In my latest interview with Sheffield bands, I met up with ‘For Our Futures’ ahead of their headline slot at the O2 Academy on the 19th October to discuss the show and the history of one of Sheffield’s fastest growing groups.
‘For Our Futures’ is one of the fastest growing bands in the Sheffield music scene. Consisting of lead vocalist Thomas Walker, guitarists Matt Baxter and Liam Gratton, bassist Tyler Bronson and drummer Chris Ogden, the five piece pop-punk post-hardcore group have already played a number of major shows around Sheffield, including a headline at Corporation, and have also released their debut EP all in little more than a year of their formation. Next up for the band was a headline slot at the O2 Academy in their home town and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with them ahead of the show to find out more about all aspects of band life.
When I first asked the band how they were feeling ahead of their headline slot at the O2 Academy, it was clear that they felt it was an opportunity to take the band to the next level. “I’m looking forward to it. We just need to make sure we’re consistent with our practices and that we sound right” lead guitarist Matt told me, before Chris pointed out that ““We’ve been quiet for a while so this is a shout out to everyone that we want to go from silence to being loud and out there.”
“The talk of the town!” the lead vocalist Thomas added, before Matt joked “And to show that we’re still actually a band!”
The group has grown rapidly, having only formed in September 2012 and now headlining the O2 Academy after playing a number of shows around Sheffield and other local towns and cities. However, the group explained to me how they feel there has been a “dip” in recent weeks and this show was important to getting back to their best.
“I’d say one of the main priorities now is to show we’ve got past it and we’re trying to progress as a better band. And I think with this headline that’s coming up we’re going to spark something new and give a new impression on people.”
For Our Futures have played the venue on a number of occasions, but the upcoming show was their first time headlining it – an exciting prospect for any band. “We’ve definitely got to set a bar to break because with our last headline (at Corp) we set a bar and we haven’t been reaching that since so this time we’re hoping to smash it.”
All the members of the group spoke excitedly about the academy, telling me “It’s a good size, good sound. It’s good for us.” Of course, compared to some of the smaller venues in which the band have performed, the O2 brand name is much more well known across the country and drummer Chris explained how he felt “I think that’s what’s good for us. Having our name next to ‘O2’ is good, it promotes itself really.”
Not to take anything away from the smaller venues however, Tyler was quick to point out that “One thing about us though is that whether we are playing in front of one person, or a thousand people, we still put the same effort in to our performance.”
2013 has already been a big year for ‘FOF’. August saw the release of ‘Chapter 1’, their six-track debut EP. It is available on ITunes and having listened to the EP myself, I would definitely recommend it to music fans.
‘Hold Your Breath’ is one of the stand out songs of the EP in my opinion. “That was the second song we wrote as For Our Futures so that was one we’d been playing for quite a long time. To finally record it after so long was good.”
It was recorded in the band’s practice room which they all told me was a great experience which they learnt a lot from. “It was hard. There were some hard times recording, but there were good times too. And in the end it all came together just how we wanted it.”
“Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong!” The group told me about the “rollercoaster ride” they had recording the EP, telling me about issues with various guitars, Thomas’ illness affecting his vocals and more. “But we look back now and all that is why we enjoyed it” Chris explained. “It’s been up and down, it’s been hard and it’s been easy. That’s why we loved it the day we brought it out. It’s all done and it’s out there.”
Unlike many bands, all the members of the group have taken part in the song writing process. “If any of us have got an idea then we bring it to the band and we either develop on it or just chuck it!”
“With the EP, Tyler and Liam had only recently joined the band so me (Chris) and Matt pretty much wrote all of it apart from a couple of songs.” Lead vocalist Thomas has also begun to play a big role in writing the songs for the band, writing the song ‘Lost Little Boy’. “It was good to get some lyrics down because I just had lots of stuff in my head.”
And his fellow band members speak very highly of his writing. “He doesn’t just write songs for the sake of writing songs, he wants the meanings to come out and say to people what many can’t say. I think on a stage with four guys playing music around him, he can put that message across.” explained Tyler and Chris.
The band is clearly very passionate about the music they make and feel their lyrics are relatable for many people. “I think there’s certain situations where our lyrics help people and speak to people. We’re speaking for people, but in a bigger way by putting it with music. I think the fans have a voice. It’s not a case of the people performing and the people in the crowd, we’re all one big thing. Without them it wouldn’t be us.”
