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Futureheads Warm the U.S.

U.K. rockers bring their sunny punk to the States

November 4, 2004 12:00 AM ET
When the Futureheads opened for Franz Ferdinand in September in New York, at least one famous fan was upset to have arrived late to the show. "David Bowie told us, 'I was really disappointed to miss the Futureheads,'" says guitarist Barry Hyde, perfectly imitating the rocker's London accent. It's not surprising: The Sunderland, England, quartet has created quite a buzz with its debut -- fifteen songs (in thirty-six minutes) that set highly beautiful harmonies over tightly wound punk grooves.

Playing to audiences "ten times beyond our expectations," says Hyde, 23, the four unlikely lads from a dreary working-class town were able to enjoy a whirlwind tour of the States. "It was a romantic experience, but the sunshine was unbearable at times. In San Diego, people stared at us. Everyone there is brown and healthy, and we were white as a sheet."

The Futureheads met during the late Nineties at a Sunderland boys club where Hyde taught guitar. In order to distance itself from the Brit-pop crowd, the group drew up a set of rules that forbade guitar solos, effects pedals and talking between songs. But perhaps the Futureheads' most crucial decision was to sing in their thick Geordie accents. "If you write songs, you should represent them in your own voice," Hyde says. "In the mid-Nineties, British bands were trying to sound American."

The loose atmosphere of the Futureheads' shows conceals their dedication to rejuvenating punk rock with an uncommon compositional sense. All four members sing, and though they effuse the same New Wave swagger as other currently hot bands, the Futureheads are equally influenced by the Beach Boys and contemporary composers such as Philip Glass. "We all sing to create as much noise as possible," says Hyde. "We try to write sarcastic songs that, melodically, are joyous. It's like insulting someone but smiling at the same time."

Futureheads tour dates:

11/4: Cambridge, MA, T.T. the Bear's
11/5: Philadelphia, Beyond
11/6: Hoboken, NJ, Maxwell's
11/8: Atlanta, The Earl
11/10: Chicago, Empty Bottle
11/11: Minneapolis, Ascot Room at Quest Club
11/13: Denver, Larimer Lounge
11/16: Seattle, Crocodile Cafe
11/17: Portland, OR, Douglas Fir Lounge
11/19: San Francisco, 330 Ritch Street
11/20: West Hollywood, CA, The Troubadour

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