"It was long enough for people to have missed us, but not so long that we need to approach the stages in Zimmer frames!" - hmv.com talks to The Futureheads
'Uh oh oh, uh oh oh...', few opening bars in music are so instantly recognisable as The Futureheads' 2005 re-working of Kate Bush's classic 'Hounds Of Love'. A Top 10 hit at the time, it remains a staple of indie discos to this day and is guaranteed to bring a smile to a generation of fans the second those opening acapella vocals waft out of a radio.
It was the crowning glory of a hugely successful time for the band and their eccentric brand of indie post-punk they'd showcased on their self-titled debut album. Formed in 2000 in their native Sunderland, the band, who comprised guitarist Ross Millard, guitarist/singer Barry Hyde, bassist David "Jaff" Craig and drummer Dave Hyde, stood apart from their sharp-riffed and synth-laden contemporaries with their taste for all-encompassing harmonies and frenzied melodies.
They've stood apart in what they've done in the last few years since too.
After their self-titled debut, the band released three further albums and an acapella collection, but, after 2012, they wound things right down. As well as producing solo projects, the foursome have branched out, Craig is a primary school teacher, Millard does graphic design, David Hyde plastering and Barry works as a music teacher.
Indeed, it looked for a long time like it might be the last we'd hear from the band, but, somewhere in the last two years, the band began working again and have now returned with a new album Powers.
Technically it's been seven years since the band's last album, 2012's Rant, but in reality, it's been almost a decade. Rant was an acapella album, a mixture of covers and new takes on the band's earlier works. The last time the four had an album of all-new material was 2010's The Chaos.
Powers doesn't have the frenzy of the band's earlier work, but it's still vintage Futureheads, full of charm, whimsy and big, big choruses.
As the album drops onto hmv's shelves, we spoke to The Futureheads' frontman Barry Hyde about why, after such a long gap, the band decided to return with a new album...
It’s been almost a decade since your last album of new material, why did you decide the time was right to return with a new LP?
"I guess it was a series of developments within our personal lives that allowed us to have the conversation. It was clearly that there was a willingness to try and make some new music together, rather than play some heritage gigs. It was a hiatus of about seven years, which is a nice amount of time. Long enough for people to have missed us but not so long that we need to approach the stages in Zimmer frames!"
When did this album come together? Have you been writing for all that time?
"We've all had various creative projects and never stopped being musicians. The writing took place over the course of about seven months with another four months of tweaking in the studio. For the most part, we could only record one day a week!"
Has the way songs get written changed? Or do things just move a little slower now?
"I think we have been more thorough with these songs than pretty much any album, with exception of our debut. Having those gaps of time in-between sessions was helpful in putting together an album that has variety. Each song is its own world and they all come together nicely! If I may say so myself!"
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"I wouldn't say there is a conscious theme, like a concept album. The creation was very much music-driven. It was all about the riffs, but there are songs about Brexit, a near-death experience had involving electricity, mental illness, society, childbirth. Just normal stuff!"
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"I'm not sure, exactly. Possibly 'Electric Shock'. That one is bloody hard!"
And which came together most quickly?
"Probably 'Across The Border'. It's simple but it kicks like a mule. It's got a great vocal performance from Ross (Millard, guitarist) too."
When did you decide on Powers for the album title? Were any other titles in contention?
"Powers just seemed to fit. It refers to energy really and also the special power that the band has. Which is our friendship. We have all poured every available ounce of energy and love into this record. It represents the culmination of all of our powers."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"We are doing some in-stores and a hometown gig to celebrate the album release!"
You’ve got six records now, how will you decide what will go in your live set?
"An elaborate version of 'spin the bottle' usually works. If not we just pick songs that we are excited to play and try and get a good blend from the back catalogue. Would it be a Futureheads gig if we didn't play the hits? Probably not..."