At the end of 2006, The Futureheads were ceremoniously dumped by their label. Relentlessly, they set up their own label (Nul Records), and have just released their third album, This Is Not The World. And here’s Part One of a four-part series documenting Clash’s catch-up session with Jaff (bass) and Dave (drums) in an East London boozer…
What were your initial reactions after being dropped?
Jaff: I think they were mixed within the band – Barry talked about how he was happy, I was worried about how I was gonna pay me mortgage but I was also thinking it was the best thing for the band. I was pretty concerned because I’m the sort of person that likes to know what’s happening in advance. It was a bit of a shock, but artistically it was the best thing that could’ve happened, like. We don’t want to slag major record companies off but they are generally tits. Though they do provide a certain kind of…
Jaff: Yep, yep they do. They pay your wage and they pay for you to go on tour.Dave: But we’ve still got a wage. It never stopped, did it? It’s alright.
There’s a huge sense of defiance on opening track ‘Beginning of The Twist’ but at the same time, it’s very on the edge. Was that related to the stuff that went on with 679?
Jaff: People ask that, but Barry had written that song before we got dropped. The lyrics anyway, and the arrangements came when we were in Spain. I just think it’s a good example of the record as a whole - it’s pretty defiant, it’s pretty rock. It’s upfront and direct, and it’s got that dark twist. The lyrics work perfectly for being first on the album, and as the first single. It’s about mental illness and those hard times in your life. It’s not quite so obvious.Dave: It’s nothing to do with the label.
Do you think the album would’ve gone in the same direction if you hadn’t got dropped?
Dave: Nah, we’d have been miserable.
Jaff: Or we’d have split up.
Jaff: Yeah, we’d have split up. We wouldn’t have had it in us, we couldn’t have been arsed. There’d have been too many decisions to be made. We would’ve have made records.
Wow. Was there ever a midpoint between splitting up and setting up Nul then? Was it going to go this way as soon as you got dropped?
Jaff: We got dropped in October 2006 and then we had a tour in the December which’d already sold out. So we realised it’d sold out and we wanted to do it on our own. We took the Christmas off, and Barry lives in Glasgow. So he came down for Christmas with a bunch of songs and we went from there. We recorded a couple of songs, and got back into it.
Do you think you’d have ever been able to get to where you’re at now without having been signed to 679 for two albums?
Jaff: Nah. And I’ll tell you why – essentially, Warner Bros (owner of subsidiary, 679) had spent about £700k on us. And that’s the kind of thing you can’t equate with really when you start doing it yourself. The capital they put into bands to start with… they were crazy to drop us. They put so much money in.
Jaff: They could’ve signed three bands with the amount of money they put into us – they should’ve given us another chance. But I’m so glad it happened – now we don’t owe them anything and all the money we make’ll be ours. We’ll get more money and make more music.
David: It is more about the music than the money.
Are you sick of talking about the industry side of things yet?
David: Yeah, I’m bored! Nah, joking (he pats Clash on the back to clarify how much fun he’s really having).
Jaff: I love it.
David: We let ourselves in for it really; we’ve been championing ourselves for a few months now. We’re doing it all ourselves. Though I don’t really have a clue about what’s going on on the business side – the others are pretty clued up though.
What’s the day-to-day involvement?
David: We’ve got people doing the everyday stuff. We do our job, they do theirs.
Jaff: It’s the four of us in the band and two managers that set up Nul. We split it all six ways, it’s good.
David: It’s working really well.
What could you offer in terms of advice to new bands? How are they supposed to get the best result from the word go?
Jaff: Just get a good lawyer! It’s different now though - it’s easier to market your music via myspace and things like that. It’s easier. You can get a fanbase without spending money. But it’s hard too because everyone sets the example of the Arctic Monkeys.
David: I don’t think anyone should look at the example of the Arctic Monkeys and say “right, that’s where we’ll go” because it’ll never happen. They sold more copies than The Beatles in the first week their album was released.
Yeah, it’s not a realistic target.
David: It’s cool though. It’s great.
Jaff: They’re a good band but it’s not the norm. I mean, how many bands have myspace sites? Loads.