The Topman CTRL tour arrived in Liverpool this week, taking over the Hold in the Shipping Forecast. Headliners The Futureheads handpicked their support, choosing local heroes Hot Club de Paris and their North Eastern neighbours Frankie and the Heartstrings to provide warm up.
We caught up with the Barry Hyde, the lead singer of The Futureheads, before their set to ask him about celebrating 10 years of the band, what it was like to branch out from a major label to go it alone and the burning question of the moment; who is going to win The X Factor…
This is the 10th year of The Futureheads, which is a big anniversary in anyone’s eyes. How do you plan to celebrate reaching this milestone?
Well on December the 23rd, it’s ten years since our first gig so to mark the occasion we’re going to do a gig! It’s at the Academy in Newcastle and it’s going to be called Futurefest, we’re taking over the two rooms and holding a North Eastern version of All Tomorrow’s Parties. Frankie and the Heartstrings are playing, as well as The Generals, Little Comets… it’s just going to be a massive Tyne and Wear shindig, we’re good mates with the bands we’ve invited to play so I’m really looking forward to it.
The Futureheads sound is often described as post-punk, so it’s quite surprising that one of your most famous tracks is a cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’. What spurred you to cover this song?
Well, we love Kate Bush. But the reason we did that song was because our first ever tour was of German squats, we were touring with a band called Milky Wimpshake. For the tour Jaff our bass player made a mixtape which was in alphabetical order, the first song was by ACDC and the Kate Bush song was the second one on there. The tape was on pretty much constantly and ‘Hounds of Love’ came on we’d all be asking the driver to turn it up, everyone just fell in love with this song. Then I heard the bass player from the other band say that she wanted to cover it and I thought “not if I get there first!”. So as soon as we finished the tour we went home, put that song on, changed the key and did an arrangement of it. We played it at a gig that weekend and the rest is history really…
In 2006 you left a major record label and set up Nul Records, releasing on your own label. What was the impetus behind doing this and what’s the biggest difference since?
The reason we set up Nul Records is because in the modern era it’s very possible to become completely independent. We weren’t happy with Warner Bros, we signed a worldwide deal with them and we were comfortable with how things were progressing in the UK but for the rest of the world it felt like there were people behind the scenes who weren’t particularly interested in the band and didn’t really know what to do with us, which left us feeling disillusioned.
The main difference is that we don’t have as much money. Major record labels have a lot of money to play with, it takes a fair amount of cash to promote an album. So when you strike out on your own you have to be more aware of the financial limitations, which isn’t necessarily the case when you’re under the wing of one of the big players. However there are many plusses to it, for one, we own the copyright to our music. When we set up Nul Records, the first record we put out was ‘The Beginning of the Twist’ and seeing our label printed on the vinyl was an awesome feeling.
Would you say that it’s the internet that’s the main reason it’s made setting up on your own more possible?
Oh definitely, the internet has come along and it’s changed the game. The major labels can’t keep up, it’s too cumbersome for them to control. The internet allows you to set up on your own and get into the nooks and crannys, to integrate yourself within it. You can move a lot quicker because you’ve got fewer people working on the record and those people that are, are the right people.
Topical question now. It’s X Factor finals weekend. Who do you think will win it? Do you care?
My wife watches The X Factor, my mam and my nana watch it. I hate it, my brother hates it, my dad and my friends hate it… at risk of sounding sexist I think it’s a bit of a girl thing. Which is fine! But I think we’d live in a better country if all the people who watch X Factor put their minds to something else; we’d have a better existence. Simon Cowell seems to have become so rich that he looks like an alien, it’s like he can’t contain himself anymore.
You’re releasing a Christmas song (‘Christmas Was Better In The 80’s’). Are you going to try and get the Christmas No. 1?
No, I’ve just always wanted to write a Christmas song. I actually wrote the song earlier this year in Spring, I sat down at my piano and started to try melodies out. It’s about how whatever decade you were born in, Christmas always seems to be better than it is now. It’s essentially about the magic of childhood.
You chose the other bands on the bill tonight, why those two bands in particular?
Hot Club de Paris are a great three piece band who sound very British, really into their three part harmonies. Frankie and the Heartstrings are local lads for me, they come from my hometown and they’re good friends of ours. We were the last band who broke out of Sunderland and I think they’ll be the next from our region to get the spotlight.
So what does 2011 hold for The Futureheads?
I’m going to write the soundtrack for a short film that’s currently in production. As well as that we’re recording two albums, an acapella album that we’ve asked our fans to nominate tracks they’d like us to cover on it and the other will be our sixth studio album. It sounds like we’ll be busy but we’ll be at home and writing a lot so it’s all good.