The Futureheads on tour and independent

Emma Lee Sunderland’s finest purveyors of spiky punk pop, the Futureheads, are back. With a new album recorded with the legendary indie producer Youth in the can they hit the road in January, including a date at the Waterfront in Norwich. EMMA LEE caught up with guitarist Ross Millard for a look back on their eventful year.

Emma Lee

You could be forgiven for thinking that 2007 has been a quiet one for the Futureheads. Aside from a handful of live shows, the Sunderland quartet has spent much of the last 12 months out of the spotlight.

But, as guitarist Ross Millard explains, it's been busy behind the scenes. Just before Christmas last year they parted ways with their record label 679, which had released their first two albums, their self-titled debut and 2006's News and Tributes.

But feeling disillusioned with the way things work when you're signed to a major label, instead of getting themselves another deal they got back in touch with their punk-rock roots, decided to go it alone, and have set up their own independent label, Nul Records.

Ross describes it as an “eventful” year.

“It was an easy decision to make. It took us about five minutes to go from being signed to not being signed,” says Ross.

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“It took us a couple of months to decide what we wanted to do. We've got a good fanbase, so we're going to put the music out ourselves,” he says.

“And it feels pretty liberating,” he says. “To be outside the major label system is a nice position to be in. It would have been easy to be a bit down about how things worked out.”

The band formed in Sunderland in 2000 - specifically in guitarist and singer Barry Hyde's garage. The line-up at that time was completed by Ross on guitar, Jaff on Bass and Peter Brewis on drums, with all of them sharing vocal duties.

In 2001, after building up a fanbase on home turf and further afield, Peter left (he's now in the acclaimed Field Music) and he was replaced by David Hyde.

They reached the magical milestone of being able to quit their day jobs, and their debut album, which included indie disco floorfillers like Decent Days and Nights and their now-legendary cover version of the Kate Bush classic Hounds of Love, was released in 2004, followed by News and Tributes in 2006.

Their third album, title tbc, is slated for release in the early summer.

This time round they teamed up with the legendary indie producer Youth, who has worked with the likes of Primal Scream and the Verve, and recorded it at his studio in sunny Spain.

A taster of the sessions, the energetic Broke Up the Time, has already appeared on the internet - and Ross says that Youth (who they describe looking like a “psychedelic time traveller”) introduced them to a new way of working.

“I think when Youth came on board it sealed the deal,” Ross says. “He's been so influential on how the record sounds in terms of creativity. It did us the world of good. I think we had got very cynical considering we're in our mid-20s. We felt like elder statesmen of the British music scene, I was starting to feel like Keith Richards.

“I think that we put a lot more energy into it. The album has fire in its belly. I think it's going to be the best album to play live,” he says.

And they'll be road-testing the new material soon when they embark on a tour of student venues, including the Waterfront in Norwich. Although it's a college tour, the shows are open to the public.

“I'm really looking forward to the tour,” Ross says. “We've only done a handful of shows this year. And we're going to some favourite venues and some we haven't played at before. Like the Waterfront. We've played at UEA three or four times, but for some reason we've never played the Waterfront. And it's a venue with a great reputation.”

Finally, with 2008 nearly with us, does Ross have any new year's resolutions?

“I haven't - I'm already vegetarian, I don't smoke, I don't drink. Maybe my new year's resolution should be to get some vices,” he says.

The Futureheads play the Waterfront, Norwich, on January 28. For more information and bookings: 01603 508050 and