The launch show for the EP was at Corporation in Sheffield on August 4th.”It was the sweatiest night ever!”
That show was the first ever headline slot for the band, but the response from fans was rapturous. “So many people turned out for it and they were all there to see us which was great!”
“To see people there listening to our music, dancing, wearing our merch. We never expected it! Before that night, we never really realised how many people were behind us. It’s like all our little crowds came together and it overwhelmed us a little.”
Tyler pointed out the feeling of joy at seeing fans enjoying the music. “The thing that I found most interesting was that even though no one had actually ever heard our recorded stuff, you could see people getting the jist of the lyrics and trying to hum the melodies and just moving around to something they’d probably only heard once.”
And the feedback to that show was something that clearly delighted every one of the band members. “We came back here (to the practice room) after to celebrate and we had champagne! But we all got our phones out and the feedback was great. Our phones were buzzing all night”
The group recently received their first radio play when one of their songs was played on BBC Radio Sheffield. “That was quite surreal. To actually hear our track being played on the radio, to hear someone introduce us on the radio, it was a weird experience!”
“We got an email from Radio Sheffield and we just told everyone. We got the champagne out again! It was just a great feeling. Even for the DJ to like what he heard and put us on, it’s one more person liking us and I think it’s great.”
The story of the bands formation could fill an entire article on its own! “We could go on for hours!” Matt jokingly told me when I first enquired about the history of the group.
The original members, Chris and Matt, began explaining how the group’s roots go right back to school with the two of them and three other members. “We started in school, just jamming out and learning some covers. We were put in a band and we enjoyed it so we started to take it more seriously. We all got together and carried it on, doing a few pub gigs. It just progressed and progressed.”
Lead singer Thomas joined the band after an advertisement on the social networking site Facebook as the band searched for a singer. “When I first joined I had no stage experience whatsoever” he told me, which is quite remarkable considering the strength of his performance and the stage presence he already has little more than a year on. “It was first time on stage and I loved it. I’m still progressing and I’ve just got better as I’ve been on stage more. That’s what I enjoy”
Tyler, the group’s current bassist, was next to join ‘FOF’. “We knew Tyler for a long time before he actually got into the band” Matt explained before Tyler told me, speaking very passionately about the band, how he came to be a part of it. “I was in another band doing gigs and For Our Futures supported. As that band peaked and then dropped, everyone lost interest so I was seeking for another band that still had the same interest and same music taste as I do . I saw this band was a better band than the one I was in and I just kind of weaselled my way in!”
This was clearly a time of difficulty and constant change for the band, who quickly went from a six-piece to a four-piece as the original bassist and guitarist both left the group. “And as our band grew, musical differences just came in, styles became a thing and it just put a big wall up. It came out that us three (Chris, Matt, Thomas) stuck it together and Tyler came in.”
Guitarist Liam Gratton is the newest member of the band “Liam was one of the first guitarists we trialled and then we trialled all the rest of them and we took a shine to him straight away.”
He explained how he was desperate to make the step up. “I needed it so badly because I was in a band before and it was just a dead end cover band playing in pubs. I couldn’t take it anymore!”
Who came up with the current band name seems to be something of a mystery, but the meaning behind it is far from it. “‘For Our Futures’ is basically what it stands for, this band is for our futures. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s quite a dominant meaning”. All five members of the band spoke passionately about what the name means and what the band stands for in their opinion.
“We’ve all been in bands where it’s dipped. We’ve all been in places where it’s dipped. We’ve just got to forget about that and keep moving. And to be honest this here, the band, it’s what keeps us all going. We’ve had dips ourselves but it keeps us motivated and we all have a good laugh too.” Chris explained, with it clear to see how much the band means to him personally.
The group originally went under the title of ‘Live For Today’, but the group quickly explained that there were a number of reasons why the band had to change. Firstly, after a number of new members they decided they wanted it to be “a new start” for the band. Also, and perhaps most humorously, they told me how the name caused much confusion amongst music fans.
“It was Live for Today, but everyone said it as ‘Live’ for Today. When we headlined it was Live for Today and then all the other bands and they didn’t think we were a band! So we changed the name for people to understand!”
