Interviews

Future Islands Kicks Off European Tour and Chats with PopMatters

Jennifer Brown

Baltimore's Future Islands are embarking on their third European tour. They sat down to talk with PopMatters before their show in Dresden, Germany.

July is a big month for the guys from Future Islands. They just finished a US tour, they released a single for their upcoming album, and they’re currently embarking on their third European tour. The band made a stop in Dresden Friday night. It was the band’s second time playing at Beatpol; their last show was this past fall.

Before a packed crowd and without an ounce of jetlag, Future Islands played a handful of new and old songs, including some unreleased material that will be on their next album due out this fall.

The young German pop band In Golden Tears opened the show. When I went backstage to catch up with Future Islands lead singer Samuel T. Herring, I saw him exchanging stories with the German band, their minds not yet tainted by the overwhelming industry. From watching Herring interact with the emerging band, I immediately noticed how much of a storyteller Herring is. The singer uses the same kind of enthusiasm and magnetic interest during his on-stage performances.

I spoke with Herring and his two bandmates Gerrit Welmers and William Cashion about their crazy schedules, style, and what’s next.

How’s tour been? You guys just had the New York Death By Audio show a couple days ago and now you’re over here... nice to be here again?

It seems like we were just here! It’s pretty crazy. We like this venue a lot.

How many times have you been over here now?

This is our third Euro tour, but fifth time over the pond. We had some smaller UK tours before.

You’ve done a lot of touring in the last few months. You guys had some stuff stolen in Chicago, right?

Yeah, Gerritt’s laptop, and a lot of personal stuff and money too... stinks. Something like that has never happened to us before.

That must have been rough. And you guys have been finishing the new album? How’s that going?

We just finished it! We’re excited and curious. It sounds kind of different... the production has stepped up a lot. As a band and as producers, we all knew what we wanted to do. We learned from past times recording. It’s a warm, the sounds are warm.

So are you guys playing new songs tonight?

Yeah, four or five. Nineteen, maybe!!!!!!

What’s the pre-show drink of the night for you guys?

Samuel: tequila

William: vodka-soda

Gerritt: Budweiser

Do you guys have a favorite European venue? I’m always curious.

The Schokoladen in Berlin. It was the first venue we played when we came here. We also like Point Ephemere. in Paris... it’s right on one of the main rivers. Also, AJZ in Bielefeld, Germany. And not to sound tacky but Beatpol is also really awesome.

Cool. So the “Tin Man” music video seems to be really popular right now... in the US and over here. It’s a beautiful video. Can you talk about it a bit?

It was early March of last year, a couple months before the album came out. We hopped in a van with our friend Jay Buim and his friend Bridgit. It was Jay’s idea to go to some of the spots where we used to hang out back in North Carolina... we revisted a lot of college memories. We basically went down there for three or four days and recorded the surroundings of our hometown... some scenes from the beach. It was where we all met. Gerrit and I went to middle school and high school together. We then met William during the first year of college.

People who aren’t from the area say the video makes them feel nostalgic -- that’s really meaningful. And then those who do know North Carolina and Greenville say they’re affected by it too... so that’s really cool. It’s kind of like it doesn’t matter what the music is, different kinds of people can relate nonetheless.

Do you guys miss North Carolina, now that you’re in Baltimore?

Yes, a lot.

Why did you choose Baltimore?

We had a lot of friends there who were doing cool things. We wanted to be a part of it. And now we are!

Cool. You guys actually played a show recently in my hometown! State College, Pennsylvania. How was it?

It was a good show. We partied at a cool house afterward called Housasaurus. It was a dance party... an awesome jam band played in the basement. We stayed at the Atherton Hotel... nice town.

[Laughs] Good! Yeah, we have too many jam bands in State College. I’m glad you guys had a good time. So lastly, Sam, I wanted to ask you... reviews of Future Islands always seem to mention your live energy and strong stage presence at shows. What inspired you to perform like you do? Were there people in your youth who you saw and thought, “Oh wow, that’s how it’s done.” Or, how did you really evolve into your style?

I guess it came from early experiences. I first think of my older brother who I saw play a couple times. When our first band started, I remember thinking of how my brother performed (his early band was called Method of Attack, and then in college Electronic Rap Machine). This other band called Valient Thorr, who are also from Greenville... the lead man Herbie is a really phenominal frontman. He was a big influence... it was a positive push. He puts out of a lot of energy and when I saw him live, I wanted to do that too.

* * *

To check out the Future Islands tour schedule, visit future-islands.com.

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