Interview with The Futureheads lead singer Barry Hyde: Southport Rocks exclusive

Posted on 12 July 2011
By Richard Lewis
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Relaxing backstage at Southport Rocks prior to their headline slot, Barry Hyde reminisced about The Futureheads’ early days.

The reason the band became so proficient at harmony vocals early on in their career was largely technology related.

Barry explained: ‘It was because the PA wasn’t loud enough. I’d be stood around singing and I remember thinking, ‘Why is it just me singing?’ So the others all started to join in. We were really inspired by the Beach Boys’ harmonies.’

After this year’s touring is completed, The Futureheads will concentrate on their next album.

The new LP, succinctly titled Rant, will be out next year and will mark a radical departure for the band.

Barry explained, ‘It’s going to be entirely a cappella. There’s going to be no guitar, no drums, maybe some vocal percussion, but that’s all.’

‘We see the first four albums as a set and this will be a full-stop to them, the next four will be really different.’

‘It was originally Ross’ (rhythm guitar/vocals) idea to do the LP. We’ve been together for 10 years now and we see this as a way to book-end the decade.’

Talking of inspiration for the album Barry said, ‘We were partly inspired by (80s a cappella group) The Flying Pickets. They were great singers but their tracks were a bit asexual sounding. We want this to be more rough.’

The band’s watertight harmonies, a hallmark of their sound were praised following a Radio One Live Lounge Session.

The band covered Kelis’ track Acapella in an acclaimed broadcast. The R n’ B star gave the rendition her personal seal of approval when she was later interviewed on Radio One and the song was played to her.

Barry explained the recording was nearly completion.

‘We’ve got 11 tracks completed so far, we’ve got three more recording sessions, which is 16 hours of studio time and it’ll be finished.’

The tracklisting for Rant isn’t completely finalised as yet, Barry gave us an insight into the tracks that will definitely appear. ‘Man Ray, Meantime and one of our songs I think is under-rated, Thursday off the second LP will certainly be on there.’

Other songs that will feature include, ‘Four old folk songs, we’re definitely going to cover Bee’s Wing by Richard Thompson and some North Eastern folk songs.’

The band’s own record label, Nul which has released their last two albums is also going to put out releases by other artists.

The Futureheads are focusing on their hometown of Sunderland and the North East generally for the label’s releases.

Barry said, ‘We’ve got plans for our own label, we’re definitely gonna put out an album of songs from the North East folk scene. We’ve been like (folk music archivist) Alan Lomax, tracking down these old folk songs. We want them to be more recognised.’

With another half a dozen dates on the calendar following Southport Rocks, the band then play the Split Festival in early September, which they founded three years ago.

The event won’t feature the band this year as participants on stage, but the bill has been personally programmed by them, as in previous years.

In keeping with The Futureheads’ determination to put something back into their home town, the festival will be focused on acts from the local area.

Frankie and the Heartstrings, who have had an incredible 12 months are on the bill, along with fellow North Easterners The Drums plus festival faves The Charlatans.

Another band that will appear is Hyde and Beast, a side project of the band that includes ‘Heads drummer David Hyde, Barry’s brother.

The other half of the project is Neil Bassett, formerly of The Golden Virgins. Live, the duo are joined by Barry, playing piano.

Describing the duo as a ‘Full-on work, with a retrospective, psychedelic 60s sound’, touring with the act had other advantages, the singer explained.

‘I’ve been playing piano on tour for them. It’s good playing piano, sat at the side of the stage at gigs. I don’t have to take as many clothes
on the road, cos I’m not jumping around sweating!’

Barry talked about how many summer shows the band are playing this year. The singer says of the summer outings, ‘You lose track of all time, weeks don’t exist anymore, you don’t learn the name of the day. Festivals are great, you can guarantee the atmosphere is going to be amazing.’

Having become veterans of the festival circuit in the UK and Europe, the band decided to change tack slightly this year. Barry said, ‘We’re playing smaller festivals this year, not the bigger weekends.’

Before Purple Revolver departed we asked the singer what was the best festival he had attended, onstage or off.

Barry said, ‘The biggest festival we’ve ever played was the Op’ner Festival in Poland. That was 300,000 people. It’s run by a Hare Krishna brotherhood, it’s got this really cool anti-corporate vibe to it.’

‘Glastonbury is always amazing. I’ve never been to Glasto as a punter though.’

‘I went to Leeds Festival in 1999, that was memorable. The best set of the weekend was The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, they had this amazing vintage rock n’ roll sound.’

Photos by Marie Hazlewood