Sunderland indie veterans The Futureheads last week unveiled their sixth studio album Powers having announced a come back earlier in the year.
The band, who shot to fame in 2004 with their explosive self-titled debut album, have just completed a successful summer festival tour and have reaffirmed themselves as one of the UK's most loved guitar bands.
Here, guitarist and vocalist Ross Millard chats about the band's new material, its plans for the future and his involvement in a one-off show coming to Middlesbrough this week curated by fellow North East superstar Paul Smith, of Maxïmo Park.
Q: The Futureheads have a new album. What can your fans expect from it?
The record is out now (as of August 30) and is our first since 2012. For a long time, I didn’t think we’d make another album. We’ve made it slowly, over the last 18 months or so. We’re really happy with it - it’s got lots of the usual Futureheads-style rhythms and stop/start riffs and what have you, but it’s deeper than most of the records we’ve made in the past. And there are some slower songs on there, which is a break from tradition for us a bit.
Q: Shall there be a tour and where shall you be heading?
We’ve had a decent summer of festivals to get back in the saddle with it all. We’re doing a tour in December to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our debut record, where we’ll play that record in full, and then play a bit of a best-of type setlist on top.
Q:What can you tell me about Paul Smith & Friends at Middlesbrough Town Hall?
Well, this is very much a one-off type show. It won’t be done again and I think these moments are good to see if at all possible. It’s not often that all of these North East-based artists are in the same room at the same time, let alone performing together, and with Field Music providing all of the instrumentation, you know it’s going to be good. It’s pretty much a hometown show for Paul, too.
Q: What can you tell me about your friendship with Paul?
I’ve known Paul over 15 years now, since the very beginnings of Maxïmo Park, more or less. We’ve crossed paths many times, on tours, at festivals, at other gigs around the North-East. Paul recently played Summer Streets, the festival I organise in Sunderland, and asked me about being part of the line up for the duets gig at the Town Hall. He sent me the list of proposed songs and there are some great selections in there.
Q: What can you tell me about your involvement in Paul Smith & Friends and why should people come?
I don’t know if the setlist is a secret or not so I’m not sure I should say which songs I’m singing - all the guests are doing two or three songs across the night, so it’ll keep it varied and dynamic. I’m just singing as far as I know, so no guitar duties for me - which will be nice for a change!
I’ve met Kathryn Williams a few times over the years - she’s got an incredible voice and I really admire her as an artist. Obviously, I go way back with Field Music as Peter was originally in The Futureheads and we used to share a rehearsal space in Sunderland for a long time. There are some performers involved that I haven’t met before - which makes the idea of singing together quite exciting I think.
*Paul Smith & Friends takes place at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Saturday, September 7. For more information and to buy tickets visit www.middlesbroughtownhall.co.uk.