you a chance to make another one. I think we're all prepared to do that sort of thing. It's not that hard to talk about the thing that you love the most.

PM:
I think there's been a lot of press about you guys but it hasn't gotten to the point where everyone knows everything about you. I know that some bands are known to party and others are a bit more quiet and reserved. When you guys are about to go out on tour, what's the dynamic of the band?

Futureheads:
DM: Well, Russ doesn't drink at all. He still parties though.
RM: I think we're a quiet group in general, but then we'll have the odd night when everyone has some drinks and stuff. We're not total Puritans or anything, but at the same token -- the very nature of it, where after you leave the venue you have to drive to the next show.
DM: It's quite depressing to be drinking in the back of the bus by yourself. You're always moving.

PM:
What are you guys going to do to pass the time on this tour? Movies? Video games?

Futureheads:
DM: We're thinking about buying a Playstation. We do have a DVD player over there.
RM: The last time our eyes were always on stalks. You know, like your eyes are out of your head, just desperate to kind of see everything.

PM:
How long is the tour?

Futureheads:
RM: Basically a seven-month tour.

PM:
Are there different supporting acts?

Futureheads:
RM: We're just using local support bands. Next time when we comeback in February we might have someone as a support band.

PM:
How do your friends and family feel about what's happening with the band?

Futureheads:
DM: Both parents are really proud. It's quite a weird thing for four lads from where we are from. There's not a lot happening from where we are from. So for us to be doing pretty well, everyone knows about it. It's quite nice to go home. But I like it.

PM:
You guys might need an entourage soon like a lot of the rappers.

Futureheads:
RM: Or some bodyguards.

PM:
Did you guys work growing up? What is the worst job you guys ever had?

Futureheads:
DM: I have not worked a day in my life. I'm 19. I went to college for art and design, but it was really shit. Then joined these guys.
RM: I went to school, too. I also worked at a supermarket. The two other guys worked at a supermarket, too. It was really difficult trying to get nights off work. I don't think we've had really awful jobs or anything. The minute we thought we could really give it a go, we packed everything. We are really lucky that we're young enough to do that. If we had higher rent bills or more responsibilities

PM:
Or kids. So, you're 19? Are you the youngest?

Futureheads:
DM: Yeah.
RM: I'm 22.
DM: Barry [Hyde, vocals, guitars] is 23.

PM:
Wow. You guys are really young. Good for you.

Futureheads:
RM: We could've been around another five years before anyone even got to hear us, so we've been really lucky.

Pinback - Rob Crow doesn't want to fit in The Evens Blessed, not lucky.
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