THE guys of FEHM have been pretty busy…
which is why Human Age is actually their latest single – Last Breath was out when the questions were pitched. It doesn’t matter as the two songs are part of a double A-side. I get a glimpse into the background and stories of both– and what we can expect before the year is through.
The Leeds-based band talk about important albums and artists; how they have evolved in the past few years; what Leeds’ music scene is like right now – and what to expect from their upcoming L.P.
Hi, FEHM. How are you? How has your week been?
Paul: Aye. We’re all good, ta. Week’s been fine.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
We're FEHM; a five-piece band in Leeds consisting of Paul, Amy; Ben, Chris and Darren (Denzel).
Before I go on; can I ask what the inspiration behind ‘FEHM’ is?
I guess our inspiration is connected to bands and musicians coming out, predominantly, around the 1980s - from Post-Punk to Goth; to New-Wave etc.
It's the sound we're most connected to as a whole band.
Last Breath is out. What can you reveal about its story and start?
When we became a five-piece; we had a few songs separately. I had a song I'd written - and so did Darren. We changed the key of my song and merged the two together to fit for a verse and chorus. Ben went away and wrote the guitar riff the same night; myself and Amy worked on the vocal melody that week. The overall process of that song was generally extremely easy: it all just happened really quickly. After we had the shell and basis of the song; we started to go over it with a fine comb; the arpeggio intro. on the synth came around then.
We were also very close to recording the song, maybe a day or two, before and Ben had the idea of - after the breakdown - everyone stops and the guitar riff just plays by itself - and everyone kicks back in on the second bar.
The lyrics I wrote over a period of time: some, when we first started making the song; some later. I work in a hospital and the song is fundamentally about seeing people in a lot of pain during their final days - they're looking for a release but, if they let go, it's the end.
Human Age is the other side of the single. What was the idea behind a double A-side and is it good to be back after a bit of a break?
There wasn’t any specific idea behind doing a double A-side. When Ben and Denz joined the band, we just wrote these two songs pretty quickly and then recorded them. So, we’ve been sat on them for a while and we wanted something to bridge the gap between the Circadian Life E.P., and then, our album to come - so thought it was perfect.
It’s great to have the songs up and about for people to hear - as we’ve had them for months.
Your debut L.P. is out later in the year. Can you tell us about the title and songs that will be on it?
We don't have any titles yet: we don't even have song titles.
Last Breath was called 'Merger' because we merged two songs together - right up until about a month ago when it became Last Breath.
Regarding the album; it'll consist of about ten/eleven songs. We've become a lot more Electronic in the past year - which is where our sound is pushing more towards. We have a saying that if the song doesn't feel 'hearty', then we scrap it. We want the songs to connect with you; make you feel how we feel when we write them...we're trying to find a euphoric sound that encapsulates sorrow with joy.
So far, for the album, we probably have around six-eight songs: some, at the very (very) early stages; some closer to completion.
Darren: We've been concentrating on expanding our sound to write the album and developing ways of introducing new ideas and concepts. We want each song on the album to have a heart so, to achieve this, the chord progressions and melodies are designed to invoke certain feelings and different atmospheres.
How does your current material differ from your previous stuff? Have you made any changes since your earliest work?
Paul: Considerable changes...
Our last E.P. was when we were just a three-piece; which was myself, Amy and Chris: one guitar, one bass and drums. Now, with Denzel and Ben joining, we have a whole new arrangement of instruments - we collectively think about the progression and melodies of songs differently, too.
Leeds is where you hail from. What is the city’s music scene like right now? Is it one of the best places to foster and evolve your music?
The music scene in whole is very good. Regardless of genre, everyone is connected to a few certain places like Wharf Chambers, The Brudenell; Temple of Boom etc. Some places cater a little more to a certain genre but, generally, everyone goes to all the same places - and everyone in Leeds gets behind each other a lot.
