Long-term collaborators Rachel Duncan & Rosie Swayne – aka FOSSILHEADS – have spent the past year or so honing their eco-conscious folk show to a fine art. Now you can hear how it sounds on record! New Boots is impressed enough with the Northants duo to get more answers. And here they are!
How did you get FOSSILHEADS together?
Rosie: We’ve only been performing together as FOSSILHEADS for less than a year. Although Rachel and I are also part of olden Northamptonian quartet Invocal, and have been singing together for 24 years [which takes us back to four years before we were born, if our press ages are to be believed].
Rachel: I thought I’d managed to escape her, to be honest…
How would you describe your sound?
Rosie: We are a folky, theatrical duo and use political satire/comedy in songs to open up issues surrounding the HILARIOUS climate crisis.
We admire your interests: “Smashing global corporate power, saving humanity, jazz hands”. The holy trinity, you might say. So do you find music is the best medium to get the message across – serious subjects given the light touch?
Rosie: Until recently I found much of the discourse surrounding climate change so broad and clichéd that it doesn’t really engage people or genuinely address the main problems – my hope is that that honing in on specific areas in an informed but [hopefully] entertaining style can help communicate ideas/info/perspectives in a way that doesn’t make people want to immediately leave. Though to be fair, people do still sometimes immediately leave. But hey we’re used to that, we’ve always been kinda niche.
Rachel: I was recently told by someone who had just heard us for the first time that whilst he felt he was “eco-naïve” and never really thought about the environment, that our music really made him think. That is a massive compliment, and if we can do even just a little bit to raise awareness and tackle the current crisis then it makes it all worthwhile.
Tell us everything about ‘The Future Is Petrifying’ EP.
Rosie: What I love about the EP is that it represents exactly what we do on stage, as it was recorded live – at Fitdog Studios – with just two vocals and one guitar. It’s a precursor to a fuller production studio album that we’ll start doing once someone throws an eccentric amount of money at us to do so. You can buy the four song EP via www.fossilheads.co.uk. It’s download only, to save on production / packaging and costs just £3 [although there IS the option to throw an eccentric amount of money at us if you are inclined to do so].
Rachel: It was really great to get back into the studio with Chris at Fitdog Studios – our last recording session with him as Invocal was probably about 10 years ago (clearly making us only 10 years old at the time, if our press ages are to be believed). I was nervous at first because our live show uses visual humour as well as the comedy from the lyrics [we do acting, darling] so I was unsure if we could really do it justice on an EP – but I am really pleased with it! I think that recording the songs live has kept our “characterisations” intact. The songs themselves cover themes from plastics to corporate greenwashing, and are really well researched by Rosie, who is our resident “eco-expert.” Personally I’m still plucking up the courage to buy a [second hand, previously owned, locally sourced] Naomi Klein book…
With Extinction Rebellion now very much centre stage in the nation’s consciousness it must be exciting to see so many people sharing many of your goals. Have you found more acceptance in what you do over your time together?
Rosie: Yes it is very heartening and inspiring to see more people taking serious action, and I do believe more people are prepared to sit through a set of songs about climate change than they would have been a few years ago!
Rachel: We have many friends in XR and support our local groups when we can. I recently headed to London for the climate protest – but couldn’t stay long, so I admire their commitment to the cause. Their messages really resonate with me. As celebrities have pointed out recently, we are all hypocrites to some degree. It has to be about doing what we can individually but pressuring governments to make substantial, systematic changes.
What are your live shows like? We suspect/hope those witty words hit home…
Rosie: We’ve had some very emotional and meaningful feedback after shows, it’s been quite an experience getting the songs working successfully to audiences – and it’s amazing to realise the songs are having a genuine impact on people. The show does have the potential to tank though. If an audience aren’t in the mood to sit and listen to lyrics, we don’t really work as ‘background music’ – if there’s a room full of people chatting we just end up looking like your bizarre middle-aged aunties determinedly acting/squawking out a musical you’ve never heard of to nobody in particular.
Are you part of a music scene in Northamptonshire? Any favourite acts/venues?
Rosie: I love the music scene in Northampton; gonna namecheck Kings Gambit, musical home of our beloved Invocal pal Helen – been so great to hear their sound evolve over the years.
Rachel: We’ve played at The Lab many times over the years – and it really is a great and supportive venue – long may it continue. I’ve also more recently been made aware of the number of really great open mic nights in and around the county. Northamptonshire really has so much talent and passion for music, I feel lucky to live here.
What has been your favourite Fossilheads moment of the past year?
Rosie: So much work went on at home before getting our live act up-and-running, so I guess the weekend we played four gigs at two of our favourite festivals was pretty gratifying – in feeling like we were properly out there and gigging again.
Rachel: We’ve had some truly humbling moments over the summer doing festivals – people approaching us after gigs with so many compliments and heartfelt responses. For me however it was when a guy from a well-known band [not to be named] came up to us after our set and said he thought we were the best band on the festival circuit this summer. I’m not sure I agree, as we have been privileged to hear some amazing music this summer, but what a fabulous accolade!
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Rosie: The Sacrament of Sin by Powerwolf. I didn’t even realise I was ready to Come Out publicly as a fantasy metal fan, but there it is.
Rachel: Loving Linnea Olsson at the moment. Her album Breaking and Shaking is great and ‘What’ is currently a favourite song of hers for me. Probably best not to take musical recommendations from me though: recent music streaming has included Pitch Perfect 2, And Bros.
What is your burning desire to do in the near future? What plans do you have?
Rosie: Play more gigs, save planet, get chips on the way home.
The Future Is Petrifying is out now via BandCamp.