Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Futureheads On... The Music - Part Four of Four


Though the business side of their career courts its own focus these days, it’s only fair that The Futureheads are given the chance to elucidate on that thing they’re known for: the music. Not only theirs, but the stuff they love, hate and love to hate.

I reckon ‘Sale Of The Century’ (on the new album) is my favourite thing you’ve ever done. Really ferocious, very Joy Division.
Jaff: We didn’t even want that one on the album!
David: It was a contentious one, I remember it well.
Jaff: Us two were outvoted. But lots of people are saying that to us about that one.

It does sound completely different to anything you’ve done before.
David: Yeah, you’ve got to take yourself outside of the recording world and let somebody else tell you what’s good or bad.

What are the setlists like now?
Jaff: Seven old, seven new, one from News and Tributes.

Why? Because the fans don’t want to hear the second album?
Jaff: Yep.
David: And ‘cause we can’t play it!
Jaff: It’s too hard.
David: We can play them…
Jaff: They’ve got a million vocal tracks.
David: We found that when we started playing the songs off this album it brought the energy down.
Jaff: They relied too much on precision.David: Like we’d play ‘He Knows’ and then go on to ‘Thursday’, and it was just…

Was it to do with the way the second album was produced then?
David: Yeah.
Jaff: And the way it was written. And the idea we had writing it was to make a record that’d sound good on stereos rather than…
David: …rather than gigs. It was arrogant.
Jaff: Oh aye. We thought we’d get away with that. We did it, and it was hard to do. We’re still very fond of the record but it’s not for live.

Did Youth’s production really change the sound of this album?
Jaff: Massively. He couldn’t really be bothered with fannying about.
David: Doodling, self-indulgence...
Jaff: We’d lay the song up on the morning, work on the bass for an hour – try this, try that – then do the bass, the drumming, the guitars, the vocals, the rest of the guitars, the rest of the vocals…
David: It was very quick.

David: Mostly because of the heat (the band recorded This Is Not The World in Andalucia).
Jaff: Aye, they were long days.
David: I was done by three o’clock everyday, go and have a few drinks.
Jaff: I had to drive.

You were out there in the mountains somewhere weren’t you?
Jaff: Aye, it were brilliant like.

This album feels a lot more, well, technical. Technically put together, structure-wise. I probably haven’t quite got the right word but…
David: No, I know what you mean. The first one was a lot busier.
Jaff: Our third record is a lot more traditional. We couldn’t start a song until the lyrics were finished and the chorus was finished.

Was the album all written before you got to the studios?
Jaff: No, we wrote 20 songs when were out there – it was pretty intense. We were there for three weeks so...
David: …there was time for the beach.
Jaff: Torremolinos!
David: It was brilliant.

Blimey, talk about polar opposites!
David: Yeah!

What are you both listening to these days?
Jaff: Let me try and think what the last thing I bought was… ah, the MGMT record. It’s very good. We just did a little tour with them and CSS.
David: I’ve been listening to The Rolling Stones the whole time. I hated them for years and now I love them. I don’t really listen to new music, can’t be dealing with all that crap.Jaff: Not gonna be as good as ‘Sticky Fingers’ mate, is it?
David: No, nothing can be as good as ‘Sticky Fingers’.

You sound like a 50 year-old man, Dave…
David: Yeah I don’t like any of this nu-rave business, I can’t be arsed with it.

What else can’t you stand?
Dave: Alphabeat!(Jaff gives him a sly look)
Dave: Do you like that one, Jaff?
Jaff: It’s great! It’s brilliant, it’s a classic!
Dave: I think we’re going in different directions…
Jaff: I’m definitely gonna play that one when I DJ, like. It’ll send the pulses up like David Bowie! If I’m gonna be brutally honest, there’s a trend in the UK at the minute for guitar bands. Not only do a lot of dreadful bands get signed, but a lot of dreadful bands get to be quite big. There’s a load of mediocrity on the live scene that’s come from record companies signing guitar bands and trying to make them pop bands. There’s a lot of dreadful ones. They all just write songs like (in stupid voice) “That’s nice/oh my god/got drunk/na na na” – the lyrics just sprawl on and on. There’s no rhythm, no melody, no metre, no…

The Futureheads On... Nostalgia and The Band Dynamic - Part Three Of Four


At this stage in their collective career, it’s inevitable that the members of The Futureheads know each other inside out. Their highs and lows have been most publicly condensed into the past eighteen months, but behind the scenes there’s a whole lot more going on.

What’s been the highest moment in your careers so far?
David: Meeting Dennis Hopper. We did a TV show in LA and he came into our dressing room with his son. He had our album with him and wanted it signed for his son. We were like ‘wow’!Jaff: I think for me it was Glastonbury 2005, when ‘Hounds of Love’ was out.
David: Yeah that was brilliant.

What do you want in the next couple of years?
Jaff: Hopefully me Knighthood. Not really! I guess I just want to see this record do better than the others. I’d like to see it come out and be given a chance. I think it’s really good and I’m really proud of it. I feel like we should be given the chance – I’m sounding a bit emo – I think we’re a pretty good band.

Well yeah, you have come back into favour. It was all a bit unfair after News and Tributes really wasn’t it? How did you feel back then?
David: I can’t really remember it.
Jaff: What you gonna do? You can’t make people like the music, can you? You can’t go away and make an album and say “we’re gonna make a song that people like”. And if they don’t like it you can’t go “oh no” (puts on whiney voice).
David: You just do what you’ve got to do and see what happens.

