Leeds post-punk outfit, FEHM, have been a respected featured on the Northern circuits for quite some time now. Their classic approach to sound has not got unnoticed, and forays South and beyond are becoming an even more regular occurrence for a band that has grown not only in reputation, but also in size. As more and more people encounter and engage, we thought it high time we got them to introduce themselves…
BM: You’ve fairly recently grown from a three piece to a five piece. Who’s who?
Paul: We are now a 5 piece band which consists of me (Paul) on vocals, Amy on bass, Darren on keys, Ben on guitar and Chris on drums.
BM: You are very much seen as a Leeds band – which is a good thing – are you all from Leeds?
Paul: We are from all over but primarily based in Leeds as we all live here. Me and Chris are from Leeds, Amy is from Teesside, Darren is from Southport and Ben is from Cheshire. Myself and Chris are brothers so we grew up together, I met Amy in a bar many moons ago and I met Darren through him coming to an early FEHM gig. We got talking and we shared a vast amount of love for the same music and became friends, he got me a job working with him which is where Ben also worked.
BM: How did you all get to FEHM? Were there other bands?
Paul: Myself and Chris were in a band when we were younger and starting out, it was very Velvet Underground / Strokesi. Only that and FEHM. Amy has only ever been in FEHM. Darren & Ben however were in a band called Gundogs before joining FEHM (click here to see feature on Gundogs from a few years back). FEHM was originally a 4 piece, then it moved down to a 3 piece and then up to what it is now at 5. The band for me never really felt complete until we all joined together. I actually pestered Darren & Ben to join for literally about 2 years until I finally got my way ha.
BM: Was it a big transition from a 3 to a 5 piece?
Paul: When we became a 5 piece the first few practices were actually really easy. Instead of learning our old songs as priority which we’d been playing as a 3 piece we just started writing new songs instead. ‘Last Breath’ was a combination of me and Darren combining 2 of our songs together and changing the key on 1 of them. It was obviously a learning curve as none of us had ever been in a band this big before. When you go from a 3 piece for us and a 2 piece for Ben and Darren you have a lot of space for silence as your limited by what you can do. When there are 5 of you, you have to complement each other more and work with all the sounds at once.
BM: Your latest release Scarborough Warning / The Sea To Come has, like much of your other stuff, got a definitive 80’s synth band feel to it. Your obviously fans of the era…
Paul: We all bonded over our love of 80’s music really as it’s something we all take a massive interest in.
BM: which 80’s bands would you say have influenced you the most?
Paul: There are too many to mention because we take inspiration from a lot of different things. I would however mainly say, Depeche Mode & New Order. However there are literally about a 1000 bands we take inspiration from.
BM: And where did the interest begin? Was music a big part of growing up?
Paul: My parents never really played music around the house. I got into music through my brother. I always liked music from being a very small child and when I was around 11 is when I started taking an actual interest in it. My first love of music was happy hardcore and trance music, I had a friend at the time who had some decks and we dreamed of becoming super star DJ’s. As I started getting a little older I started appreciating the music Chris was playing, which was Oasis, Beatles, The Verve, Stone Roses – that sort of stuff. Noel Gallagher is the reason I bought my first guitar believe it or not. Then the more you get into bands the wider your appreciation goes which eventually led me to the whole 80’s scene.
BM: Back to the release, can you tell us a bit more about the meaning behind the tracks?
Paul: Scarborough Warning is fundamentally about asking questions on why we can’t all stand together regardless of sex, race or religion. It jumps between first, second and third person perspectives, from my own thought process to that of other peoples. The Sea To Come is primarily a love song written in an unconventional way. It flutters through times of struggle whilst knowing, whoever it may be, at any cost, will always be there for you.
We recorded it back in February with Matt Peel at The Nave Studios. Matt’s a good friend of ours now and I’ve known him about 4 years, we always record with Matt.
BM: I know that your all quite keen on the imagery that goes with your music…
Paul: Artwork is very important to us. We’re all into art in general. Amy studied art in her degree/masters and Ben owns a photography book shop in Leeds (Village Bookshop). It’s something we talk about a lot and mull over for a long period of time before deciding on something. It has to evoke a similar feeling from what the songs are sounding like.
BM: With their been five of you, who or how do you decide what fits?
Paul: It’s basically a free for all, every one pitches in idea’s and we try out a ton before deciding. It goes down to the majority vote within the band in the end.
BM: Do you apply the same ethos to writing the songs?
Paul: It’s very much a collaborative thing. Usually myself of Darren have the basic idea for a song and then it evolves from there with everyone else’s input along the way. I have early recordings on my phone of everything I’ve ever written and it always turns out quite a bit different in the end. 5 minds are better than 1.
BM: If you were to be given the option, would you prefer time working with the band in the studio or time performing together on stage?
Paul: I would say it’s hand in hand, I can’t pick my favourite because they all offer similar feelings and emotions just at different periods. You can write a song and think it’s great, which then offers the same sort of feeling when you play live and the show has been mint, which also offers the same feeling when you’re in the studio and the songs starting to take shape into what it will become. When it’s good, it’s great, there is no other feeling like it.
BM: I’ve seen you a few times live. I’d say you were quite an arresting band on stage – what would you say?
Paul: Upbeat, dancey, energetic, euphoric.
BM: Tell us about the first time you played as a 5 piece.
Paul: Our first gig as a 5 piece was at The Brudenell Social Club for our Circadian Life Ep Release. We were supposed to play some songs as a 3 piece and then I was gonna introduce Ben & Darren to come on and say they’d joined the band and play the new stuff. In typical fashion something happened and my pedal board went crazy and everything stopped working for some reason, which meant as they walked on they just had to stand there for about 10 minutes whilst the pedal situation got sorted out.
BM: Do you have a particular gig that stands out as a favourite?
Paul: I’d probably say Bluedot just gone. It was great to play to so many people at a festival and it was our first time playing one. Or any show at the Brudenell as it’s the best venue in the world…….
BM: Any gigs you’d rather forget?
Paul: I can’t think of any gig that’s been that bad it’s stood out. We did play 2 shows back to back at Off The Record in Manchester, someone pulled out so we got asked to play twice so we said yes. Our first show was a 1 in 1 out scenario as it was full but the roof was leaking over our equipment. There was some major sound problems too and the DI’s weren’t working. It felt like an eternity to get it sorted. We could only play 4 songs and then had to stop. We packed up and moved everything to the venue around the corner to play again all in the space of about 15 mins. It was all good fun though.
BM: Which songs do you like performing live the best?
Paul: Anything that’s new. I get bored easily of old songs, I throw my dummy out often about practicing them down the room and I moan weekly about just learning new stuff haha.
BM: You’ve got a few gigs coming up –
- 02/08 – Hull – The New Adelphi
03/08 – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
09/08 – Newcastle – Think Tank? Underground
10/08 – Manchester – The Castle Hotel
11/08 – London – The Shacklewell Arms
-what are your plans for the rest of the year ?
Paul: We’ve currently been recording our debut album for 5 weeks with Matt Peel at The Nave Studio. The plan is to play live as much as possible.
BM: Along with yourselves who else would you recommend our readers look out for?
Paul: Drahla, L.D Moses, Treeboy & Arc, Lumer, Vulgarians
BM: And finally. How do you get a name like FEHM ?
Paul: It is an abbreviation of ‘For Everything Has Meaning’