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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The Futureheads – Interview

A chat with Sunderland's finest export, but don't dare call them a 'post-punk revival band'

Written by Ian Steadman

Style: “lu flux hats 2″

Illustration by Jenny Robins

Lu Flux is one of the most interesting new British ethical fashion labels and one of the highlights in this year’s Estethica exhibition at London Fashion Week. Katia Bololia meets her in her studio at the industrial end of East London to talk about her latest collection, page ‘Dame and Knight’, ethical fashion and taking life less seriously.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the fashion world so far.
I graduated from the Edinburgh School of Art at 2006 and did my first collection for Glasgow Fashion Week, then went on to work with German fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm in Paris. I made the decision to move to London and at first I was doing commissions for other people, I hadn’t fully committed myself to fashion at the time until a friend of mine opened a gallery at Brick Lane and I put myself down for a show, so that put me into gear to make a collection for October 2008. That body of work I created eventually led me to the Vauxhaul Fashion Scout Show, which kicked off my career.

From then it escalated, leading to London Fashion Week’s Estethica Exhibition. Tell us about that experience.
It was really good, I hadn’t been to Estethica before and at first I didn’t know what to expect. There were all of the designers I’ve met before and it was nice because it felt like we were this strange ethical family, I’ve also met lots of people that I’ve heard about and wanted to meet personally. It was really lovely to be part of it and it was very exciting for me to be part of the LFW, I’ve never been in such a place before where I could meet people from all around the world.

What are the things that interest you in general?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time for myself but when I don’t do fashion I am very interested in art, galleries and culture mainly; music, films and everything. I like getting away to the countryside as well, escaping from it all.

When it comes to your label, do you have a fashion manifesto and if so what is it?
I read Vivienne’s Westwood manifesto recently and I suppose mine is very similar to hers, in the idea of buying something for longevity. I am also against disposable fashion. I think we should buy something because we love it and because it reflects our personality. I feel that all of my things transcend this message, to be loved for a long time.

There is a very interesting story when it comes to your fabrics, can you tell us where you source your fabrics from?
I used to source everything from charity and vintage shops, car boot sales and markets myself. Although I loved it, it is quite a difficult process as it takes up a lot of time and effort. I can’t commit myself to doing that anymore so I started working with a recycling company that is actually around the corner from my studio. These are fabrics coming from clothing banks from all around London, I may get fabric pieces, sheets or even clothes that I will take apart. The amount of waste that gets thrown every day is phenomenal and I am happy that I can make new, exciting pieces of it.

During that process, do you have difficulties sometimes finding the right thing for you? Or the opposite – finding a “small treasure” ?
Definitely, one piece of fabric can spark off a completely different design angle. I try not to have a specific design idea in my head, I prefer to see what I can get first and develop my designs from that; it helps the design process. If I can’t find something that I have in my mind, something else will come along and take its place. I also work with organic fabrics – the variety that’s out there is getting so much bigger these days and more accessible.

Speaking of organic, and its growth nowadays, I sometimes wonder if when companies take the eco route (whether it be fashion or food or whatever) they do so just because it has become fashionable. Although it all contributes to the greater good, do you feel that in some way ethical fashion has become commercial?
Green is definitely a buzz-word at the moment and everybody, be it in the fashion industry or not, tries to become as ethical as possible. I am not necessarily coming from that angle, even though I obviously care a lot about what I do and how it affects the environment, there is just too much waste and that affects everyone. But for me it’s more about the final garment than the ethical process; the fact that these pieces are unique, they’re more like art pieces.

In your collections we see an almost fairy-tale world. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I have a personal collection of vintage photographs that I like to I look at. I love this time when photography was just starting and you get these moments frozen in time. Right now everyone uses photography all the time, capturing every moment, but back then you only see a fraction of their life and you have to imagine for yourself what their world might have been like. Obviously, I am also influenced by fairy-tales and their magical feeling; the escape from reality. Fashion is so intense, serious and glamorous and I want to take another spin on it, to keep it quite child-like and fun.

By seeing your collections past and present, one gets into a playful mood. Do you think that fashion is a protest these days, like it used to be in the past?
I think everyone’s got their point that they’re trying to make. My point is that you can have fun while making your point, it doesn’t all have to be serious. I want people to realize that they can have fun in whatever they’re doing and that humour can be injected in everything. Everything is so serious nowadays, fast-forward and busy.

