- Mon, 2011-08-15 11:18
A familiar face on the indie scene, during a break from the much-loved Futureheads (never fear, they're working on a new album...) Dave Hyde hooked up with friend and former Golden Virgins drummer Neil Bassett to create duo Hyde & Beast.
With a shared love for blues, psychedelic pop and pretty much anything made in the sixties or seventies, the pair holed themselves up in Neil's Sunderland studio, making a track a day almost by accident. Soon realising they were onto something, Hyde & Beast began to cement itself. With fellow Sunderland musicians on board for their live show, including the Futurhead's Barry, David Brewis of Field Music and solo artist Lucas Renney, the duo have produced an exciting collection of blues driven, classic pop.
I Like Music caught up with Dave and Neil to chat about putting the record together, their shared musical passions, the new acapella Futureheads record and why they've decided to self-release.
"I Like Music because… it makes my back feel wetter. That doesn't make a lot of sense, but I listen to music when I'm in the bath quite a lot. I think I'd probably get bored and I'd want to get out the bath, but because I've got music on I stay in there longer and therefore, I get wetter.” Neil Bassett, Hyde & Beast
ILM: Hello, how are you?
Neil: One of us is wet!
ILM: Oh no! What happened?
Neil: An over enthusiastic greeting at an interview ending in pint spillage.
ILM: Have you been drinking pints and doing interviews?
Neil: Nooooo, no, no. We can't afford to buy them at the rate Dave spills them.
ILM: Thanks for taking the time out of your day to chat to us! We met the Futureheads last year, I heard you a few weeks ago on Mark Riley's BBC6Music show, very excited to chat to you both about Hyde & Beast! How long have you both known each other? I know Sunderland is home for you both...
Neil: Dave was still in school when I first met him. I wasn't. And he turned up at a gig night that I used to frequent, wearing a burgandy velvet smoking jacket, which caught my eye, and he kept trying to bum cigarettes off me. Urm...then after that he went off and joined with Futureheads and they started doing gigs together. But that was our first meeting. Our eyes met across a crowded gig venue and he came up asking for cigarettes...
ILM: And you've stayed in touch ever since?
Dave: It was weird actually because a few years ago I was really busy with the Futureheads and away for a lot of the year, so we drifted ways for a little bit. Then, when the Futureheads got quiet Neil was running a studio in Sunderland and we just decided to start working on stuff really.
ILM: Right. It says on the Hyde and Beast website that your album almost came about by accident, recording a track by day. It seems as if you find it quite easy to work together? That once you started it was difficult to stop?
Neil: It was difficult to get rid of him.
Neil: He came into the studio and he wouldn't leave, so I just had to play along.
ILM: You brought in David Brewis and Lucas Renney as well. At what stage did they come in?
Neil: With Lucas and Dave it was quite late on. They both played on a seperate song each. Those songs were both ninety percent finished but were just lacking something. The one where Dave came in, Dave Brewis, Dave Hyde wasn't even with us, you were away.
Dave: Yeah, I was somewhere.
Neil: America possibly or somewhere like that. I asked Dave Brewis to come in and add something and the first time Dave Hyde heard it was when he got back off holiday. With Lucas it was a similar thing, we had the song ninety percent finished but we just wanted a little bit of...moondust sprinkling on it! They were both lacking something we couldn't provide and those guys really made those to songs for me.
ILM: How would you describe your process of working together? How did songs take shape and come together?
Dave: It was a little bit of a mess to be honest with you. Well, just because we didn't really have a lot to work with on each day. So we would arrive at the studio not really having much at all and then kind of plug away at it all day and then ten 'o clock at night comes and we seemed to have something that we could work with. Nothing was ever planned or thought about, everything was very much on the day.
Neil: It was all a bit kind of, how would you put it...trippy, it's all a bit trippy in that studio of mine. There's no windows and you kind of don't realise how time's passed and it gets very hot in there, I don't know...we can't remember a lot about it really. It sounds daft but it was almost as if it was just kind of happening and then at the end of the day we had a song.
ILM: Sounds cool though? That's a good thing?
Neil: Yeah, well, it's confusing! We've been asked a few times about certain sounds on the record and things like that. We can't remember a lot of it. I don't think we could do it again.
ILM: Instead of focusing on certain sounds, how would you decsribe your shared influences and inspirations? Your site says 'this is what happens when you let two drummers make an album together...' What were the musical synergies? What are you both in to?
Dave: I listen to a lot of old blues records like Slim Harper and John Lee Hooker and all of that stuff. And Neil is very much into...
Neil: I try and find odd psychedelic music, sixties and seventies. I think the main affinity that we have is that we both don't really listen to much music that wasn't created in the fifties, sixties and seventies. If you look through our record collections there's a lot of older music. Dave kind of sticks to the blues and I'm kind of trawling the internet to try and find something odd that will light my fire...
ILM: You played a show on the 11th June at North Shore Students Union. Was that the first official Hyde and Beast show?
