Interview: Hyde & Beast
Published on August 2nd, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
Last Friday, we featured the rather splendid “Never Come Back” by Hyde & Beast on our inaugural NewTube feature; so, like the intrepid seekers of truth and justice that we are, we went out and got us some answers to the following, deceptively mild line of questioning.
(Blacked out windows, an abandoned warehouse, some heavy duty rope and a powerful flashlight may or may not have been involved.)
A collaborative project between two Mackem drummers – namely Dave Hyde of The Futureheads and Neil Bassett, formerly of The Golden Virgins – Hyde & Beast are much, much better than would be credited by those who see sticksmen (is there a better synonym for ‘drummers’? Answers on a postcard) as little more than would-be maniacs with a happy knack for rhythm.
Why not check them out for yourselves?…
To mark the August 15th release of their debut album Slow Down, Messrs Hyde and Bassett will play their first ever London show as Hyde & Beast at The Social on Wednesday August 17th. Before all of that though comes next week’s release of “Never Come Back” on the band’s own Tail Feather Records label, so it is with consummate timeliness (if we say so ourselves) that Rocksucker brings you this interview.
Oh, and there is of course also the small matter of the impending, Sunderland-based, Futureheads-curated Split Festival, which this year boasts such names as The Charlatans, Maximo Park, Mystery Jets, Beth Orton, Frankie & The Heartstrings and The King Blues, not to mention Hyde & Beast themselves, on its impressive bill.
Now take it away, us…
What made you guys decide to come together and make music? Have you always dabbled with songwriting on the side?
Neil: We have known each other for years as our respective bands The Futureheads and The Golden Virgins were bitter, bitter enemies. Dave and I put our differences aside and started making music together. It’s like a non-sexy Romeo and Juliet-type story really.
Dave: I haven’t really dabbled with songwriting during The Futureheads that much. But I did start out playing guitar not drums and I’ve only recently got back into it.
What can we expect from the album? Feel free to be as abstract as you like!
Neil: Inviting us to be abstract is possibly a bad idea, like!
Dave: It’s like blossoms from the old mill, you will find.
Neil: Wow! It’s definitely a bit of a trip, the album. It’s a journey, especially if you listen on headphones. There’s a lot of weird stuff on there, mistakes, odd instruments, hidden laughter. I listened to it on headphones the other day for the first time in ages and I could have sworn I heard Dave whisper “farmyards” during one of the songs. I’m sure he didn’t, mind, but there are a lot of odd things going on. We recorded a balloon on one track.
Who made the album’s beautiful cover art?
Dave: We both did it. We glued hundreds of feathers to our bass drum skin.
Neil: In an unventilated room. An interesting afternoon. We drank gin. Gin and glue don’t mix! Then our friend, the photographer Ian West, came round and photographed the finished thing. Looks like a stained glass window. I want to do all the windows in my house the same.
How much of an undertaking has it been organising the Split Festival? Congratulations on assembling such a strong lineup.
Dave: Thanks very much. We are all really excited about this year’s Split Fest. There is a big team working on it, we all get on well so it seemed quite easy to put together as everyone has their own role. Our ambition is to make it bigger and better every year.
Neil: I won’t rest until they finally allow me to host my own bar tent: Beast’s Bar. They won’t let me. Yet. I will not give up.
Will you be putting out anything else on Tail Feather Records?
Dave: Hopefully. Love to think we will do another album soon.
Neil: We have a lot of ideas for new tunes already. Some real Bugsy Malone shit. It could be wild.
Dave, any idea when [new Futureheads album] Rant will be ready for release? Is it really entirely a cappella? A bold move indeed!
Dave: Yeah, it is entirely a cappella. No instruments, we use only our bodies. I think the idea is to have it out in the Autumn. We are all really excited and happy with what we have recorded. It was a crazy process. Suppose it is a bold move but we do sing a lot so it seemed to make sense to us.
Neil: I’ve heard about half of it. It’s crazy good. Sounds massive. Some really mad harmonies going on.
Neil: away from Hyde & Beast, will you be continuing to focus on producing for the foreseeable future? What kind of projects have you been/will you be working on?
Neil: I don’t really produce that often. I run a small studio in Sunderland but don’t hand pick bands to record or anything like that. It’s an open door policy: if you can pay my affordable rates then I will record ya! I’d like to get more involved with producing some albums. I think me and Hyde would make a good production team. We would probably make everyone sound like Hawkwind though!
Are there any up-and-coming artists you’d like to give a shout out to?
Dave: The So So Glos supported the ‘Heads in America. Brilliant Brooklyn-based band.
Neil: I don’t think I would class Creedence Clearwater revival as up-and-coming so I will go for three bands that I recorded in my studio recently: Chased By Wolves (they are supporting us at our Newcastle album launch show), Union Choir (like a Geordie version of The National) and Ashes of Iron (heavy stoner rock).
Finally, could you name – as of this very moment – your top three albums of all time?
Neil: I don’t like albums, really. My attention span is too short. I get bored easily. I make a lot of compilations. But I did like that last Animal Collective album [Merriweather Post Pavilion]. When I am feeling a bit dark I always go back to I See a Darkness by Bonnie Prince Billy. Can I have a compilation that is twenty-seven albums long for my last choice? Yeah? Cool, it would be a twenty-seven-album compilation of Ethiopian funk and soul called Ethiopiques. Those guys are off the Richter scale!
Dave: Transformer by Lou Reed, Meddle by Pink Floyd and Closing Time by Tom Waits.
Neil: Wow. Dark.
Hyde & Beast’s new single “Never Come Back” will be out next week, to be followed by their debut album Slow Down on August 15th, both on the band’s own Tail Feather Records label. For more information, and a list of live dates, please visit hydeandbeast.co.uk