For your last collection you’ve collaborated with London-based artist Alex Chinneck and traditional cordwainers Green Shoes. Tell us a little about that collaboration.
It was easy collaborating with Alex – he’s not only a wonderful sculptor but also my boyfriend! He had this paper cut-out of an explosion called Ka-boom and we both came up with the idea of translating it into a piece of clothing. It is a wonderful pictorial piece and it was also a real test for my patch-working abilities – it was really technical and much more complicated than I thought it would be, so it was really rewarding when it was finished. Then with Green Shoes, it all started when I bought a pair for Alex’s birthday and I decided to customise them for him, so it all unfolded with what I did and we decided to have them in the collection and a bag as well. They are all made of vegetarian leather and tanned with vegetable dye, so they’re as ethical as a shoe can be. Also, the cut-outs I used are off-cuts from the leftovers from Green Shoes to reduce waste once again.


Illustration by Jenny Robins

Finally, an urban fashion legend says that Tom Ford offered Stella McCartney the role of design director at Gucci. When McCartney said no fur or leather, and Ford couldn’t oblige, she turned down the role. What would you do in a similar dilemma, in a fantastic scenario where you are offered a dream job but you have to compromise your principles in ethical fashion?
Actually, I’m doing my dream job already! I don’t want to buy fabric off the roll, I have to think within these parameters and I like the barriers that I have put to myself, otherwise it is not ethical. This way I push myself to do something a little bit extra, it’s not as easy because all these fabrics are not given to me on a plate. When you are more resourceful and you push yourself creatively then the final result is much more rewarding. I don’t want to preach to people, but I want to plant an idea. If people like it they might be inspired and follow my example. Fingers crossed!


Lu Flux photographed by Holly Falconer


Illustration by Jenny Robins

Lu Flux is one of the most interesting new British ethical fashion labels and one of the highlights in this year’s Estethica exhibition at London Fashion Week. Katia Bololia meets her in her studio at the industrial end of East London to talk about her latest collection, viagra ‘Dame and Knight’, ed ethical fashion and taking life less seriously.

Firstly, find tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the fashion world so far.
I graduated from the Edinburgh School of Art at 2006 and did my first collection for Glasgow Fashion Week, then went on to work with German fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm in Paris. I made the decision to move to London and at first I was doing commissions for other people, I hadn’t fully committed myself to fashion at the time until a friend of mine opened a gallery at Brick Lane and I put myself down for a show, so that put me into gear to make a collection for October 2008. That body of work I created eventually led me to the Vauxhaul Fashion Scout Show, which kicked off my career.

From then it escalated, leading to London Fashion Week’s Estethica Exhibition. Tell us about that experience.
It was really good, I hadn’t been to Estethica before and at first I didn’t know what to expect. There were all of the designers I’ve met before and it was nice because it felt like we were this strange ethical family, I’ve also met lots of people that I’ve heard about and wanted to meet personally. It was really lovely to be part of it and it was very exciting for me to be part of the LFW, I’ve never been in such a place before where I could meet people from all around the world.

What are the things that interest you in general?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time for myself but when I don’t do fashion I am very interested in art, galleries and culture mainly; music, films and everything. I like getting away to the countryside as well, escaping from it all.

When it comes to your label, do you have a fashion manifesto and if so what is it?
I read Vivienne’s Westwood manifesto recently and I suppose mine is very similar to hers, in the idea of buying something for longevity. I am also against disposable fashion. I think we should buy something because we love it and because it reflects our personality. I feel that all of my things transcend this message, to be loved for a long time.

There is a very interesting story when it comes to your fabrics, can you tell us where you source your fabrics from?
I used to source everything from charity and vintage shops, car boot sales and markets myself. Although I loved it, it is quite a difficult process as it takes up a lot of time and effort. I can’t commit myself to doing that anymore so I started working with a recycling company that is actually around the corner from my studio. These are fabrics coming from clothing banks from all around London, I may get fabric pieces, sheets or even clothes that I will take apart. The amount of waste that gets thrown every day is phenomenal and I am happy that I can make new, exciting pieces of it.

During that process, do you have difficulties sometimes finding the right thing for you? Or the opposite – finding a “small treasure” ?
Definitely, one piece of fabric can spark off a completely different design angle. I try not to have a specific design idea in my head, I prefer to see what I can get first and develop my designs from that; it helps the design process. If I can’t find something that I have in my mind, something else will come along and take its place. I also work with organic fabrics – the variety that’s out there is getting so much bigger these days and more accessible.

