The Futureheads bass player on life post-major label...
Sig Doherty recently caught up with Jaff, the bass wielding heartbeat of English post punkster’s the Futureheads midway through their British tour. He had popped back home between sell out shows in Glasgow and Birmingham to catch up with his fiancé and dog, and lucky I catch him, as he has just finished washing up, and is about to hit the town for some Christmas shopping. Rock and roll ladies and gentlemen.
A reality check being home?
For sure, touring around Britain as opposed to the States, Asia or Australia, when you get the chance to pop home you grab, keeps you grounded, and domesticated!
Hearty congrats on your 3rd long play ‘This is not the world’, a rip roaring album it must be said.
Well thanks very much, we’re all very proud of it.
It was released independently...
Yeah, the major dropped us last year when the 2nd album, ‘News and Tributes’ didn’t do as well as they’d have liked, we decided not to sign for another major, to take control put this one out ourselves, that’s what we all wanted and pushed ahead together.
I suppose the greater artistic control, comes a greater workload as well...
Oh aye, there is a greater workload for sure but we work with some great people, have good folk around us, like our manager, who looks after the business side of things, the distribution our sound manager, lots of top people.
With this new independence comes a greater trust within the group and those close to the band, everyone with the same goals and pulling in the same direction...
It's so much better, we just things done, the band and manager are the backbone and when we want things done, they get done…no like label conflicts, who are wanting this or that, it's just simpler and a much better way of working really. To be honest, the only real advantage a major label is that they have loads of money to promote, working independently has everything else.
And of course with the advent of web promotion like Myspace, etc.
That’s it exactly, there is so much promotion now that can be done for free which is great for anyone releasing music independent of the majors, and with internet, folk are downloading so much music for free which is part and parcel of the net and you accept. So what you do is try and cultivate a good loyal fan-base that come to the shows, buy a t-shirt, some merchandise and really get into the band or any band really and not just listen and download the latest fashionable album and shelve it a matter of hours later and move onto the next album.
Do you think bands in general, their - for want of a better phrase - ‘business model’ has had to evolve with the onset of the internet? Bands are on the road more to keep their heads above water when in the past, album sales and an occasional tour was the done thing...
Yeah, I suppose, that’s the way our label is focused. It worked well for the previous album ‘News and tributes’ post-release. It can be hard work being on the road, but it’s hardly like working down the pit! And it’s the reason we started the band, to gig you know.
Any plans afoot for a 4th long play? Do you write while on tour, or do you get the tour finished with, then sit down and go for it…? Ideas are always being born while on the road. Our main focus is to get into the studio at the end of January next year. Have Christmas off, put the feet up. But we are gonna take a little easier next year you know. I’m getting married (a hearty congrats), Dave (Futureheads stick man) is having a baby. I suppose we’re getting on a bit (laughs). We just want to relax things, not rush everything. We’ll probably do a couple of gentle tours during the year to get us back into the swing of things, put out a couple of EP’s and hopefully get the new album out at the end of next year
The eponymously named first album was recorded on a farm, through to ‘This is not the world’ which was recorded in the fantastically named ‘space mountain’ studio in the Andalusian mountains…have you a castle or the moon booked for the new album
(laughs)…No no, we are definitely going the other way, recording it in a garage ourselves! Get a few demos out. We are really good pals with a guy from Fuel music, who is gonna work on the demos with us next year which we’re all really excited about.
This year again, you have clocked up a monstrous amount of road and air miles…what hold your sanity together on the road?
Well I think to be honest, when you are not on the road, you have to get as much distance from the music as possible. Because we are on the road a lot, you’d rarely see the other guys when you’re back home, maybe catch up for a cup of coffee. Barry lives in Glasgow with the wife, so he’s there between tours and recording. Plus it’s good to catch up with friends you don’t see for weeks or months when you’re on tour, and of course the missus and my dog! But yeah, outside the tour, you have a clean break from the band and the music
Keeps the friendships fresh...
Absolutely, its good to have your own space and days off ye know. Head off on a stroll around a city you are playing in, and then play games and watch box-sets in the tour-bus with the gang, have a good laugh…and try not to talk about music, ‘cause we end up fighting about it!
Anything and everything to evade meltdown!
For sure. Just get away from the tour bus, visit an art gallery, climb a mountain, anything! And then meet up later with the lads for a pint!
What box-sets are currently on rotation in the tour-bus?
Well, we’re actually watching the World at War which is excellent. We’ve just finished the Soprano’s. We’re looking for a new series to get into.
Well, you have to watched ‘Entourage’? (I explain the concept and whole-heartedly recommend it) Seems kind of apt as one of the best episodes in Entourage features Johnny Drama’s legendary appearance on the Jimmy Kimble Show, and the Futurehead’s also appeared live on the Kimble show….
Oh aye, yeah…that was great.
You guys have a great reputation as a festival band. Any festival over the years that, be it the crowd, or the way the festival promoters have went the extra mile to make your stay that bit better…?
You know, I think the best show we ever done was Glastonbury 2005, and Fuji Rock that year too. 2005 was the year we really burst onto the seen, seeing 25,000 people sing your songs back to you, is well, unbelievable. And it had poured all day at Glastonbury, and the sun came out while we were on stage!
Amen to that….
And Fuji Rock, you have the culture clash, and the language barrier but that all adds to the occasion, but the fans are so fanatical. But there are so many festivals in the UK alone now, and many are so terribly run and very little thought goes into them
I asked my daughter last night if there was any questions she would ask, and she asked if you guys had ever been back to play at your old school?
Laughs…funny you ask that, ‘cause we were just talking about it the other day. We haven’t, no, but it's something I’d love to do.
Is there anything interesting or quirky in the Futurehead’s rider? (to which I point out that I caught a look at Therapy’s rider many moons ago and it had all the usual rock and roll ingredients, an array of hard and even harder liquor etc…plus, and I quote…”a selection of fine cheeses” –ROCK!
Excellent! To be honest, we’re pretty standard. I know the Buzzcocks had a taste for Moet and Chandon Champagne and their rider request was, ‘no Moet no showy, no Chandon, no band on!’ The only special request would be that the lager is good, Czech beers and the like. Myself and Ross are vegetarians, so something to eat minus the meat! And, now that we are independent, we have tried to cut down on the rider contents now to keep the costs down to keep the band going ye know.
So no pink carnations sprinkled on the dressing room floors……
I knew of someone who requested everything to be Vivienne Westwood styled backstage, which sounds very novel, but not for us! You want to tell them to come back to the real world! A couple of bottles of wine, 24 bottles of beer and water and that’ll do!
Jaff, it’s been an absolute pleasure, many thanks for the words, enjoy the rest of the tour and as you slide down the banister of life…..
Was my pleasure mate, all the best.
Jaff was interviewed by Sig Doherty
Futureheads play Cork’s Cyprus Garden’s on the 15th, Limerick’s Dolan’s Warehouse on the 16th and Dublin’s Academy on the 17th December.