Monday, 14 May 2012

The Futureheads ; INTERVIEW @ CAMDEN CRAWL 2012

The Futureheads

The Futureheads
Ross Millard – Vocals/Guitar/Banjo
Barry Hyde – Vocals/Guitar/Mandolin
David ‘Jaff’ Craig – Bass/cello/vocals
Dave Hyde – Drums/bass/vocals

Q. For a band that have toured world wide and played all the major festivals why did you choose Camden Crawl?

Barry: They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse (laughs) I think we are here mainly because we love playing KOKO and the last time we played Camden Crawl, we played here. In fact, halfway through the set last time one of the support bands maliciously decided to set the fire alarm off.

Ross: Sabotaging the gig.

Barry: Yeah, knowing that if the fire alarm goes off in this venue that all of the electricity and all of the PA electricity shut off automatically so we’re here for revenge…

Q. I’ve noticed that all your albums seemed to have been released in May-June was this on purpose or coincidence?

Barry: We didn’t really plan to release stuff in spring but I think it’s a pretty good time to release things as people are more open to new music whereas in winter they tend to be hibernating (laughs) I just think that we used to have a cycle of recording then touring and recording again but with this album (‘Rant’) it took us a year to make it on and off and then later this year we are releasing two more albums as well.

Ross: although ‘Rant’ did actually come out in May (laughs).

Barry: We are really trying to break old habits and break the cycle of things although, three albums in one year it looks like we’ve succeeded.

Q. Do you write on the road?

Barry: No.

Ross: Its quite difficult when you’re touring as you’re preoccupied with doing the gigs and enjoying the experience of being ‘on tour’ although you do remember individual ideas that you’ve put to one side for a better time that you can then bring to the table when we get back at a later date. But writing on the road isn’t really something we do; I don’t think many bands do it either that we’ve met.

Barry: Linkin Park! I heard that they have a tour bus that is a recording studio, there aren’t any beds on it or anything like that, they are literally recording whilst travelling which I think is quite amazing really.

Ross: Although they usually fly everywhere in jets so they must have to have a REALLY good idea to take the bus (all laughs) that’s really big deal megastar stuff really, the best we’d get would be a 8 track in the van (laughs)

Barry: Obviously when you’re travelling in a vehicle or walking somewhere, that tends to be a common time for you to have ideas when you’re kind of distracted, so I think in a sense songs begin on the road when you’re just going about your daily business and then you have to make a date really and decide to work on the song on this day and record it on this day and then the rest of the process just takes over. You don’t stop writing a song until it’s mastered. I consider the mixing process just as important as the lyrical process or the guitar process, it’s not finished until you essentially press stop.

Q. Is a song ever finished? For the ‘Rant’ album you’ve re-recorded some songs from your back catalogue for example and then performed them live including different arrangements once again.

Barry: In that sense, in the terms of a life of a song absolutely it never ends, you can stunt its growth (laughs) or you can be really rigid with it and play it the same every night but that’s quite tedious for the band so everything slowly starts to take its own quality, but what we’ve done on this acoustic album we’ve made as when we made ‘Rant’ we re-invented some of our old songs for other instruments not just vocals.

Ross: Help give them some CPR! (Laughs)

Barry: By doing this they really do feel like new songs to us and its strange that for some people when you’re releasing albums that aren’t entirely of new material that they think “Oh they must have ran out of ideas” but to re-record an old song is as much of an idea as writing a new one, it takes as much work if not more as you have the original attachment to the song and the initial relationship so in that respect you have to let them change and evolve.

Ross: It’s very rare that you play every song off an album live anyway so it’s only when we’re re-arranged them that they have actually made it to the set, they just seemed to fit better in that acoustic setting this time around.

Q. Can you see a time where you’d do both versions in a live setting?

Barry: I think you could get away with that.

Jaff – Well in fact a friend of ours who heard ‘Rant’ said “well there were a couple of the re-recorded ones that were better than the original and some that weren’t” which was strange because we then had to explain that we weren’t trying to replace any of the originals or do them better as such we were just trying something new and trying them out in this setting and arrangement for our own enjoyment really.

