“We try not occupy our minds too much with what people are going to think. That’s a rabbit hole you can go down forever and you don’t get your best work out of worrying about what other people think anyway.”
A group of friends come together in a small college town, form a band, write a few songs and land a couple of gigs, thanks to courteous club and venue owners who pride themselves on helping out smaller bands. To the bands convenience, said college town isn’t so small – it also has some pretty big acts that come through it, so the band starts opening up for those said acts, start to get some serious recognition and begin to tour nationally.
Thus, is the Missoula band story – except, this isn’t the story about any band in Missoula, this is the come-up story about FUTUREBIRDS that hail out of Athens, Georgia. The eight year old band has very similar roots to bands coming out of Missoula, MT – they hail from a not-so-explored part of the country, that has it’s own strong culture, and came up in a small college town.
We talked to Carter King, one of the guitarists, songwriters and vocalists of the band. We talked about their new EP Portico, covering Beatles songs and how A River Runs Through It was standard reading in his house, growing up. Check out the full interview below.
If you like _______, _______ and _______ band, then you’ll like The Futurebirds. Can you name off a few bands that people may like that are similar to The Futurebirds?
King – If you like Neil Young, Grateful Dead, and Black Sabbath, then you’ll like coming to a Futurebirds show.
What kind of influence did Athens, GA, being a college town, have on the development of Futurebirds?
King – Athens still manages to play a pretty big role in [the music]. It’s really incalculable how much of a role it has played, but we know it’s immense. It’s where we came up because it’s a really great place to come up as a band – it has a really great scene. It’s a small, vibrant scene, so when you have half a band going on and you have a couple of songs that are alright, the club owners really pride themselves on helping out the younger guys. It’s good enough of a town that it gets national touring acts, so there’s a lot of opening spots you can play. You really get chances to share who you are to a lot of people.
Speaking of Athens, your new album, Portico, was recorded in a church just outside of Athens. Why did you choose to record your next EP there?
King – Portico came into our midst at the perfect time. It’s this big open church on 60 acers of land with a river running through it, canoes on the river we could take out. The whole place was surrounded with really old graves. It was the vibiest, coolest place to get isolated enough that you could focus but there’s still enough stuff to do to distract you so you’re not just on top of each other when you’re trying to be creative.
We have a Portico 2, like a part two to the EP. It’ll be out sometime this year.
So what’s the concept behind Portico?
King – As far what we were going in to do, the intention behind going to The Portico, it wasn’t nearly what the scope that we ended up with. We thought we’d do a couple covers while we’re there and have something to put out, but we ended up flowing and connecting with different stuff we wanted to work on. We chased everything down that everyone was feeling good about and we ended up with nine tracks that were pretty much finished.
Portico 2 has more of an 80’s flair to it, just in that we covered songs that have an 80’s esthetic to them, but not necessary our versions of them. Each track sounded like it’s own piece, so everything we felt good about, we felt that we wanted people to hear it.
The Futurebird’s music video for “Only Here For Your Love”
Speaking of covers, Portico has a cover of the Beatles song “From Me To You” in it.
King – Thomas recorded a version of it that definitely had a different feel to it than the original version. He changed a couple chords in there, so it has that sad, melancholy thing to it. It’s great when it’s normally a poppy, two and a half minute love song by The Beatles – you put a few minor chords in there and all the sudden it’s this really heartbreaking tune. We left it extremely minimal, we didn’t feel like it needed too much of a change.
Were you guys worried that people would be judgmental of taking on a Beatles cover?
King – No, not really. We try not occupy our minds too much with what people are going to think. That’s a rabbit hole you can go down forever and you don’t get your best work out of worrying about what other people think anyway.
As far as we’ve come in this thing, we’ve learned that you’ve gotta do what you’re feeling and trust and doing what you think is right and sounds good. Hopefully everyone else will follow suit.
You don’t want to worry about shit that’s out of your control.
The Futurebirds have been described as having a rough yet polished sound. How do you guys maintain that sound that you’re known for now?
King – We maintain the rough aspect by not being really great singers or really great players. We’re kind of stuck with that side of it. It is what it is – I don’t think we’ll ever have a super tight production record. If we do, you’ll know that we’ve cheated.
We’re just trying to chase what keeps us inspired and keeps us fresh, we’ve been doing this a long time. If you’re going through the motions, not only does it become stale for you, but everyone else can tell that that’s the case. You want to do what’s exciting you to excite other people.
Are there any quotes that have resonated with you throughout your music career?
King – It’s from A River Runs Through It, “The worlds full of assholes – the number increasing rabidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.” I love that book, that was required reading in my house growing up.
Anyhow, we hope to see everyone’s smiling faces. We love going to Missoula, and we’re really looking forward to playing there.
The Futurebirds will be playing at The Top Hat Lounge, April 25th.
For more interviews and photography, check out our blog.
This interview was produced in partnership with Missoula Community Access Television (MCAT).