Speaking of organic, and its growth nowadays, I sometimes wonder if when companies take the eco route (whether it be fashion or food or whatever) they do so just because it has become fashionable. Although it all contributes to the greater good, do you feel that in some way ethical fashion has become commercial?
Green is definitely a buzz-word at the moment and everybody, be it in the fashion industry or not, tries to become as ethical as possible. I am not necessarily coming from that angle, even though I obviously care a lot about what I do and how it affects the environment, there is just too much waste and that affects everyone. But for me it’s more about the final garment than the ethical process; the fact that these pieces are unique, they’re more like art pieces.

In your collections we see an almost fairy-tale world. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I have a personal collection of vintage photographs that I like to I look at. I love this time when photography was just starting and you get these moments frozen in time. Right now everyone uses photography all the time, capturing every moment, but back then you only see a fraction of their life and you have to imagine for yourself what their world might have been like. Obviously, I am also influenced by fairy-tales and their magical feeling; the escape from reality. Fashion is so intense, serious and glamorous and I want to take another spin on it, to keep it quite child-like and fun.

By seeing your collections past and present, one gets into a playful mood. Do you think that fashion is a protest these days, like it used to be in the past?
I think everyone’s got their point that they’re trying to make. My point is that you can have fun while making your point, it doesn’t all have to be serious. I want people to realize that they can have fun in whatever they’re doing and that humour can be injected in everything. Everything is so serious nowadays, fast-forward and busy.

For your last collection you’ve collaborated with London-based artist Alex Chinneck and traditional cordwainers Green Shoes. Tell us a little about that collaboration.
It was easy collaborating with Alex – he’s not only a wonderful sculptor but also my boyfriend! He had this paper cut-out of an explosion called Ka-boom and we both came up with the idea of translating it into a piece of clothing. It is a wonderful pictorial piece and it was also a real test for my patch-working abilities – it was really technical and much more complicated than I thought it would be, so it was really rewarding when it was finished. Then with Green Shoes, it all started when I bought a pair for Alex’s birthday and I decided to customise them for him, so it all unfolded with what I did and we decided to have them in the collection and a bag as well. They are all made of vegetarian leather and tanned with vegetable dye, so they’re as ethical as a shoe can be. Also, the cut-outs I used are off-cuts from the leftovers from Green Shoes to reduce waste once again.


Illustration by Jenny Robins

Finally, an urban fashion legend says that Tom Ford offered Stella McCartney the role of design director at Gucci. When McCartney said no fur or leather, and Ford couldn’t oblige, she turned down the role. What would you do in a similar dilemma, in a fantastic scenario where you are offered a dream job but you have to compromise your principles in ethical fashion?
Actually, I’m doing my dream job already! I don’t want to buy fabric off the roll, I have to think within these parameters and I like the barriers that I have put to myself, otherwise it is not ethical. This way I push myself to do something a little bit extra, it’s not as easy because all these fabrics are not given to me on a plate. When you are more resourceful and you push yourself creatively then the final result is much more rewarding. I don’t want to preach to people, but I want to plant an idea. If people like it they might be inspired and follow my example. Fingers crossed!


Lu Flux photographed by Holly Falconer


Illustration by Jenny Robins

Lu Flux is one of the most interesting new British ethical fashion labels and one of the highlights in this year’s Estethica exhibition at London Fashion Week. Katia Bololia meets her in her studio at the industrial end of East London to talk about her latest collection, ed ‘Dame and Knight’, sildenafil ethical fashion and taking life less seriously.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the fashion world so far.
I graduated from the Edinburgh School of Art at 2006 and did my first collection for Glasgow Fashion Week, then went on to work with German fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm in Paris. I made the decision to move to London and at first I was doing commissions for other people, I hadn’t fully committed myself to fashion at the time until a friend of mine opened a gallery at Brick Lane and I put myself down for a show, so that put me into gear to make a collection for October 2008. That body of work I created eventually led me to the Vauxhaul Fashion Scout Show, which kicked off my career.

From then it escalated, leading to London Fashion Week’s Estethica Exhibition. Tell us about that experience.
It was really good, I hadn’t been to Estethica before and at first I didn’t know what to expect. There were all of the designers I’ve met before and it was nice because it felt like we were this strange ethical family, I’ve also met lots of people that I’ve heard about and wanted to meet personally. It was really lovely to be part of it and it was very exciting for me to be part of the LFW, I’ve never been in such a place before where I could meet people from all around the world.

