TMF meets Hyde & Beast

Hyde & Beast may not be what you would expect from a side project from The Futureheads’ Dave Hyde and Neil Bassett, he of Golden Virgins credentials. The indie sound is still there, but takes backstage to a sound laden with the unknown: upbeat country-tinged riffs clash against dark lyrics to create something rather unique. A self-described ‘sprawling, gentle psychedelic mess’, Hyde & Beast bend the rules (for one, both members of the duo are primarily drummers), recording at a pace of a song a day, yet still producing songs that seem anything but rushed.

With their first UK tour kicking off this month and single ‘You Will Be Lonely’ due for release on the 14th, the rest of 2012 is going to be a busy year for the Sunderland based supergroup. The video for their single gives messages of self discovery and new beginnings. Although in the words of director Ian West, it could also be ‘just a guy in a bear suit’...

With their live set seeing the duo transform into a 6-piece, be sure to catch them for what will inevitably be a wonderfully weird musical adventure. We caught up with Mr. Neil for a few quick words.

Obviously having two drummers is not that common in band set ups at the moment. Did working together come easily or was there any conflict between you, particularly when it came to percussion?

Strangely, we didn’t really pay any attention to drumming/percussion. The drums were always the last thing we recorded on each song - which is wrong! We are very different drummers anyway. We can play the same stuff but we play it in different ways. When I watch Dave drumming it looks so alien to me that he may as well be using spaghetti as drum sticks. He is a great drummer. Don’t tell him I said so though.

You played your first London show in August. Having not been together too long, how did you feel it went?

I had so much fun that when it was time to get in the van and retire to our Peterborough hotel, I hid, ditched the band and stayed in London. It was a blast. The show itself went well; we crow-barred ourselves onto the tiny stage but it was fun. The audience seemed to like it too. We are back in London at the Water Rats on the 16th.

What can we expect from a Hyde & Beast live set?

You can expect so many of us onstage that it becomes difficult for any of us to move without chinning another band member accidentally. There are normally six or seven of us onstage and although we are playing the album we are not trying to faithfully recreate it. We experiment with it a little, even "rock out" slightly at times - although I need to point out that we don't do this with our "cock out" (as the saying goes). We play most of the album and also through in a cover version of an old Savoy Brown song.

Some of the lyrics are quite dark, which sometimes contrasts the sound of your music. What was the inspiration behind them?

For me, some of the greatest songs have really upbeat or happy music and dark, sad lyrics. It’s a great combination. Just listen to early Motown stuff. But we didn’t set out to write dark words on purpose, it just turned out that way. Its grim up north ya know!

Your music is pretty experimental; were there artists who you had in mind during the making of your album?

Nothing in mind really to be honest. We were both listening to a lot of music from pre-1973 at the time. We still do really, stuff from back then just sounds more honest to me. Recently I have been listening to a lot of 1950s doo-wop stuff. Musically I seem to be travelling back in time! Ask me again in a year and I wouldn’t be surprised if I said that I'd just got in from a club where I had been drinking mead and dancing to some banging Gregorian chant!

Can we expect more releases from Hyde & Beast?

Definitely more releases. We have ideas seeping from our pores at the moment. It’s just tricky finding the time to record. If you have seen our new video you will see that a lot of my time is taken up enjoying my fetish of dressing as a bear! Dave has just finished recording a new acapella Futureheads album which is sounding immense and should be seeing the light of day soon.

Did you find recording the album at home altered the recording experience for you? Was it better than being in a studio?

We didn’t actually record it at home. I run a small recording studio in Sunderland and this is where we recorded it. It was kinda like home because it was my studio. I guess it was relaxed and easy to record because there was no need to have any one else like engineers/producers around and we were not constantly watching the clock. It was just fun really, we didn’t know we were making an album. I just thought we were titting around!

Sum up the sound of Hyde & Beast in three words.

Wonky, pretty, mess.

The Hyde & Beast album 'Slow Down' is available now on Tail Feather Records.

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