Every band has its inspirations and when I asked about who inspired the pop-punk, post-hardcore sound of ‘FOF’ I quickly got an abundance of names in response. “You Me At Six really kicked us off into writing music. And as we grew, our music library grew and I think all that is what made us in to what we are now”
The band explained how they feel their sound has become heavier as they have progressed, with bands such as Linkin Park, Bury Tomorrow and Memphis May Fire have all inspired them towards this change. “We’ve taken elements from god knows how many bands. We just take them and use them as inspirations.”
Jason Butler, the lead vocalist of the band Letlive, was mentioned as a personal inspiration of bassist Tyler. “The way he performs is what I’d like to see in a band. What he does is throw himself around and interact with the crowd as much as he can and that is what I do.” True to his word, Tyler was particularly energetic during the O2 show, even coming off the stage during the performance to get involved with the audience.
For up and coming bands anywhere, there are many challenges to face and overcome and it is no different for ‘For Our Futures’. Money and time are the two biggest setbacks for any upcoming group. “Other commitments can often get in the way” Thomas told me. And the group do clearly understand how difficult success can be to come by. “We do take it seriously, but we’re not going to throw everything away for this. We do it as much as we can and we enjoy it.”
However, there are of course many more positives from being in a band. For Our Futures are clearly very passionate about what they do, telling me how “even the bad things all have positive meanings behind them.” They also clearly have huge fondness for their fans, which something which is clearly necessary as the band explained “when you’re at our level you can lose your fan base very quickly. They can make or break you. We write for them.”
After the release of ‘Chapter 1’ earlier in the year, I wondered whether a full album could be on the horizon for the group. “We definitely want to record another album at some point, whether it’s a full album or an EP.”
“We’ve just started writing again so these ideas that we’re writing at the moment could eventually turn in to a full album.” But once again the issue of money for a young band comes up, with Matt telling me how that the answer would have a lot to do with funding.
When I asked about the overall aspirations for the band, I heard a number of goals – ranging from both big and small. “Every band’s dream is to get big. Just to live off what you love doing.” Matt told me, before joking that “The Motorpoint Arena would be decent!”
Thomas jumped in exclaiming his wish to perform at the Brixton Academy in London. “That’d be amazing!“.
While these targets may still be some way off for the band, who are still really in their infancy, they have made some progress towards certain goals already. “One of the goals I’ve stood by for a long time is just for a crowd to sing back at Tom’s lyrics and to see me in the street and say, that’s the drummer from For Our Futures.” Chris told me.
“It’s starting to get to the point where people are recognising us for being from the band and it’s really surreal.” Tyler explained with some pride, before Chris pointed out how as the drummer, this goal would be a privilege as “no one ever sees me!”
The band is also looking to broaden their horizons and tour around the country. “We want to organise some tours in the following year. None of us have had the experience of touring properly.”
The show itself was a hugely enjoyable evening with ‘For Our Futures’ closing with an entertaining, energetic performance. Supported by local bands ‘Such Sights’, ‘Or Die Trying’, ‘Suborbital Lobotomy’ and ‘Trust Within’ – ‘For Our Futures’ played a superb 40 minute set that included a number of songs from their debut EP. Thomas’ performance as lead vocalist was powerful while Chris played the drums with such passion that he cracked his snare! It was my first time seeing the band perform live and I was hugely impressed, I will definitely be seeing them again and I’d certainly recommend them to anybody!
Announced during the performance was the release of the bands first music video, for their song ‘Lost Little Boy’, which will be unveiled tomorrow (Monday 21st October) on the bands official YouTube channel.
“That song is primarily about bullying” Thomas explained. “It’s quite personal and based on being bullied and put down. And I think the video will explain quite a lot of meaning.”
The video was recorded by friends of the band a few weeks after the release of the EP. “We haven’t got the money or the funding to do a proper video, but we wanted to put it across the best we could and I think it worked.”
During the interview, Tyler joked that “To sum For Our Futures up as a band is probably gigs and champagne!” After such a good performance on such a big night for them, I’m sure the champagne will once again have been out in celebration! And well deserved too!
I’d like to say a big thank you to ‘For Our Futures’ – Thomas, Tyler, Matt, Liam and Chris for agreeing to do the interview and putting on such a great show on Saturday night. Great guys and a great band. Spending some time with them allowed me to see how passionately they all feel about what they do and with that mix of passion and ability, I am sure you will hear a lot more from ‘FOF’ in the future!