What are the things that interest you in general?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time for myself but when I don’t do fashion I am very interested in art, galleries and culture mainly; music, films and everything. I like getting away to the countryside as well, escaping from it all.

When it comes to your label, do you have a fashion manifesto and if so what is it?
I read Vivienne’s Westwood manifesto recently and I suppose mine is very similar to hers, in the idea of buying something for longevity. I am also against disposable fashion. I think we should buy something because we love it and because it reflects our personality. I feel that all of my things transcend this message, to be loved for a long time.

There is a very interesting story when it comes to your fabrics, can you tell us where you source your fabrics from?
I used to source everything from charity and vintage shops, car boot sales and markets myself. Although I loved it, it is quite a difficult process as it takes up a lot of time and effort. I can’t commit myself to doing that anymore so I started working with a recycling company that is actually around the corner from my studio. These are fabrics coming from clothing banks from all around London, I may get fabric pieces, sheets or even clothes that I will take apart. The amount of waste that gets thrown every day is phenomenal and I am happy that I can make new, exciting pieces of it.

During that process, do you have difficulties sometimes finding the right thing for you? Or the opposite – finding a “small treasure” ?
Definitely, one piece of fabric can spark off a completely different design angle. I try not to have a specific design idea in my head, I prefer to see what I can get first and develop my designs from that; it helps the design process. If I can’t find something that I have in my mind, something else will come along and take its place. I also work with organic fabrics – the variety that’s out there is getting so much bigger these days and more accessible.

Speaking of organic, and its growth nowadays, I sometimes wonder if when companies take the eco route (whether it be fashion or food or whatever) they do so just because it has become fashionable. Although it all contributes to the greater good, do you feel that in some way ethical fashion has become commercial?
Green is definitely a buzz-word at the moment and everybody, be it in the fashion industry or not, tries to become as ethical as possible. I am not necessarily coming from that angle, even though I obviously care a lot about what I do and how it affects the environment, there is just too much waste and that affects everyone. But for me it’s more about the final garment than the ethical process; the fact that these pieces are unique, they’re more like art pieces.

In your collections we see an almost fairy-tale world. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I have a personal collection of vintage photographs that I like to I look at. I love this time when photography was just starting and you get these moments frozen in time. Right now everyone uses photography all the time, capturing every moment, but back then you only see a fraction of their life and you have to imagine for yourself what their world might have been like. Obviously, I am also influenced by fairy-tales and their magical feeling; the escape from reality. Fashion is so intense, serious and glamorous and I want to take another spin on it, to keep it quite child-like and fun.

By seeing your collections past and present, one gets into a playful mood. Do you think that fashion is a protest these days, like it used to be in the past?
I think everyone’s got their point that they’re trying to make. My point is that you can have fun while making your point, it doesn’t all have to be serious. I want people to realize that they can have fun in whatever they’re doing and that humour can be injected in everything. Everything is so serious nowadays, fast-forward and busy.

For your last collection you’ve collaborated with London-based artist Alex Chinneck and traditional cordwainers Green Shoes. Tell us a little about that collaboration.
It was easy collaborating with Alex – he’s not only a wonderful sculptor but also my boyfriend! He had this paper cut-out of an explosion called Ka-boom and we both came up with the idea of translating it into a piece of clothing. It is a wonderful pictorial piece and it was also a real test for my patch-working abilities – it was really technical and much more complicated than I thought it would be, so it was really rewarding when it was finished. Then with Green Shoes, it all started when I bought a pair for Alex’s birthday and I decided to customise them for him, so it all unfolded with what I did and we decided to have them in the collection and a bag as well. They are all made of vegetarian leather and tanned with vegetable dye, so they’re as ethical as a shoe can be. Also, the cut-outs I used are off-cuts from the leftovers from Green Shoes to reduce waste once again.


Illustration by Jenny Robins

Finally, an urban fashion legend says that Tom Ford offered Stella McCartney the role of design director at Gucci. When McCartney said no fur or leather, and Ford couldn’t oblige, she turned down the role. What would you do in a similar dilemma, in a fantastic scenario where you are offered a dream job but you have to compromise your principles in ethical fashion?
Actually, I’m doing my dream job already! I don’t want to buy fabric off the roll, I have to think within these parameters and I like the barriers that I have put to myself, otherwise it is not ethical. This way I push myself to do something a little bit extra, it’s not as easy because all these fabrics are not given to me on a plate. When you are more resourceful and you push yourself creatively then the final result is much more rewarding. I don’t want to preach to people, but I want to plant an idea. If people like it they might be inspired and follow my example. Fingers crossed!


