Interview with Ross Millard from The Futureheads 08.12.08

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The FutureheadsThe new album has proved to be a success so far, but what can you promise fans who haven’t heard it yet?

The idea behind it is that it’s back to the blue print that we had for the first record, but it’s more straight forward and it’s simpler. And it’s played harder and faster and it’s louder than our previous albums.

How would you describe your style and who are your influences?

The fundamental elements of what we do are four part harmony punk rock band, where the live show depends on a lot of energy and a lot of crowd participation. As far as influences go, we put the band together in the beginning, because we loved the likes of Wire and The Clash and all that sort of post punk stuff. Now, because that’s all in your DNA, you get more influences from a story you read in the newspaper or a person you meet at a show.

You’re under your own record label now, is this a welcome change for you?

Yeah, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done, because it’s fifty percent less people who come and steal the rider at the end of the day! Truthfully ever musician is a control freak and it’s easier to keep an eye on things when you’re on the label.

Would you ever take new bands under the label?

I think we could if we wanted to, but the whole idea of us doing it is to gain control and we wouldn’t really want to be the boss of anyone else. I know other bands do it but it’s not really for us.

Are you proud of your Sunderland roots, and are there any up and coming bands from the area you think are ones to watch out for?

We’re massively proud of our roots. Sunderland hasn’t really got an enormous heritage of Indie rock bands, but there was a healthy scene when we were starting out and I think there is once again now. I live in Newcastle now, Barry lives in Glasgow, but the other two guys are still living there, and we still rehearse there. There’s a band on tonight actually from the North East, not too far from Sunderland, called Love Bites and Bruises, who are a big tip for next year from me for sure.

After a two year break from the UK charts, how does it feel to be back in the spotlight?

Nice, because we didn’t expect it this time. We made a record off the radar and expected it to stay that way. We would have been happy if we could have been self sufficient, just doing our own thing and existing in our own world, but it is really nice to be in the charts and have people coming to see your shows – its mega.

With this being your third album, do you think it’s a make or break situation for the band?

Well it was at the time of making it. I think we knew if we messed this record up then we probably wouldn’t make another one, not because the industry wouldn’t allow it, but because there’s only so many mistakes you can make as a four piece before you all start hating each other. But things are good at the moment, I think we’ve learnt a lot over the years, and we’re closer now than we ever have been.

Do you have any personal favourite songs from the new album?

‘Beginning of the Twist’ is my favourite song because it’s come to symbolize an awful lot for us.

How has your winter tour gone so far, are you enjoying it?

Yeah, we’ve only played a handful of shows over here so far because we’re on the back of our European tour; it feels like we’re two thirds of the way through an extremely long tour. We live for touring and it’s the most enjoyable part of doing this. The studio is just kind of a means to an end really.

Have you played in Cardiff before? Also which city in the UK has the best crowds?

Well we’ve played the Cardiff Student Union Great Hall a couple of times, and we’ve played at Barfly a couple of times years ago, but we’ve never played at Sub 29 before. I don’t know, the UK is an odd one, because every major city has an equally good audience. Sometimes you can be surprised when you go to a smaller town and the kids there are so hungry for a show that they just go nuts. We played at Whitehaven in Cumbria a few nights ago, and we were dreading it beforehand because we were wondering how it was gonna go, but the audience were crazy, it was more mad than we’ve ever had. It’s unpredictable really.

When the band first started did you ever think you’d reach this level of fame?

No not at all, we started the band as a hobby, with just the hope of playing a few local shows, and we had no idea that we’d end up doing it seven years later.

You’ve recently toured the US – How did your American fans compare to your British fans?

Good, we did a lot of touring in America with the first two records, and not so much on this one because we did Europe a lot more. We were in America in June, and it was nice to get back out there, it felt like people had been waiting for us, which for your ego is a really healthy thing, it’s flattering.

Your cover of ‘Hounds of Love’ has been a huge success for you; do you ever get sick of being asked to play it?

No, because I remember going to see Pulp at Leeds festival one year, and them not playing ‘Common People’ and their other hits, and I remember being really annoyed. If you pay good money to see a band and they don’t play their hit songs, then it’s a rip off frankly. We’ve got enough songs now to vary our set lists, but there are a few that we’ll always play.

And finally, where would you like to be in ten years time – still in the music industry?

I’d like to still be a musician, and I’d like to still be in this band with these individuals, we’re really close. If I wasn’t doing this then I’d have absolutely nothing to do with the music industry, it’s quite hideous actually.