Barry: It’s strange that people always need to attach reason to things. Sometimes there isn’t a valid reason behind something and you have people asking “so what are you trying to achieve with this album?” and we have to say…well nothing, we are trying to ‘achieve’ an album nothing more; it’s nothing about the demographic (laughs)

Ross: we just feel we’ve become better musicians as we’ve progressed and are trying new things out and it’s just as valid an experience to us as anything else that we’ve done.

Q. You’ve taken risks musically by recording a whole album of acapella songs. How did that come to pass?

Barry: We did a session for Jo Wiley and when you do a session for the Live Lounge it’s a good little challenge as you do one of your own songs, you have to do an arrangement of some else’s song that is in the charts that week so we chose ‘Acapella’ by Kelis and we managed to arrange it in about half and hour and then went and sang it live straight on the radio (laughs) and that was a much bigger risk than anything we’d done up to that point, although we enjoyed taking that risk definitely and got a lot out of it. It’s similar to when you play a bunch of new songs live at a gig, the feeling of relief when you’ve played them, and played them all correctly, is worth all the built up anxiety beforehand and leading up to it. It’s that risk that’s important because if you don’t care then what are you risking?

Ross: I think that a lot of bands feel misunderstood by others at certain times but with an acapella album, what’s there to misunderstand? You can’t really miss that one, you can’t hide behind anything, and it’s really upfront.

Q. Have there been any outside bands or artists that have influenced the writing and playing of the recent albums/recordings?

Ross: Led Zeppelin

Barry: 'Led Zeppelin 3' mainly, they took a risk there and it didn’t really pay off for them but at least they then followed it up with number 4 and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ so you have to think would they have ever written that if they’d never made number 3?

Ross: I think it was just speaking to each other as well that influenced the album, saying ok well we’ve always sang in 4 part harmony and added certain acapella parts to songs so why not try and do a whole albums worth of purely acapella songs, I think that by reducing the instruments as well it helped push the idea for a live situation as well as you can’t really do a whole 80 minutes of acapella music, you’d be asking too much of the crowd to sit there in silence throughout, especially when a good 90% of people aren’t capable of giving that much attention to something for that length of time when they’ve come to a rock and roll show. I mean no disrespect to anyone but it is very intense to do that for a whole show so we added the acoustic and older instruments like mandolins and cellos.

Barry: We like the old instruments as well as they are so old as they are very ancestral instruments to us so it’s a good feeling when the songs go across in this way, songs like ‘The Keeper’ are very elemental in their presentation, we are trying to present something old as new songs, the melodies are so strong and so familiar as well as they were written in an era when the songs meant more and there was more of a craft, where as nowadays its not as much about the craft its about being crafty (laughs)

Ross: that’s what we really like about these songs as well, they are so simple in their construction, there are no mathematical riffs to remember or strange time signatures to remember, it’s about getting up there, playing the songs and having a good time.

Barry: I’d say that the build up over the previous four albums have been a kind of apprenticeship to this stage that we’ve arrived at now and once you get to that stage it’s almost validation of what you’ve achieved and you can then look at things objectively and say right what can we do now?

Q. Have you heard Todd Rundgren’s 1985 album ‘Acapella’? If so was it an influence on the concept?

Barry: You mean Dolph Lundgren? (Laughs)

Ross: It’s when he sampled himself and used the vocals through a synth type emulator.

Barry: oh no, no I haven’t heard, I’d like to though definitely.

Jaff: I saw him when he came over for the ‘A Wizard, A True Star’ gigs in Hammersmith and that was amazing although I wasn’t too sure about him also doing the blues band stuff at the start but the main show was really great.

Barry: It might be a good idea actually to have a bad support band then the crowd is so appreciative of the first note of your set (laughs)

Q. What are the plans for The Futureheads for the summer/rest of the year?

Ross: We have a handful of festivals through the summer and a gig at Shepherds Bush Empire coming up, then after we will be releasing the next part of the acoustic albums. We have also been recording each of our shows on the tour so hopefully we’ll have a live album out as well to follow.

Q. Can the fans expect a return to the electric line up after?

Ross: Yes well we have a gig next week that’s full on band, so sooner than they think (laughs).

Barry: It’s been a very rejuvenating experience playing acoustic and acapella so going back to electric instruments after such a long time off will be exciting, we can’t wait.

Thank you

Many thanks to Chris and Ric at Artrocker

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