My first stop after settling in Manhattan yesterday was Brooklyn Bowl, the venue/bowling alley with maybe the finest fried chicken around. Fried chicken isn’t what brought me there though, Futurebirds did. The Athens, GA based band is on a “Holiday Road Tour” with another Athens band, grass giraffes, and I was fortunate enough to meet up with Carter King (vocals, guitar, banjo, drums, vox) before the show to swap some words and get a better idea of what makes one of the hottest up and comers out there tick.
As I was walking up to the venue I couldn’t help but notice parts of the Futurebirds (there are six of them) hanging outside of their van with a smashed in rear window. Moments before, the band were the unsuspecting victims of a robbery that could have been much worse had they not walked up as the offense was being committed. Unfortunately the criminal got away with Peyton Bradford’s backpack that contained clothes and the iPod the band uses on the road. Peyton was optimistic though, he later told me “There was nothing in there that can’t be replaced with a trip to the thrift store and Wal-Mart.”
Futurebirds have a serious stage presence. Six guys in their 20 something’s putting every ounce of their being into the task at hand, which, for them, is rocking out country tinged, reverb laden, distorted tunes at maximum levels. It’s incredibly apparent they’re having the time of their lives, thrashing about the stage in a way that makes you wonder how there haven’t been serious injuries.
The band has one full length that came out in 2010, Hamptons Lullaby, and two EP’s, a self titled and Via Flamina. Last night we heard the majority of their official releases as well as a new tune. By listening to the lineage of their albums it’s obvious they’re growing as a band and reaching new sounds while maintaining the sonic identity they forged on their first release, Hamptons Lullaby. Not an easy task.
The show was excellent. High energy, great sound; you want to watch them play music. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city they’ll be visiting on the tail end of their “Holiday Road Tour” go check them out (that means you Chicago!), it’ll be one of the better nights of music you’ve seen in some time.
Head to their Facebook page to download the track "Nearsayerfive."
Read The Steam Engine interview with Carter King below, a truly genuine human being:
The Steam Engine: Right now you're on a "Holiday Road Tour" with Grass Giraffes, around ten dates. How's the tour going?
Carter King: Yeah, yeah, not too long of a tour, making a little a little Christmas money, buy Mom & Poppa something nice (laughs).
TSE: How have the shows been going, have you guys been getting good reception?
CK: Yeah man, it’s been really awesome. Grass Giraffes, they’re from Athens and friends of ours. There kind of just getting going as a band and they’re AMAZING. Catchiest damn songs, they’re awesome. One of their songs has been stuck in my head all day, I can’t get it out, you’d think it’s a Lady Gaga song or something.
TSE: Let's talk about Athens. REM, WSP, Dead Confederate, Futurebirds - what is it about the area that it can pump out so many killer bands over so many genres?
CK: Athens is just an awesome little enigma of a town. It’s a small Southern town but it’s also got the University there which brings a lot of college kids so you’ve got every walk of life from rednecks to hippy kids to frat guys to you know, whatever, but it’s not so much like a separated, segmented type thing. Everything is right there on top of each other because it is so small, it’s just an awesome little melting pot of just all kinds of communities I guess, all in one.
TSE: You guys have been nonstop since 2010. 1 LP, 2 EP's, countless shows, how do you keep yourselves and your voices fresh on the road?
CK: Uh, we don’t (laughs), you sticking around tonight? A Monday show after the weekend, you’ll see the worst of it. I mean, I don’t know, usually if our voices are going we just play the faster, louder songs that don’t require all the harmonizing and just keep after it, you just do what you can you know? We’ve been trying to go as hard as we can and get ourselves out there. For a band like us you know we’re not tween, sexy looking kids or something so we just have to tour tour and tour and just get in front of people and say “Shit, here’s what we got if you like it.”
TSE: When I think Futurebirds Chris Isaak doesn't come to mind but you guys nailed "Wicked Game" on your EP Via Flamina. How did you choose to cover that song?
CK: (Laughs) I don’t know. We were playing somewhere, I think it was Aspen, we played this room. We were on this tour with Dead Confederate and there was this big old picture of Chris Isaak on the wall, we were kind of joking around and you know, we do a lot of instrument switching and stuff so there’s a lot of time between songs and I was kind of sitting backstage and I just sort of figured out that (hums riff) and yeah I was just kind of talking to Payton (Payton Bradford – Drums, guitar, banjo, vox) and I was like “I’m gonna break into Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” in the middle of the set, just for a little bit, you know? Kind of jammed it and everyone just jumped in on it, it’s a real easy song, it’s 3 chords the whole time, and we’re like “Yeah, we should actually learn the words to that song” Yeah, we ended up doing it, just screwing around in the studio one time and it ended up on one of those EP’s (Via Flamina).
We had this great idea for a video, me and Payton, the drummer, were going to do a shot for shot remake of the music video where they’re rolling around on the beach but we figured it’d scare too many children so we opted not to that.
TSE: What does 2012 have in store for Futurebirds?
CK: We’ve been working on a new full length, I think the plan is to finish that up in January or February. Keep touring really hard. We’ve still got our options open and we’re talking about a few different things about how exactly we’re putting out that record because we want it to be…explosive. We kind of just slipped on the radar so, yeah, we’re going to do a lot of touring, hopefully get on some cool festivals and just play, play, play, play, play.
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