Those English have it good. Not only do they have cool accents, all the good actors and a specified time to drink tea while nibbling on scones, they have a music scene several degrees hipper than we find on our lackluster side of the Atlantic. Now they've found ways to make four-guys-with-guitars rock sound innovative.
"It's really interesting in the UK right now," remarks David Hyde, drummer of the Futureheads. Along with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party, Futureheads is largely responsible for keeping the British scene swinging. "There are a lot of good bands doing well and the UK hasn't had that for a while, it's come back around again. It's especially bizarre for us to do well. We don't really write pop music, but people are still giving it a good chance."
Though not pop music in the traditional sense, the sound the Futureheads explore on their self-titled full-length debut mines the caverns of pop music, liberally taking all of its best elements. Packed to the brim with an endless series of hooks, catchy guitar wails and divine harmonies, The Futureheads is a thrilling and, most importantly, fun ride through angular post-punk at its finest. Yet, what makes the band stand out even more so than their adoption of unconventional song structures and thunderous delivery is the often near doo-wop vocal stylings all four members of the band employ, resulting in an aural smorgasbord unlike anything else being played today.
"We didn't see there being a point in any of us not singing, because everyone [in the band] can sing," Hyde explains. "It was a waste for all of us not to be harmonizing. We liked the idea of a really lush song yet with all this crazy, fast punk music happening at the same time. I think that's kind of what makes us the Futureheads. It was there from day one."
Hailing from the northern city of Sunderland, the Futureheads' membership seemed to be longshots in the ultra-trendy, London-based British music scene. In fact, the band initially set up to not so much reach rock and roll greatness, but to help local kids. Several band members tutored at a local outreach program called the Sunderland City Detached Youth Project and, through this organization, the band known as the Futureheads got on the road of critical adoration they find themselves on today.
"It really did help us get to where we are today," says Hyde. "It was a free rehearsal space, that's going to help straight away. It was basically like a group of people trying to help kids get off the street, to stop them from doing naughty things and get them involved in music. We weren't naughty boys or anything, we weren't truants or thieves or anything like that. We were just going down there to use the space. We wrote songs about drugs and unsafe sex at the time. We weren't taking ourselves that seriously."
If the band itself wasn't taking things too seriously, others have as the Futureheads' reputation slowly grow through intensive touring, word of mouth and the release of two EPs. With the release of The Futureheads, however, the band's popularity lead an insistent local hype machine and a constantly growing buzz in North America. The sudden rise in their profile and critical success may have caught the band slightly off guard, but it hasn't changed the unassuming and grateful attitude they have had since their inception.
"That's not why we started really," Hyde says. "We were just happy to play in front of our friends on weekends and get them all excited. That's what we did for at least a year, just playing in front of our friends in little bars in Sunderland. We're very surprised [about the positive reception]. Our music's not that straight forward. It has straight forward parts to it, but it's not instant. I think if you see the live show you get it straightaway, if you listen to the record you have to listen to it a few times to get it. We're really pleased at how people are receiving us, it's really exciting and a bit of a shock to, but a nice shock."