Lu Flux photographed by Holly Falconer

On the eve of the release of their fourth album, no rx The Chaos, I sat down with lead singer Barry and guitarist Ross from the Futureheads to talk about their creative process, how it really felt to get dropped from their label, and their political leanings.

What were you thinking, recording this album? What was it you were trying to do?

Barry: It was very much a song at a time, and giving our full attention to each song without really thinking too much about the album as a whole until we’d given each of the songs enough time to know that they worked.

How long did you spend recording them all?

Barry: It was quite a fractured process, really, because we did it in three different sessions. The first session was in Sunderland with a mate of ours, Dave Brewis from Field Music, the second was with Dave Glover who produced the entirety of our second album – that’s This Is Not The World – and then we did a final session that we produced ourselves up in Newcastle in a tiny little studio called First Avenue. It was very much three different environments, three different atmospheres. It’s quite a well-rounded album I think.

It still sounds very cohesive, despite the different sessions.

Barry: We weren’t that worried about it not working as a record because we’d put so much effort into the songs that it could only add to the quality of the album, but when it came to actually mixing the album together we kind of realised that this is actually a preferable way to record. If you’ve got your guitar amp in the same room on every song, and it’s the same amp in every song, then that’s the level – guitars are guitars, they’re not going to sound that much different, but moving around gave it an extra level of personality and character.
Ross: And I think it truly only became the album, The Chaos, about 2/3 of the way through, when you start thinking about the artwork and the order of the tracklisting, what songs are going to make, what songs best sum up where we’re at. In the early stages you’re just going through it one song at a time, and that process really influences the rest of the songs that come after it, you know? When you’ve worked up four or five songs and recorded them, if you do it over a long period of time you’re going to end up influenced by that batch of songs, because even though we didn’t it all at the same studio or whatever, our head space was the same all the way through.

The title then – I noticed it’s a fast album. It goes quick, it’s not that it’s short but…

Barry: It’s pacy.

Yeah, it’s pacy, there’s so much happening and then it’s over. Is that where the name comes from, in a way? The Chaos?

Barry: Well, the song, ‘The Chaos’, is a song that does kind of represent the overall cohesion of the album. It captured so much for us, I think, the nature in which it was recorded, the times that we’re living in, the actual state of our culture is pure chaos, it’s the natural state of the universe, pure chaos. I was watching this amazing documentary on the BBC that was called The Secret Life of Chaos which was about chaos theory, and we’re trying to write songs about how we’re all fully capable of dealing with this chaos because we’ve all got to this point just fine. So no matter what you think might happen in the world, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, or whatever, we’re here to deal with it, to deal with the experience. Not to shut it off, but to take it as it comes, to be a part of it. The main thing that the album is for is individuality and building confidence in yourself. I don’t want to sound like some self-help guy but, you know, music has this amazing ability to uplift people, without philosophy or whatever, and it’s all about the experience just coming through the airwaves into your brain and stimulates you. That’s what we’ve always done to ourselves, that’s what we’re all about as a band.
Ross: That element has always been really important with the Futureheads, and probably none more so than on this record, is to engage with people, on record, especially live, we want to engage with the crowd and each other. On this record the message is perhaps more direct than it’s ever been, and it’s about getting people to engage, to spark some kind of debate, some kind of positivity and not have such a passive experience, not to just settle for the dull things.

To what extent does that all come into play with the album cover? Where does that come from?

Barry: Well, that’s basically the chaos symbol, which was invented by a sci-fi writer in the 1950s. It’s a circle with eight arrows coming out of it. A very interesting symbol, because the arrows draw you in to that central point but the arrows create a dynamic to spit you out, and we’ve basically bastardised that symbol and made it into our own.
Ross: It sort of evokes the Nul Records logo too.
Barry: Aye, and with the artwork we all kind of chipped in little ideas.
Ross: Aye, it was great, we all put down our little designs and blueprints, like a school project. Interactive as it goes, like, because a lot of the time a lot of bands will have the management get a graphic designer in, they’ll choose from a range of designs and that’s it, that’s the cover, end of story. But I think that the way that we’re doing everything, to carry on, especially considering the problems we’ve had in the past and all, you really have to find a love for everything. It’s not just like writing a song and performing it, that’s it in its pure form but there’s a lot more involved. I think we get a thrill out of being closely involved with that stuff, and that we’re doing it on our own label entitles us to that now.

