The Futureheads: Rise of the Machines

I've just moved back in with me mam in Sunderland if you're after a glamorous story

Feature by Jasper Hamill | 15 Jun 2006
Barry from the Futureheads has been spotted everywhere around town in recent times: at a Bricolage gig, buying sausages at the farmers' market in Partick and meeting a man about a dog.

In the charts too, they've been seen plugging their excellent new album, 'News and Tributes', with a video in which we get to see the hipsters' entire wardrobes as the camera pans past hurriedly and another which is a mysterious, near surrealist trip into the psyche of a newly wed couple.

Chatting with Dave Hyde, the drummer and brother of lead singer Barry, he claims "the second album is more an album this time. When we recorded the first one it was just a collection of songs." The band, first heard on a Rough Trade post-punk compilation playing a slowed down version of Robot that sounds more like The Super Furry Animals than the brittle, sharpened angular sound they've made their trademark, the band "just started to play things a little faster," for the first record.

Live shows, an hour of twitching intensity from the band, have become a little easier recently with the addition of a "few slow songs. Performing like that for an hour is bloody exhausting so I'm glad to be able to take a breather, maybe have a fag, on the slow numbers."

Recorded in five and a half weeks with producer Paul Epworth, who first encouraged the band to play at the breakneck speed they now play at, the album is an evolution of the band's trademark sound. The four piece harmonies that characterise the band's work were started when "Barry came in and forced us to sing." The style, which involves "just doing anything into the mic: shouting yelping, harmonising, whatever," gave the band "a breadth to the sound." Lumped in with the current rash of arty, angular bands Barry insists that "there's no lovey-dovey scene. We don't hang around together or anything. I've just moved back in with me mam in Sunderland if you're after a glamorous story."

The band certainly seems to flirt with artistic conceits, even if Barry doesn't know what "it means to call a band arty." The Skinny asks if they were commenting on the Situationists, whose approach to perceiving the city has influenced the Parkour free runners of the Paris suburbs, in their song 'The City is Here For You to Use." He seemed unsure, replying "I think so." The cut-up style of the lyrics, which have a logic which is almost mathematic, sounding like a string of linguistic equations ("this is a brand new problem, a problem without any clues, if you know the clues, it's easy to get through") were inspired be the "almost robotic way we put our tunes together."

The juddering, confusing time signature shifts and song structures are bewilderingly complex, even whilst they sound intuitively simple. Barry says that "our songs are meant to be played live, but they're bloody hard to get to grips with." The band originally wanted to "play like machines, dead fast but with humans on the microphones," and their spiky, slightly impenetrable sound has the precision you'd expect of a computer programmer. Barry laughs at this, insisting "we just want to do something mad, you know?"
Futureheads play T in the Park, Balado on July 9
'News and Tributes' is out now.