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The Futureheads PDF Print E-mail
Written by Martyn McFadden   
27 10 2004
The Futureheads group shotIvy house drinking, lego building, spandex wearing, Marks & Spencers shopping, purveyors of rock'n'roll.

In the past - the not so distant past at that - a North Eastern person appearing on the telly, was a monumental event. Crowds of people would flock around the television sets on display in Binns' window; traffic would come to an alert stop; streets would be deserted of children playing; electricity consumption would rocket in our part of the grid. Today however, northern-exposure is a completely different kettle of fishes. Now, seemingly, the world can't get enough of the explosive Geordie wit, and there is never an hour passes without a beaming pasty northern face popping-up with the ubiquitous salutation 'al-reet!' It seems almost passé to even notice. So whilst we're busy being cool, not noticing our recent rise to the forefront of the nation's attention, we thought we'd catch up with the most talked about band of the moment, who just happen to be one of our region's brightest gifts to the world. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Ross from The Futureheads.

FS: So you've been quite busy as of late, gigging and publicity-wise. How many hours on a tour bus does it take before the band goes crazy, and do you need a break from each other yet?

The tour bus is absolutely nothing compared to where we are now. We've been down in London for a fortnight recording, which means the four of us stuck in the same hotel room together. We're constantly in each others' faces. We're sleeping in the same room, and recording kinda 10 till 8 everyday. It's just mental. You need to kinda go off and have a walk on your own. It depends, whether Jaff's singing The Darkness or not, as to how long it takes before we flip. But, probably, I would say around about 10 to 15 minutes, before we all go a bit Jack Nicholson.

FS: In what's been a summer of highlights, what's been the highlight?

We've been really lucky this year, and we've had such a good summer. I think that kinda little run of festivals we did, when we had T in the Park and Witness together on the same weekend. That was such a good weekend, because we did Glastonbury a week or two before and it was the first time we'd played anything like that. That was kinda like finding our feet, and by the time we got to T- in the Park, we'd kinda got the hang of it. So, it was a little bit easier to fit in and work with the crowd and everything. So that weekend was a belter, like.

FS: So during all these festivals, who (apart from running into Floatation Suite at T in the Park) were the most interesting people you've met?

I mean the festivals were good for just sorta hanging out with other people in bands and we made some good friends. Electric Soft Parade and, erm, 80's Matchbox b-line Disaster were cool, and it was really weird, because at Witness, especially the hospitality area was really close knit, so you'd come out of your dressing room and walk a couple of yards up the corridor and The Prodigy's Keith Flint would be playing on computer games - and just stuff like that. We saw a really good friend of ours, a guy called Alex Smith and he's the guy who's directed both of our videos. He's worked with loads of people; he did the ‘Yellow' video for Coldplay and he's done a lot of stuff for The Darkness. He's got exactly the same sort of attitude towards music as we have and he's not afraid to do anything that might look a little bit silly, so like, he's become like a really close friend of ours. He's one of the most inspirational people we've met on our travels so far, I think.

FS: Do you agree that once you've sampled the back-stage area at a festival, there's no going back to communal porta-loos?

It's a tough one! I love going to festivals if the weather is good, but I hate going to festivals if the weather's bad! It's just one of those things. It's really nice to be in hospitality sometimes, but you feel like a bit of a ligger too.

FS: You used to be in the Golden Virgins as well. Did it come to the stage where it had to be one band or the other because you were so busy?

I was always only like a hired hand in the Golden Virgins, because the Virgins had been a band for years beforehand. They needed someone to fill the role of bass player and I wasn't doing anything at the time, so I said I'd do it. But I've always been a guitar player really, so playing the bass was kinda an awkward transition. I suppose it was a case of me trying to fill someone else's shoes - literally. They got some good songs together and stuff and it went really well, but I'd already formed The Futureheads with the lads and that was going really well too - but I'm a song writer in this band, so I suppose the decision really made itself...

FS: Have many women on the streets of Sunderland thrown their knickers at you?

Absolutely, positively, none! I say this without any sarcasm at all. I think we are the least sexual band that I know. Barry is a bit of a repressed sexual deviant, but the rest of us are fairly unassuming. We don't get any of that. I wish we did.

FS: Are your mam's still telling their friends that you're on the telly?

It's weird. The first video got put on a 'video wall' in Topshop. My mother hadn't seen it, so we ended up standing in Topshop for half a day waiting for it to come on. My mother and father have been really supportive and genuinely pleased for the band. I've just finished university and have worked part-time, but I've never had to work full time or felt the pressure of bringing in a wage before. Now I've finished, I've got to start to bring-in an income, and now the band is taking off, hopefully, that can do it for me. I think that's what they want, just to see me do alright.

We've worked really hard for it, but we've been lucky at the same time. It's a case of, being in the right place at the right time; you've just got to work at it and you've got to be up for doing anything - touring, working your arse off, and practicing every day. You've got to put the effort in.

FS: What was the last really 'rock and roll' thing you did?

There isn't really much of that. The last week at this hotel, I've been getting up at 7:50 every day, just to escape the other guys. I don't think we appreciate rock and roll clichés any more. We're fairly clean living guys, we're not really 'drink and drug' types.

FS: What are you looking forward to, these coming few months?

There's a single coming out in October, and we're doing a month-long tour of the UK in support of that. The album will come out early in the New Year. We're hoping to fit in another tour November/December time, so we can keep busy on the road. There's talk of doing a joint headline tour with a couple of bands, one from Scotland called Franz Ferdinand and another from London called Moa, but that hasn't been confirmed yet.

FS: Where would you like to see yourselves in a year's time?

Ordinarily, I'd like to see us doing a tour of the People's Democratic Republic of China, but since Wham's already done that, I think I'd like us to have had an album out, and to be doing quite well. I want us to be still touring with bands that we really like and really respect, keep on doing what we're doing, but on a little bit of a bigger scale.

FS: Will the North East ever give birth to a national 'scene'?

I really hope so. I think the people are starting to realise that there is some really good stuff coming from Newcastle and Sunderland. I know that the scene has been really quiet, but in the last twelve months, a lot of really good bands have emerged. I think there's six or seven good bands that could do just as well as each other, and it's just a case of people weeding them out and spending some time and taking note of them. This Ain't Vegas, The Golden Virgins, Mavis, Paper Cut Out, Unihammer, there's a huge list. I really like Mos Isley, there's a band called the China Towns who I think are really good, from Middlesbrough. The Electronic Eye Machine, The Newtellers, the list goes on. There's such a huge amount of good stuff happening. The best thing is, that the only thing these bands share is their attitude to making music, the ethics of it. None of them sound particularly like each other, which is a good thing. You can always pinpoint a particular sound, like the 'Liverpool Sound' or the 'Glasgow Art Scene', and there isn't really any of that in the North East. It's everyone getting together and helping out, and making a bit of a racket.

Quickfire - (our attempt to ask as many questions in one breath as possible...)

Sunderland or Newcastle? Newcastle (in a living sense)
Glastonbury in the rain or Glastonbury on the telly? Glastonbury in the rain.
The Clash or The Pistols? The Clash.
Space Raiders or Brannigan's crisps? Brannigan's.
The Ivy House or Head of Steam? The Ivy House.
Tomato or Brown sauce? Tomato.
Greggs or Marks and Spencer? Marks and Spencer.
The Darkness or Kings of Leon? The Darkness.
Lego or Scalextrics? Lego.


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