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Futureheads on Brownstock and singing a capella
12:00am Thursday 30th August 2012 in Features
IT’S not every band that could get away with releasing an album of nothing but close harmony a cappella tracks – but then, the Futureheads are not every band.
They first broke on to the music scene in 2005, when their cover of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love was named single of the year by music magazine, NME. Since they, they have continued to put their own individual stamp on everything they do. For this year’s album, Rant, they completely ditched their instruments to sing unaccompanied, to the delight of fans and critics alike.
They’ll be showcasing some of the new songs, along with classic Futureheads favourites when they headline the Sunday main stage at this year’s Brownstock festival, near South Woodham Ferrers.
Guitarist Ross Millard said: “We’ve been playing music together for more than ten years, “I think any band which has been together that long will have had periods when they felt the need to change what they were doing. “For us, it was a refreshing change to do something where the rules are so stuck and so different from what we are used to. I think we’ve become much better singers because of it. It was really nice, doing a different type of record and trying something different.”
The band were already no strangers to close harmonies and found their four voices blended together nicely for the new record, giving fans one familiar aspect to compensate for the lack of guitars and drums.
It led the band to explore the world of folk music and sea shanties, as they looked for inspiration, something Millard admits with hindsight, was a brave venture.
He says: “An a capella album for some people might be overkill. A dozen tracks with nothing but voices is a lot to ask of the listener, but I think there’s enough dynamism in the songs to keep people listening.
“There are some, traditional songs as well as some from our own back-catalogue and some unusual covers. It was a journey of discovery through acapella music.
“I think there’s a rightness about people singing without any accompaniment. There’s an emotional expression that maybe playing a guitar doesn’t have.”
The folk influence is borne out in the band’s current live incarnation, which is prone to swap its electric guitars for mandolins and banjos. The Futureheads formed in Sunderland more than a decade ago when brothers Barry and Dave Hyde met Millard and bassist David Craig as part of a youth music project.
It wasn’t long before the Futureheads’ songs were on the radio, the shows were getting bigger and more and more people were coming.
The band went through a rocky patch when they split from their record label, but Millard says it worked out for the best, as they set up their own record label.
Millard says the band is looking forward to Brownstock and promises fans expecting to hear hits such as Hounds of Love and Beginning of the Twist won’t be disappointed.
He says: “Over the past few years, festivals like this seem to have sprung up around the country – smaller ones that don’t have the massive corporate atmosphere. “A lot of bands prefer playing them and we’re certainly excited about it. For festivals we include a bit of that, but it’s mainly our back catalogue.”