How is it running your own label? Has it been liberating?

Barry: Absolutely. Righteous. Righteous liberation.
Ross: That’s the thing, at the start of every new album it’s a very standard thing for a band to do is to get new press shots done or whatever, and in the past when we were with a major label there would always be this one guy who’d come along with these big books of portfolios…
Barry: Oh god.
Ross: …bearing in mind that all of us are very interested in the creative world, and we all are aware of photographers and artists in our own right, and he’d bring these things along and say, “how about such and such,” and it would be such a corporate process.

Very patronising?

Ross: Aye, it is very patronising. You’re not really part of the decision-making process, you’re only there as a gesture almost, having this sit-down. So this time, in keeping with the record being made in the north-east, close to home, we got a good friend of ours, Ian West, to do the photographs. We’ve tried to keep it as close to us as we can, really, and that level of control and those sorts of decisions are, relatively speaking, minutiae, but on the big picture are really massive. For a band to be able to exert that kind of authority is really rare, and I think that’s just one of the things that we enjoy doing, the fact that it’s a lot more free. How quickly we can go from having a decision or an idea to getting it done, there was just so much beaureaucracy at the major label.

Who were you with?

Barry: Warners, technically it was a subsidiary called 679 Recordings, but really, still a major. Nice people, don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising the individuals, it’s just not smart enough for us, it’s a bit stupid.

I was reading that you guys were having some troubles back after you got dropped, that you were considering breaking up…

Barry: I don’t think that’s true, really.

I’m just going off Wikipedia here…

Barry: Wikipedia! I’m going to re-write that, because we’re not a ‘revival band’, fucking ‘revival band’! That’s bollocks, as if we’ve been a covers band for a decade. Piss off!
Ross: Oh man, now he’s raging.
Barry: I’m going to re-write the full Wikipedia for everybody.
Ross: Gonna have to be quick there, on the old computer like. It can be done.
Barry: This is the truth, right – the day that we got dropped, our manager called me and said, “I’ve got some good news – you’ve been dropped.” Yes! Cries of ecstasy. The best thing that could have happened. They were perfectly legally entitled to keep us on their shelf and say, “you get back to the studio,” and get songwriters in… There would’ve been blood, it would’ve been dangerous, to stay on Warners.
Ross: And another great thing about it was that they didn’t take another 18 months, two years, whatever – the second album had come out in May and by October, November they’d dropped us. And in a way it’s good on them to not mess us about.
Barry: They let us free, they let us out of the cage. They liberated us.
Ross: It happens to a lot of bands, I think, but for some reason we decided to talk about it a lot more. Like, for example, I was listening to Zane Lowe, he was interviewing a big lad from Outkast, and he’d just been dropped, signed again with Def Jam. They were talking about it but the way that it was dealt with, there weren’t many negative connotations. I think that maybe, the way that people now perceive that relationship is very different to when it happened to us, or the fact that we were so open about it almost attracted some kind of sympathy or drop in status.

Yeah, well what I’ve read about it almost seemed to suggest that you guys were really not happy about it, that you wouldn’t come back from it.

Barry: No, we never gave off the impression, intentionally… I think it’s fair enough to assume that if someone is rejected in that way that they’ll be, in some way, heartbroken, and we were of course all disillusioned with the music business but never with ourselves, never with our band. And now we have our own music industry, our own music business, that only we experience. It’s called Nul Records, and us and our managers are in complete control of that world. We control where we go in the world, what we spend on videos, and budgets and everything else, it’s empowering. We made the video for ‘Heartbeat Song’…

What’s that like?

Barry: Check it out, it’s funny, it’s like three different game shows in one. It’s all based on 70s game shows, it’s a really smart video.
Ross: There’s a standup, Ray Green, who’s the host and he’s very funny. He takes the focus off the video from the band, we’re kind of contestants.

So with your own record label, have you got yourself your own studio? It sounds like you’ve almost got your own kind of factory set up where you can work on your own terms.

