Artists and Bands

The Futureheads’ guitarist, Ross Millard, talks Manchester United, inventing privacy, and “The Chaos”

The Futureheads’ newest offering, “The Chaos”, is a truly electric album that doesn’t venture far from the band’s signature sound, but that has a healthy dose of fresh and new takes of what we love most about their music. Some standout tracks include “Struck Dumb,” which features a couple of heavier riffs, but has an overall playful tone, and “I Can Do That,” which has an upbeat feeling that is reminiscent of a Ramones tune. The band’s guitarist, Ross Millard, was kind enough to answer a few questions about The Futureheads’ music making process and their latest album:

Q: What makes your latest album, “The Chaos,” different from the rest? Was the writing / recording process enjoyable?

A: I think this is the first record that we’ve made with “full independence” in mind. I think it’s different because this record has it’s darker, more minor moments. We wanted the album to be a positive, uplifting record, but we wanted to acknowledge our surroundings and our times, so I guess it’s harps of light shafting through the darkness, this time. The process was enjoyable because we gave ourselves more time to make this record and didn’t impose much of a deadline on the finished product. Dave, our drummer, has had a son with his girlfriend and that meant we had to take our foot off the gas to a certain extent, but I think taking more time in the studio has benefitted all of us because the songs start to change and expand the longer you have them kicking around the rehearsal room.

Q: Besides punk, which has an obvious influence on your music, what other sounds and  factors inspire you?

A: Because we’re such a big harmony band, a lot of counterpoint, minimalist classical music influences our arrangements too. People like Steve Reich, Phillip Glass and Arvo Part have made some incredible contributions to polyrhythmic music and arrangements. I think doo-wop also has a role to play in some of the sweeter moments with the band too.

Q: What is your favorite city to play in and why?

A: New York City is a huge favourite of ours because it’s the birthplace of punk-rock and a great show there validates any band. We’ve played in the US many times now, and some of my favourite shows have been in New York. It can feel like a hometown show in many ways, especially if we haven’t played there for a while. The US tour we’ve got coming up is our first in four years and it’s one we’ve been looking forward to since we arrived home from the last one back in ’06.

Q: What’s the best concert you guys (individually or together) have been to? What made it so good?

A: I saw “At The Drive In” from El Paso in Leeds [at The] Cockpit, just after the release of the “Relationship Of Command” album. That record was incendiary and I’ve never been more excited to see a band in my life. The venue holds five hundred people and I remember it being sooooo hot [that] they opened all of the fire escapes for cooler air in the end. That band changed a lot of things for me because they showed me that energy is essential in a performance. It’s not about posturing, it’s not about haircuts, or leather, or denim – it’s about tearing through the songs and the crowd, and burning something indelible into the audience. They were a great band and it was a tragedy when they split.

Q: What other interests do you guys have, besides music?

A: I love football! I’m a season ticket holder for Manchester United and I go with my dad whenever I’m home. Rarely miss a game. We’re all big readers in the band and I’ve had countless good conversations on the road with Barry, who loves esoteric literature. All that stuff blows my mind [but] I’m more of a Norman Mailer man, to be honest. There’s nothing quite like disappearing into a book when you’re on the road: it’s the best way to invent privacy, that’s for sure.

Q:  If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing for a living?

A: When I was at University, I thought I’d end up spending most of my days writing. I spend a lot of my time now scribbling away with this and that. Since the band has become my life, though, I’ve realised that it’s important to have a job that allows you to be outside, apart from the two hours a day that we spend rocking out. There’s nothing that currently stops me from being outdoors and I’d hate to be cooped up inside for most of the week.

For more Futureheads:

The Chaos

The Futureheads