Future Islands is one of those few bands whose bizarre name is actually very indicative of the kind of music they create. The group has become known for their unique post-wave synthpop sound, centralized around the haunting vocals of Samuel T. Herring, that makes you feel as though you’re stuck on a cold and deserted island filled with alien technology. Getting their start in North Carolina as fellow art majors at East Carolina University, Future Islands ultimately moved to Baltimore to become regulars of the indie community there. However, for their recently-released album On the Water, the band made a pilgrimage back to their roots both physically and musically. To tell us about this voyage back in time, vocalist Samuel T. Herring and guitarist/bassist William Cashion took some time to take us inside their creative process and how they were able to incorporate outside elements into their latest work.
OS: You’ve described On the Water to be a concept album about “two parallel journeys”one physical and one psychological”. Does this tie into your own experience as a band or as writers?
SH: Well the concept came secondary to the writing and recording of the songs, a definite afterthought in finding the common thread that tied the songs together to form the album. I do believe in those parallel journeys, however, in that this album moves us through a landscape while also on a journey for something internal from that external change. It definitely ties into my personal experience. Those songs are of my life, and my own questions and hopeful answers. I think it’s pretty indicative of our writing process too, creating first and finding the meanings later. Instead of over-thinking, and putting process before inspiration. The journey is inherent.
OS: The opening track starts off with ambient sounds”is this intended to set the mood for the entire album? Where did those sounds come from?
WC: I have a fancy little hand-held digital recorder, and one night Chester and I went “sound hunting” around Elizabeth City. The sounds at the beginning of the record were recorded across the street on the docks.
SH: We all had those recordings in mind and set aside for that purpose. It may seem redundant for some, but for anyone that grew up near the water or had a dock close to home that they would walk down to, it’s an essential form of nostalgia that sets the tone for the album.
Only two days after its release, Eric Church‘s new single “Homeboy” isn’t his anymore.
That might seem odd since Eric carefully birthed the February 15th release right from the nugget of an idea to fruition, but he feels strongly about his attitude.
“Once they’re released, they aren’t mine anymore,” said Eric just before leaving Nashville for the latest leg of his concert tour. “It’s really weird because of the way I wrote the songs and recorded them, but once people hear them they belong to those people. It’s almost like the songs are kids.”
That’s likely even truer now for Eric than it was for past songs. When the time came for Eric to begin to write his upcoming album, he rented a cabin in a secluded part of North Carolina. Then he spent several months in seclusion developing ideas and writing songs. “Homeboy” is the first song from the album Eric hopes to release later this year.
“When I went up there, I got a fairly good handle on it,” said Church of writing the songs for his album. “It takes me a while for the songs to start telling me what they’re about. It’s a very intriguing process.”
Even those in Eric’s inner circle often have to wait until Eric is comfortable with a song to let them hear it. He doesn’t do demos anymore, he said, instead letting the cuts speak basically stand on their own.
Now out on tour”both headlining and sharing bills with Jason Aldean and Toby Keith”it’s clear that Eric’s style works well for him. Even though this leg of his concerts is just underway, fans are as rampant as they were when they forced last year’s Country Throwdown organizers to move him from the Outlaw stage to the Main stage.
“Our fans are just great,” said Church. “They are always right there, pulling [other fans] up out of their chairs.”
That’s especially true now that Church is nominated for the Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Solo Vocalist. In his competition against Easton Corbin and Randy Houser for the award, Church released a video “Everyone Is Doing It,” that features a host of people in different settings talking about voting for the awards or, in the video’s vernacular “doing it.”
Although Eric said he laughed out loud when he watched the video” that also features a guest appearance by Luke Bryan, who last year received ACM’s Top New Artist award”he said his main goal with music isn’t to win such award.
“I just want to make an epic record,” said Eric. “That’s what making music is all about.”
Watch Eric’s ‘Everyone Is Doing It’ video here
Eric is on tour. His next scheduled concert is February 24th in Florence, SC with Jason Aldean. For a complete list of concert dates and locales, check here.
In June, the first batch of winners for the “Shout It Out With HANSON” Competition earned coveted spots opening for the pop trio on July and August dates of their summer Shout It Out tour. We reached out to winners Delta Rae, Brightside Drive and Jeffrey James after their sets to hear about their experiences and are happy to share their stories with you.
Sayreville, NJ winners Brightside Drive opened for HANSON at the Starland Ballroom. The band played to a receptive crowd, selling numerous copies of their CD and picking up new fans on Facebook. They explained, “Opening for HANSON was such a great experience. All the fans that came out were so great (even after waiting in the line for hours) and it was awesome performing for all of them. I think at one point even HANSON was watching us which was surreal! The publicity from playing the show was huge! Our fan base has definitely expanded. So many people wanted copies of our CD, Transitions. Plus many other fans headed over to our Facebook page to talk to us, get to learn more about us, and become our friend!”
Nashville winner Jeffrey James played to a sold out crowd at their set at the Wild Horse Saloon. The band told us, “We played to a few thousand people. HANSON’s fans were very receptive to us. They seemed to enjoy the set a lot and I got many many great comments from the fans after we were done. As well, when I got home that night my Twitter followers had almost doubled.” Jeffrey James and his band amped up their performance for the large audience and received warm responses to their new material. “My band and I knew that we had to take our energy levels up a couple notches to play to a crowd that size. As the opening act, we had to win over an audience who, for the most part, had never seen us play. We may be recording a new song that we played at the show that got an amazing response.”
North Carolina natives Delta Rae drove 11 hours from New York to Asheville, NC to play their opening slot at the Orange Peel. Little did they know, HANSON would be interviewing THEM upon arrival. The band said, “We were lucky enough to do a live interview with HANSON right before the show, and have gotten a lot of great attention from that. Part of the interview is performing a few acoustic songs for the Hanson bros, after which Isaac Hanson generously said, ‘Wow, I think we should be opening for them.’ Couldn’t have been nicer guys.”
Jetson Black (badass name and 100% real) may sound pretty aloof when he sings, but make no mistake, there’s serious fire beneath the surface. As guitarist and lead vocalist for the Asheville, NC, band The Black Rabbits, Black delivers tightly wound vintage rock fueled by unrequited emotion. His brother, Skyler Black, keeps it rock steady behind the kit, while bassist Natalie Smallish and organist Kim Drake add feathery vocals to smooth out the rough edges. Hurry Hurry is a dark little rocker brimming with swag. Guitars strut and drums stomp as the urgency mounts. For Way Too Long Now feels more morose, with female backup acting as treacle to Black’s pent-up anxiety. For a break in the tension, skip to Emotion, a kinetic, retro rock juggernaut complete with purring guitars, twinkling keys, handclaps and tambourines. One part Julian Casablancas, one part Jack White, Black hovers between unflappable cool and manic frenzy. Like a train that chugs along and suddenly threatens to go off the tracks, The Black Rabbits brooding, theatrical garage rock makes for an exciting ride.