Neil: No, we'd done two before that. That gig was with The Stranglers. It was a good gig. It wasn't our first gig.
ILM: How was the first show? I know your live incarnation is slightly bigger?
Neil: Terrifying to be honest with you, but we got through it. I don't know. It's a very odd thing to be playing guitar and being at the front all of a sudden. I think it's a matter of time before I get comfortable with that.
Dave: The first gig was a success. It was a really small room that we played in Sunderland but it was packed out and everybody liked it, none of us fell off stage or anything like that. So yeah, it was enjoyable. We were on a bit of a buzz afterwards weren't we? I was...
Neil: Yeah, yeah. It was a great first show. It's been downhill since then to be honest.
ILM: For your show supporting The Stranglers, The Futureheads were on the bill as well. Dave, you played twice? You must have been knackered?
Dave: I was very tired, very tired, but it was worth it though, it was a good night you know? Yeah, two gigs for me that night. It was a bit of a stress on to be honest...
Neil: That's Phil Collins shit that. Like Live Aid. Phil Collins did one gig in the UK and one in America. You've got some steps to go before you get to there Dave.
Dave: Yeah. I know. I'll get there.
ILM: You have a few more shows coming up this summer too. What can we expect? Who will be there with you?
Dave: Yeah, we've got a six member band now. Sometimes seven whether our trumpet fella is there or not. Yeah, we got a few of our good friends to join us. Barry from the Futureheads is playing keys in Hyde and Beast and singing and playing various percussion instruments.
Neil: Yeah, we've got Lucas who used to be the singer in the Golden Virgins, he's playing guitar and we've got Steve Angus on bass, Jamie Landley is playing guitar for us. It's hard to keep track... I think that might be it. We're not bothered who it is as long as there's someone there to make up the numbers.
ILM: The album is released on your own label Tail Feather Records. Why have you chosen to self-release?
Neil: I don't really know. I think the music industry has changed so much now that there isn't the need for the place of the label now, so to speak. The whole online thing makes it very easy for anybody to record an album at home and get it out online. In many ways the old traditional record label is on the decline I think. I suppose we're just keeping up with the times. When in rome...
ILM: What are the benefits of releasing on your own label?
Neil: The benefits are that you're not really under any amount of pressure and you're not working to a clock. And that works a lot better. I think a lot of major labels are looking at getting songs in the charts, aren't they really?
Dave: Yeah, I mean it goes without saying but major labels are purely on the idea of making a lot of money you know? A lot of great music out there doesn't really turn over a lot of money, so you know, I don't know. There's different sides. They want a lot of money instantly, they want you to make them a lot of money really quickly and they don't really have a long term plan a lot of them.
Neil: The artistry gets lost I think.
Neil: This works out better for us because we're lazy.
ILM: There's also a new Futureheads album on the way. An acapella album, featuring acapella re-workings of old Futureheads tracks, which sounds SO exciting! When can we expect that? Is it finished?
Dave: We're almost done with that. I think we've got three more tracks to do for that. I think the plan is to get it out in Autumn time, so yeah, we're all really pleased with it. It's been hard work though, it's a completely different process to writing a guitar album, obviously. You spend all day singing rather than playing, it's been quite an odd process but we're all really chuffed with it, really proud of what we've done.
Neil: I managed to hear a bit of it the other day myself, and it sounds massive. Which is odd when there's no kind of electric guitars, or...well, there's no instruments, just voices, but somehow it sounds huge.
Dave: A lot of over-dub.
ILM: How many parts are there in each song?
Neil: I think on some of the songs there's like forty vocal tracks to a part, you know? We kind of recorded one part, then swapped parts, then over-dubbed each others parts, whilst singing... If you get what I mean? It sounds good you know? Considering there's only the four of us...
ILM: What have you been listening to recently?
Neil: I've been listening lately to Creedence Clear Water Revival, which is a bit of an old one. Modern stuff, I kind of like a band called Colour Music, I like them at the minute.
Dave: Generally a lot of old stuff with me and Neil. I don't listen to a lot of modern music to be honest with you. Just the blues greats, Slim Harper, I'm a massive fan of The Band. Recently I bought a Ken Dodd vinyl from a charity shop the other week.
Neil: Have you listened to it?
Neil: Is it good?
Dave: It's rubbish. So that's what I've been listening to. Ken Dodd.
ILM: How about the Sunderland scene, anything new we should look up?
Neil: Yeah, there's loads of stuff. Field Music, Frankie and The Heartstrings, a band called BEAK, Where The Feast Are, a band called Chased By Wolves who I get in my studio a little bit...
ILM: What are your future plans with Hyde and Beast?
Dave: We're releasing the album in August which traditionally isn't a great time to release an album. There's not a lot of bands who tour in that time because of all the festivals that are going on. I think we'll start becoming a lot busier from September.
Neil: We have a few North East shows, then we'll bravely venture down to London for a show there. Then there will be a little run of shows in September to properly promote the album. Aside from that, I want to start recording again. We've got Slow Down out the way, I think it's time to start Speed Up.