Barry: We haven’t got our own studio, no.
Ross: But back in the north-east we’ve got 8music which is a creative space that we kind of share with Field Music, where we did record some of the album there.
Barry: Yeah, which was kind of revelation for us. We set up the 8music collective about seven or eight years ago now, and we contributed rent to a community building, and our fantasy was always to set up a studio there and release records from there, in a collective form, making ridiculous amounts of music. And then the Futureheads took off and we kind of disappeared from Sunderland for over year, really, just touring and stuff. Meanwhile, the brothers from Field Music kind of did actually set it up as a studio for them and when we came back they’d already started making music there, and it was very fortuitous for us to ask if they’d like to do a session together and they’d say absolutely, of course.
Ross: In a way, we probably could’ve made the entire album in that room, in that environment, if Dave hadn’t got so busy trying to record the latest Field Music album [called Field Music (Measure)].
Barry: Which is a double!
Ross: Yeah, imagine trying to fit in between sessions for a double album. And we’ve almost taken that space for granted but I think it’s really quite a special thing, that we can get the records out there from relatively small premises.

It sounds very punk, very DIY.

Barry: Absolutely.
Ross: It feels like we’re in charge of our destiny to a massive extent, way more than most bands in many ways because we haven’t got those corporate pressures or anyone interfering with the music or the creative decision making. It’s an intimate thing but it seems to be working for us.

So you’ve got this system worked out where you seem to be very comfortable, but I have to ask – how much chaos is there in that system?

Barry: Hah, just right. Balanced chaos. That’s the thing with chaos because there’s chaos in chaos. It’s just chaos how we perceive it, because there’s something else far more powerful controlling it and we experience, as an observer, as a crazy random world.

A last thing now, because everyone’s going on about it – did you watch the first TV debate?

Barry: No, we were… what were we doing last night?
Ross: We played a gig at King’s College. We tried to keep up with it online but, by all accounts, Nick Clegg came out of it well.

Are you guys politically engaged at all?

Barry: I think we all are, in our own little ways. We’ll all be voting this year, it’s turning into a very interesting time, but I read too many conspiracy theories… the Illuminati and Freemasons…

Shape-shifting lizards?

Barry: Heh, I don’t subscribe to that particular fucking crazy theory, but there’s definitely a cabal of highly powerful billionaires who are calling a lot of the shots, and there is that element of slightly sinister shit going on, but it’s a distraction from the real reality of it which is that we’ve got a big election coming up. What’s that saying… “Shat on by Labour, shoved up by Tories”? As Uncle Monty in Withnail & I would say. How about you?

I’ve got no idea yet. The thing is, I live in one of the safest Tory seats in the country, it’s been Conservative for the past two centuries.

Ross: Ah, well, conversely a lot of the districts that we live in, in the north-east, are very much Labour, and what with us wanting people to engage, this album, the timing might not be great with it coming out after the election but it would be that thing of wanting people to mobilise themselves and have their say. It’s like they say, you can only moan if you vote.
Barry: Hah! [puts on RP accent] Mind you, you can only moan if you vote. I voted and I can moan as much as I like!

Heh, well, don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos. So the album’s coming out on the 26th of April, and the next single is going to be…

Barry: A mystery. Not sure yet.

And touring plans?

Barry: Yeah, got a big tour coming up to promote the album starting on the day the album is released, up in Norwich. Then we have a little break and we’re off to America, which will be good as we haven’t done a tour there in three or four years. The album comes out over there on the 1st of June, the first day of the tour, so it’s pretty well organised. And we’re doing a few festivals, Leeds and Reading main stage which will be amazing, a few years since we’ve done that. Wicker Man Festival, Kendal Calling, there’s a lot of really good smaller indie rock festivals establishing themselves, you know, 5000 max kind of things.

Like Truck Festival?

Barry: That’s really good, it’s got a lovely atmosphere, like a tiny Glastonbury. Festivals are great things, you know, they’ve been happening a very long time and they’re usually celebrating something, like the summer solstice. Glastonbury’s always been on the solstice, so there’s this element of getting together as a community and passing the time in a very positive and proactive way. And that kind of joy that people are experiencing is just great, and you’re essentially like a hoover, you know [makes sucking noise], trying to suck all the joy up and fire it back at them, and that’s the beauty of festival. I love them.

Are they your favourite gigs, then?

Barry: Oh, I love them. Absolutely love them. So exciting. No preparation. You’re in front of your largest crowds with your smallest amount of equipment, shortest time to prepare. You’ve got to get them, otherwise they’ll just float away, or else they’ll just go watch someone DJ, or go on the rides, you’ve got to hold them, it’s a really interesting experience.

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