Has the band dynamic changed?
Jaff: It totally has I think, yeah.
Dave: Aye.Jaff: I think we know each other so well now. We wind each other up constantly - I quite enjoy trying to wind Ross up. I’m probably more miserable than I used to be, I used to be a right laugh!

Today must be a good day then!
David: I think that’s a bit harsh on yourself, Jaff.
Jaff: Er…er, nah.
David: Yeah.

It can’t be completely easy living out of each others pockets on tour and stuff.
Jaff: Well exactly. When you go out with someone you get on amazing for the first year and then start fighting all the time. The fact is there’s loads of testosterone flying about.
David: Recently we had our first big, like, er… (Jaff starts laughing) well our first big band fight. It was over and done and it worked.
Jaff: It was good. We don’t want to get into it.
David: It was our first fight.Jaff: Bearing in mind it was probably my fault.

Was it violent?
David: No, it wasn’t.
Jaff: No.
David: It could’ve got violent!
Jaff: It was good! It was a kind of process.
David: A release.
Jaff: I think there’s a lot of things that people don’t say sometimes and when you see someone for three weeks by the end they’re getting on your nerves, like. The next time it takes two weeks and then next time it takes one week, and you realise you’re all getting on each others nerves and someone will say something and you’ll just snap. I said some things I pretty much regretted straight away, but I felt like I should’ve said them anyway and everyone at least knew what I thought. It was good.
Dave: It was.
Jaff: It was a good little process, pretty mad though.
I shan’t press you on it any more.
David: I remember Jaff calling Barry ‘Barry Mozart’.
Jaff: Ssh!(mass laughter and knowing looks occur)
David: That was pretty much the funniest part. It was very, very funny.

The Futureheds On... Themes and Inspirations - Part Two Of Four


The Futureheads are notoriously difficult to pigeonhole. The lyrics have ranged from being dressed up in frantic barbershop quartet style harmonies (typically on their first album), in sparser structures (on News And Tributes) or in bigger radio rock anthems (on their latest LP). The one thing that’s remained is a general feeling of distance from the world around them, a frustration – even an obsession - with broader issues that are out of their control.

To me, this album feels the most personal. I’m not sure if I’m right on that one?
Jaff: Yeah, I think it is. It came out of a conflict. And when Barry and Ross write the words three albums in they’re not scared to say certain things. They realise it’s ok to have certain ways about you. It’s ok to talk about feelings so long as you don’t use the word ‘feeling’. I do think it’s a lot more personal, you can see into the band’s psyche a little bit more.
David: We’ve got more involved in this album with us doing it all ourselves, like. As far as myspace and getting involved – we do stupid video clips and stuff. It’s something we’ve never done before.

Had you ever contemplated doing that sort of thing before?
Jaff: We couldn’t, we weren’t allowed to.
David: This album’s been fun in that way – we can finally get the fans to observe what we’re about and how we do it. Yeah, it’s a good thing.

I’ve noticed how much time crops up as a theme on all of your material.
Jaff: You are probably the first person that’s noticed that.

You must be joking?
Jaff: No! It’s true - ‘Broke Up The Time’ on this album, half the songs on the first album – ‘Trying Not To Think About Time’, ‘He Knows’, ‘Meantime’… And ‘Everything’s Changing Today’ on This Is Not The World.

Why does it figure so much? It’s a pretty bold, all-encompassing thing.
Jaff: Barry is pretty scared of getting old. Though most of the time ones are Ross’s.
David: Yeah, the ones from the first record.

Do those two come to you with the lyrics then? Do you always know what the songs are about?Jaff: Yeah, yeah we do. I mean, you know what they’re about. That’s the thing about lyrics though – if you don’t know what the song’s about then you can’t relate to it. And if you can’t relate to a song then it’s not a very good song. Why would anyone from Sunderland ever listen to American bands if it wasn’t for lyrics? Our lives are so different. People like foreign music. It doesn’t matter where the people are from, it’s how they write the song.

I’ve noticed that there seem to be a fair amount of external forces you’re switched on to. Stuff around you. What inspires you to fight against them?
David: What do you mean?
Jaff: Like what?

Well of course I mean time as one example, but lyrically The Futureheads are extremely challenging. It’s nigh on abstract concepts sometimes; deep stuff that you don’t really tend to hear from artists that’ve broken into the mainstream.
Jaff: Yeah I think you’re right. We write about things that affect us. Things we care about. I think we are quite easily affected by things. We don’t have to have to have a vision, we comment on things - especially lyrically. Yeah you are right. You’re quite good at this, like! People don’t pick up on this sort of stuff normally.
David: She’s good. She’s very good.
Jaff: We never get asked these types of questions!
David: It’s normally ‘What shoes do you like?’
Jaff: Seriously, you’re right. We do care about things. It’s that observational thing we find interesting.
David: I think Barry and Ross are very aware of not writing about going out on a Saturday night and getting bevvied up and all that crap. There’s no blasé lyric writing.
Jaff: With the first record the lyrics were very much a means to an end, to getting the song finished.
David: Yeah.

Wow, I find that surprising.
David: Aye.
Jaff: The riffs would normally come first.D
avid: And then the lyrics.

‘Radio Heart’ – it’s pretty bold. Do you want to want to change the way people think or is it just an observational thing?
Jaff: It’s observational, yeah. I wouldn’t like the lead quote on this piece to say “The Futureheads want to change people”!

I’ll try rephrasing that question – how about, do you want to make people more aware of the world around them or is it just an observational thing?
Jaff: Better. Yeah, I think that is why you write songs. Though you write songs and you know they’re not listening. You write lyrics ‘cause you want people to notice. It’s all about a point of view.