So here it is, the second album from The Futureheads. 6 years since forming, 12 record releases, 5 UK tours, 4 US tours, 3 top 20 singles and 250,000 debut albums sold worldwide, where did it all begin?
After meeting at the Sunderland City Detatched Youth Project, a lottery funded music scheme for getting kids off the street, Barry, Ross, Jaff and Pete (the then drummer) played their first gig at Ashbrooke Cricket Club in 2000. The departure of Pete (Brewis, now a member of Field Music) led to the conscription of Barrys younger brother Dave. He boldly tried his hand at drumming and now, 6 years on, can cite Dave Grohl as one of his admirers. It doesnt get much better than that.
Initially signed to indie label Fantastic Plastic, The Futureheads were quickly picked up by 679 Recordings in 2003. They put out a download only version of A to B in the autumn of that year as anticipation for their debut album grew. Co-produced by The Gang Of Fours Andy Gill and the then new boy on the scene, Paul Epworth, The Futureheads was finally released in July 2004.
The next 12 months proved all-important in the lives of The Futuremen, they began receiving the attention they had worked hard for and unequivocally deserved. Their appeal grew both is the UK and the US, after supporting Franz Ferdinand in the States (Sept 04) they went on to tour America twice in early 05 before playing the main stage at last years Coachella festival.
The support was kicking off back home too; they were booked to play the NME Awards Tour 2004, along with Bloc Party, The Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers – which proved to be a huge success. They released Hounds Of Love in February that year which resulted in their first top 10 hit (and went on to be named NMEs Track of the Year 2005). The re-release of their LP turned The Futureheads into a Gold selling debut. It entered the UK album chart at number 11. TV, radio and press support mounted up putting this young Sunderland four piece at the pinnacle of the UK music scene. Not somewhere that theyd necessarily ever wanted to be but they enjoyed it all the same
Playing live is where these boys thrive and this slowly but surely rise to fame enabled them to play bigger and better shows each year. 2005 witnessed them selling out 2 nights at Londons Astoria, playing outstanding Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds sets (amongst other European festivals), supporting Oasis on their arena tour, band idols The Pixies invited them to support them at the 9,000 capacity venue, Alexandra Palace (plus other UK dates), and to round off what can only be described as a triumphant year, The Futureheads supported The Foo Fighters at Earls Court in December 2005. What better place to air some new material?
The News is all of these songs. The Tributes are to people, places, events and memories. Every song anyone writes is a tribute to someone or something explains Barry, and all of these songs are being heard for the first time so are news. The band released a brand new EP, Area in November 2005 but decided not to include it on this album, as they wanted the whole thing to be fresh and exciting for the listener. Area was extremely well received and considered as a move forward for The Futureheads but having been playing the song live for much of 2005, the band saw Area as a link to their past, News And Tributes is their future.
The first single to be taken from News And Tributes is Skip To The End, as with much of the LP, its brash, bold, strong and extremely catchy. Their use of four part harmonies has been expanded upon throughout the album, with lead vocals once again shared by Barry and Ross. The pace has slowed and the songwriting matured but the unique sounds and edgy-ness displayed on their debut are still paramount. Our first album was made by giddy teenage boys but this one has been made by big strong men." (Barry Hyde)
You will not be disappointed with what you find on News And Tributes. Its the album you might have expected The Futureheads to of taken another year to produce. Instead they enlisted the renowned production skills of Ben Hillier (Depeche Mode, The Doves, Blur etc) and locked themselves away in a remote farm style studio in Scarborough at the end of last year. The decision to do so proved fruitful as they offloaded all the new songs theyd been carrying around with them in their heads for the last year of touring, resulting in News And Tributes being laid down in only 6 weeks.
Its a bold step forward in the lives of The Futuremen. Theyre eager, willing and ready to take on 2006. Dismiss them at your peril.