Darren: From one perspective; I sometimes worry Leeds may be losing its industrial aesthetic. With an ever-increasing skyline of sparkly high-end developments and the abandoned 1970s high-rises; old factories almost all demolished - a strong source of inspiration that produced some of the world’s greatest Goth bands will disappear forever. I suppose we've always got the Roger Stevens building for our Ballardian dystopia fix.
Can you tell me how the band came together and what those early sessions were like?
Paul: Myself and Chris are brothers and we were in another band many years ago. After it ended, I took some time just writing a load of new music. Me and Amy have been together for around six years so us three decided to start the band around three year ago with a friend of mine. It was very aggressive early on. I used to pace around the stage and shout a lot. It was quite fun for a bit but, when you're writing quite basic music, it becomes tedious rather quickly. We even have a bunch of recorded tracks no one’s even heard before from around that time. I listened to one of them the other day - it's terrible.
My friend left the band and we just became a three-piece - and I went on the guitar. We started thinking more about the arrangements and melodies and spent a lot more time on each individual instrument - which is when we wrote the Circadian Life E.P.
Funnily enough, even before the Circadian Life E.P., I was asking Ben and Darren to join. I've been asking them for a few years.
Then, it finally happened: we became a five-piece.
PHOTO CREDIT: Francesca Tirpak
Do you all share the same music tastes? Who are the bands and artists you were all raised on?
Darren: I'd say we all have a common interest in music from the 1980s but, maybe, prefer different versions of the 1980s. For instance, I'm really interested in the whole Synth. Britannia movement with bands like Depeche Mode; whereas others may be more inclined to the Post-Punk and avant-garde side of the era.
We've got all the bases covered and there's so much to explore from the decade.
Paul: We all have a general love of everything 1980s: the style and culture, the way it was; the sound etc. So, we could list a million bands and musicians that we all love like Depeche Mode and New Order etc. - but we also all have different loves too. Some of us are into experimental music; some of us are into Rap music etc. I think if you pigeon-hole yourself into just liking a certain genre you’re subjecting yourself into missing out on something that could potentially be amazing.
IN THIS PHOTO: Treeboy & Arc
If you each had to select the album that means the most to you; which would it be and why?
I’m afraid we just can’t do an album each…it’s too hard. This is a list of bands and artists that mean a lot to us; either collectively or singular.:
Lowlife, Sisters of Mercy; Cocteau Twins, Radiohead; The Cure, New Order; Depeche Mode, Protomartyr; The Horrors, The Sound; David Bowie; Siouxsie and the Banshees.
PHOTO CREDIT: Francesca Tirpak
What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we see you play?
28th Oct - Wharf Chambers – Leeds
5th Nov - The Brudenell - Leeds (w/Autobahn)
10th Nov - Off the Record – Manchester
19th Nov - The Brudenell - Leeds (w/Protomaytr)
22nd Nov - Broadcast - Glasgow (w/Autobahn).
Does the band have any time off scheduled for this year? Do you get a chance to disconnect from music?
We don’t really take time off, per se. We’ve shared a practice room at Temple of Boom in Leeds with Eagulls for a few years as we’re all mates - but we’ve just recently got our own room due to us writing an album and them writing their new album. We go down a few times a week as a band and we also go down in pairs or by ourselves - to work on certain parts etc.; so it’s pretty full-on in that sense. I wouldn’t say we get the chance to disconnect - but I don’t feel any of us want to do that either.
It’s just a part of who we are.
PHOTO CREDIT: Luke Hallett Photography
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Listen to each other.
You could have the best guitarist in the world but, if you’re not gelling with everyone else, then what’s the point?! Be open: multiple minds are better than one. Don’t be too precious over something you’ve written. Don’t be afraid of letting someone else take it to somewhere you couldn’t think of.
Experiment and try new things.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Darren: O. Children – Heels
Paul: Lowlife - From Side to Side
Amy: The Sound - I Can’t Escape Myself
Ben: Cocteau Twins - A Kissed Out Red Floatboat
Chris: Vitas - 7th Element 2002