The Futureheads headline the opening night of the Ramsbottom Festival on September 13. Other acts include Sinead O’Connor, previously interviewed by Northern Soul’s editor.
I was lucky enough to have 15 minutes on the phone with Barry Hyde, their lead singer. He’s a lovely fella. If you get a chance, do go and support them.
How do you feel about playing the Ramsbottom Festival?
We’re really looking forward to playing at this festival – we’ve never played there before. It’s always good to play somewhere new. I’d actually visited earlier in the year and been to the Chocolate Festival. I got the phone call a few weeks later.
Excellent. What’s the biggest gig you’ve ever played?
We did one in Poland at a festival called Woodstock. We played in front of 300,000 people. It was terrifying. But very enjoyable. It’s a free festival and 500,000 people because its one of the biggest gigs in Europe.
How does where you’re born and where you’re from influence your music?
That’s quite a difficult question because where you’re born has a huge influence on you and who you are. It’s influenced every part of me, but at the same time you’re your own person.
You sing in your own accent don’t you?
We’ve certainly never tried to obscure it. We don’t put on a voice at all. We’re from the North East – it is part of our identity.
What about your favourite songs and singers that have influenced you?
We realised that a lot of our favourite singers, when we heard them doing interviews and compared their singing voice, it was the same voice. That inspired me to sing naturally.
How do people react to that?
A lot of people think we are a Geordie band. But we have gone beyond that. It defines who you are but doesn’t completely colour your view of the world. As you get older you realised that the culture is unique to your town and part of environment. We’ve been lucky to do a lot of travelling. Every time we go somewhere you take a bit of it away with you. This helps you make sense of the world rather than the town or city where you’re from.
Do you think you’d ever live in London?
I like London but I don’t think I’d like to live there. But I love spending time there. If I were to move anywhere, I think it would be to New Zealand.
Why New Zealand?
It’s like the North East, it’s like Sunderland. It’s a quiet place.
Going back to Sunderland, that’s where you all met each other at an early age isn’t it?
We all met at college at a youth project in Sunderland that was based round music. It was designed basically for kids who could be criminals to engage in something less dangerous. But what really happened was it was a club for the kids who were scared of the kids who were stealing cars.
When was that?
That was back in 1997/8. We were very young. We got the band together in 2000. Our drummer was only 15 and he was 16 when we went on our first European tour.
What was that like?
It was an amazing experience at such a young age. It was like living a dream. Although we took a big risk, we started to do a lot of gigs within a space of three or four years. We’ve literally done hundreds of gigs in America, Australia, Japan and within Europe.
Which musicians do you love?
I love Billie Holliday, Frank Sinatra, Chrissie Hynde, Elvis Costello and Tom Waits.
Me too! I love those singers, especially Elvis Costello and Tom Waits. Why those ones?
They’re all good, like. But what makes them different is it feels as if they’re in the room with you, giving you a part of their soul or identity.
What other bands have influenced the Futureheads?
Style-wise, its bands like the Wire, Buzzcocks, the Clash and new wave punk bands. We’re called a new wave revival band. But we’re also influenced by the rhythm and melodies of the Beatles and Beach Boys.
What’s your greatest achievement so far?
I think it has been managing when we are based in the North East and getting our music out there, performing all over the world, selling records. Being successful is our biggest achievement.
Moving forward what do you hope to achieve?
I would like to change peoples’ views of us as people may associate us with a certain style – but I’d like to expand on that. Our last album release, Rant, was an acapella album and it almost felt like being a new band. It added a new dimension to our music.
What about Ramsbottom, how do you feel about coming back?
It’s a really pretty place, and it was strange being there and getting the call a few weeks later. I love playing little festivals as you never know what to expect. They can be much more exciting and idiosyncratic than bigger festivals, which can feel more corporate.
Agh. I think my time’s up. You’ve been great. Good luck with the festival.
Interview by Helen Carter
Main image by Ian West
What: Ramsbottom Festival.
Where: Ramsbottom Cricket Ground, near Bury
When: September 13-15, 2013
More info: www.ramsbottomfestival.com