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The Futureheads Interview PDF Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Dipper   
29 06 2010
ImagePunk-rockers The Futureheads have had a busy year or so. Having toured America, recorded their new album, entitled The Chaos, and organised (and headlined) the first Split Festival in Sunderland, the Wearside band are looking to take more of a back-seat role at this year's event at Ashbrooke Sports Club. Andrew Dipper caught up with The Futureheads front-man Barry Hyde at this year's press conference to chat about their new album, the evolution of the band and why Split Festival is important to the city of Sunderland. Here goes:

AD: You've just come back from a US tour with The Futureheads - how was that?

BH: It was great, yeah. We did three gigs in New York, and they were all really good. I loved Washington DC. It's DC - it's punk rock, everyone's got tattoos, loads of illuminati architecture everywhere. It's a really interesting place. We played there on a Friday night, and we all know Friday nights are the best night to play a gig anywhere, be it Japan or Gibraltar. So we had a wonderful time out there. We're priveledged. Since making our fourth album, which is called The Chaos, we've experienced an incredible change to what happens to us. - we're getting opportunities we've never had. I've been asked to be a guest columnist for The Times; I'm writing a piece for Bizzare magazine; we're writing a punk-rock vampire musical; and we're going to release two acappella albums. In fact, I think we'll do a bit of acappella at this year's Split.


AD: You've been marketed as ‘A special appearance by The Futureheads' for this year's Split Festival. What's the plan for that then?

BH: I want to do a few ten minute sets - maybes three. One at the start, one at the middle and one near the end. We'll be around to get people singing and in the spirit.
AD: So, how did the idea for Split Festival come about?

BH: I think it came about from the fact that The Futureheads did their first ever gig in this room [Ashbrooke Sports Club] ten years ago, and, because of that, we've always been fond of here and we've always to come back here as well. It came to the point where the club were in some financial difficulties. They needed to think of a new way to invigorate the club, so Rob Deverson [Festival & Club Chairman] got in contact with me through Paul Amundsen and Richard Amundsen for us to do a gig here. I was well up for that, but me and Richard thought, ‘Why don't we do more than that? Why don't we do something that's going to be annual?'

That, we thought, would be more beneficial to the club and to Sunderland, too. The last festival we had here in Sunderland was Radio One's Big Weekend, which required a lot of funding. If I remember rightly, it was in 2005, and it was on the same day as we played at the Stadium Of Light. We always knew that Sunderland needed this kind of thing, but we weren't of the attitude to realise we could make it happen. For various reasons, we had a moment of clarity and thought, ‘We can do this if we risk it'. And there's a risk involved in Split Festival - if you don't take risks you don't get anything. You don't get any rewards. So we're trying and succeeding to establish a festival that, one day, we might decide to give the task of organising it to somebody else.

AD:  Is that if/when the festival becomes too big for the current grounds?

No, no. We just want it to continue beyond us so that it's always here, forever. Obviously this will be in quite a long time, but all we want to see this year is smiling faces and a positive influence on the city. We're looking for a family atmosphere mixed with teenage frivolity, pseudo-intellectualism and sexy girls. How about that? [Laughs]

AD: Sounds great to me. You've headlined the first Split Festival last year - was there a lot of pressure on The Futureheads to deliver?

BH: I think there was, yeah. It was a bit nerve-wracking because we sold most of the tickets as the main act, but we did the festival for no fee because we wanted to contribute something that hopefully sets this festival up nicely. We had a big family atmosphere - it was quite charming, I guess. The weather was nice, everyone was enjoying themselves, there was no trouble at all, and it was topped off with a lovely big firework display at the end. It's the type of thing you remember - it's a festival, right? You can't beat that. That's what we want to create, an un-arguable festival where everyone says, ‘You can't beat that, that was something'.


AD: You mentioned in earlier in the press conference about the habitual chaos that ensues every year at Leeds and Reading Festival. Should Split become a major festival like Leeds, how would you cope with that?

BH: It all depends who you bill. You pick the crowd when you pick your line-up. If you just go for these type of bands that just bring lads down, then it will end up like Leeds. But we can stop that from happening by how closely we keep ourselves to the [Split Festival] concept [of a 80/20 split of local and national bands]. If we just let it run away and make a load of money, we would have to deal with the negativity. Is the negativity worth the money? I don't think it is, because then the festival becomes horrible. We're not doing this to make money. We will make money, but money will be paid, and this festival will give us the financial confidence to organise bands for next year. Then you build from there.

AD: The major change since last year appears that you've went from headliner with The Futureheads to complimenting some top acts like Maximo Park at this year's festival.

BH: Yeah, it's good. We've got more top acts this year, and we want to just build and build the festival. We're very lucky to have Maximo Park - they're from the region and they're doing it as a favour, really. It means a lot to us. It's that type of attitude that will allow this festival to thrive. What we'll see, as time goes on, is that the festival will gain somewhat of a national reputation, and then things will become a lot easier. We'll get people ringing us up and saying, ‘Can we have this band on at the festival?', which is the kind of dynamic we want. I mean, take Leeds and Reading for example. You've got to sell your granny to get on that.

AD:  Are you looking forward to doing Leeds this year?

Oh, of course. We're looking forward to doing all the festivals - I think we're doing thirty five this summer. Bloody nora. And then we're off to do two Italian festivals near Pisa. Two gigs then home for a week and a half. Italy's good, but home time's far more rare and exquisite these days. When I'm at home I get to see my wife, I get to see my family, my mates, get on my bike and go to the coast. We've got one of the most amazing coastlines I've ever seen in Sunderland! There are things you can criticise about Sunderland, but there's no point saying them because it doesn't help anyone.

AD: Is that your main aim for Sunderland then - to improve the region?

Yeah, and to improve myself and my organisational skills! You know, one day I'll write a song for this festival and it will mean something. We're already over the moon and proud of Split Festival and we're so grateful to everyone who came last year. Let's keep this going - we'd love anyone who ever comes to bring a friend the next year, and we'll promise to make it better. The bands will be more extraordinary, and the entertainment will be better and better.

AD: Thanks for your time, Barry.

BH: It was a pleasure, thank you.
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