Beautiful Feet: A British band with an unusual type of sole music

Friday 4th March 2005

Tony Cummings asked Nick Castle and Ashley Rowthorn of BEAUTIFUL FEET to fill in some detail.

Beautiful Feet
Beautiful Feet

Tony: Give us the band-story-so-far.

Nick: Beautiful Feet have been on quite a journey since our birth in 2000. There have been some highs, some lows, some things that have amazed us and some things we'd like to forget! After graduating from Leeds University Beautiful Feet lost and gained a bass player and acquired an array of keyboards. We produced our EP 'Something In Mind' that won national praise from the music press. Logo magazine wrote about us, "Songs to fall in love to, and with. Beautiful Feet excel at the kind of intimacy that can only be achieved in a wide open space: the privacy of a crowded festival field or the bubble that grows around lovers in a crowd. An impressive beginning."

Then came the frisbee. Our drummer brought new meaning to the words "Ultimate Frisbee" when his participation in this leisurely activity resulted in a bad wrist injury. As a band, we were adamant not to get a stand-in, so were forced to take a 10 month break during the healing process. This was a hard time for us. We did struggle with some issues during this time but we feel we really came out on top as a result. But we had a great welcome back to the music scene. Radio 1's Chris Moyles told the nation live on his breakfast show to go to the gig in the "Great Leeds", which set the stage nicely for our head turning return to the music scene. The latest line-up may begin to shake off the "acoustic" label with ventures into the wonderful world of electrics and synthesisers, but I believe the foundation of strong songwriting will always remain. Currently, I think our music sits nicely alongside a collection with Keane, Snow Patrol and Coldplay.

Tony: You've made some headway in the mainstream. Do you get twitchy when people call you a "Christian band"?

Nick: Not at all. Society seems to like to label things into a nice category and I think we are all guilty of it. As a band, we are constantly challenging ourselves to think out of the box. Our main focus is to make the best music we can and write thought-provoking, honest lyrics. In the past we have been caught getting bogged down with the long, in depth discussions about which market we should be aiming for; Christian or secular. The reality is all of creation is God's and we want to be active in every part of it. I get excited by the fact that many "Spring Harvest" and "Greenbelt" bands are popping up all over the place.

Beautiful Feet: A British band with an unusual type of sole music

Tony:How do you think 'Headstrong' stands against previous things you've released?

Ashley: We've been really pleased with the outcome of 'Headstrong'. It was the first fruits of an idea we had about changing the way we recorded songs. In the past we've been completely reliant on a small budget to take us into a studio for two or three days and record a track each day. This produced some fairly good results but we really wanted to stretch our creativity and realised a strict time limit in a studio wasn't the best way of going about it. So we thought about setting up our own studio where we could literally spend days working on one guitar part, trying to get the right tone, the right energy and be totally free to thrash around ideas. Last year we were really fortunate to be able to buy some good equipment and have been loaned an excellent desk and a bag of top quality studio mics to play around with. Also a few of the band members were able to take a day off each week to really focus on recording and doing all the boring admin related tasks that come with being in a band. We are by no means professional studio engineers or producers, but we managed to pick up the gist of recording and quickly learnt how to play around with all our ideas. After a few months we had recorded "Headstrong" and "Masterpiece" and took it to an excellent studio in Leeds to be mixed. I think we knew our limits and so if we wanted a great mix we'd need the help of someone who knows what they're doing.

Personally, I'm really pleased with the sound of 'Headstrong'. The lyrics are quite heartfelt and we wanted to capture this in the recording. The key was to fill it with energy, and we tried to achieve that through playing around with the drum parts and sounds. Our sound has changed a bit over the years. I like this recording the most out of our current releases because it's most like our current live set. I'd say most artists tend to look more favourably on recent material than past releases. I think it's a healthy attitude to keep pursuing excellence in your art and to be as creative as you can and not to accept second best. The trick though is to be comfortable with where you are at the moment and enjoy making the music that you've got today.

Tony: How far do you think you can go without the help of a big record company?

Ashley: That's a very good question. The truth is I'm not so sure anymore. In the past I would have said to you the bigger the label you get signed to the better your chances of success, but the industry is changing and I'm beginning to think the small label has as much chance as anyone. Obviously, a major label could give us a huge advance and link us up with top producers but you have to remember that they are purely a business looking for a profit, so if you don't get that for them the likelihood is you'll be dropped before your second release. As a band we are on the look out for a label to take us on but the key is we want someone who is prepared to take some time and help us develop as artists. I think established independent labels are the way forward as they can be more loyal to their artists and because they may only have a handful of bands on their roster you get so much more input. With the internet revolution, these small labels have as much access to the music buying public as any giant company. Costs of putting out a release have never been cheaper with the increasing popularity of mp3 downloads, because there's no need to produce a physical CD, buy all the packaging, spend all the cash on distribution, etc. This can all now be spent on promoting the artist.

We have just set up our own label and we're using this to release our music over the internet. We really wanted as many people to be able to listen to our music as possible, that's why we decided to release a series of singles for free download before releasing an album that can be bought. Ultimately, we'd like a publisher or label to take us on but rather than wait around we wanted to get going ourselves! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


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