In the year 2000 The Futureheads (newly formed), Field Music (then under the different guises of Electronic Eye Machine and the New Tellers) and Peter Stebbing (Pretty Girl 5) formed a music collective in Sunderland. There were eight of us, so we rather astutely named it '8music'. Why oh why we didn’t call it OCTAVE is beyond me, haha. We had this idea that it would become an arts cooperative and in many senses it failed (we never did read those plays, Stebb) but its overriding purpose of being a centre from which we could produce music has paid off in spades.
The building itself is nothing special: an old college converted into a community centre in which we hire a room. Inside: a vocal PA, a mixing desk, some microphones and enough guitar amps to sink a small island are the calling cards of too many musicians practising in too small a space. This is where we recorded our second EP (the first having been done in the Brewis brothers’ bedroom). The Futureheads then compromised of me, Barry, Ross and Peter Brewis and we enlisted the help of David Brewis to record it. Dave Hyde did the artwork. The Futureheads have recorded many things in that room: a live version of 'Hounds of Love' that was given away at Xmas 2005, demos for the first album. All of This Is Not The World’s rehearsing was done in there, indeed all of our rehearsing since ‘Barry’s garage’ has been done there.
Hazy image from musicalrooms.wordpress.com
The Brewis Brothers have made many albums in that room (two Field Music, one New Tellers, one School of Language, one The Week That Was plus countless other one offs and demos. Stebb has made all his recordings in there and practises there when he can be bothered to let others into his musical myriad mind. Dave and Peter record other bands in there when they have time (John Monroe/Milky Whimpshake).
I wish I had a link to this but I haven’t: in the winter of 2002 we put on a Christmas gig in which we arranged Christmas carols and songs and performed them for anyone who fancied it. It was fancy dress of course – I went as a Christmas present (wearing a huge box with holes cut in so I could play the guitar and piano – which was a lot harder than it sounds). Last year, we did a Queen tribute band for a charity Christmas gig (we must have been truly awful but man was it fun).
8music, I guess, has its roots in the youth project that brought the Futureheads together – run by the council and a couple of music loving, enthusiastic Youth workers. In many ways, it was a forerunner to the Sunderland Music Forum: a cooperative of musicians, venues and businessmen linked to the council striving to make Sunderland a better music city that has just started this year. So 8music, a cooperative set up so we could afford to practise, share resources and rehearse together has served us pretty well and should be one of the first things like-minded musicians look to do in cities all over the place, if you ask me.
There's plenty more coming up from The Futureheads throughout this week. The band are currently on tour, click here for a full list of dates.