Zach Hansen @zach_ehansen | 0 comments
In a Southern city like Athens, cultures collide as the influence of the region clashes with the identity of its individual cities. Local group Futurebirds is a perfect example of this combination of influences, as the now-veteran band combines country music tropes with a weirder, distinct type of indie rock.
The band has made a name for itself with this unmistakable sound, and is coming up on the release of its third studio album, “Hotel Parties,” which will be released Sept. 25.
Futurebirds is set to perform at the Georgia Theatre on the same day as the release, to celebrate the new record in the comfort of its hometown.
The Red & Black spoke with vocalist and guitarist Thomas Johnson about the band’s past, its upcoming album and the tour that will follow the record’s release.
The Red & Black Can you talk about the history of Futurebirds and how you all met?
Thomas Johnson: For the most part we met in Athens. Me, Carter [King] and Danny [Womack] were all in school, and Brannen [Miles] was working at a recording studio at Chase Park. Carter and I both ended up interning there as well. We were all sort of in bands that were either on their last leg or calling it quits, so we just kind of got together and started playing, and we liked playing with each other, so we kept doing it.
And as far as the [band’s] name, Carter came up with it. He was in a poultry science class at [the University of] Georgia, and he said Native Americans used to cut the heads off of chickens and somehow monitor their behavior in the future. So he pieced together Futurebirds from that.
R&B: “Hotel Parties” is going to be Futurebirds’ first album with the Easy Sound Recording Co. label. Why is the band on that label now?
TJ: We had signed a one-record deal for both of the last records, so it’s sort of a similar process where we had the record close to done and just shopped around. They were the [label] we were most comfortable with, and this time we signed a longer deal for a couple of records so hopefully as long as everyone likes each other it’ll be a couple of records.
R&B: How is “Hotel Parties” different from your sophomore album, “Baba Yaga?”
TJ: It’s certainly a lot more concise. The record itself is shorter — only 11 songs. I think it’s just a little tidier and crisper. There’s more urgency to everything, and it’s more focused. I think every record we’ve made has [progressed] that way, and I think we’re paying more attention to how songs begin and end.
R&B: The band is kicking off a nationwide tour the same day the album drops. Why did you choose for those things to happen at the same time?
TJ: Playing our CD release show in Athens is kind of a no-brainer. [The Georgia Theatre concert is] a hometown show where we got our start. The tour just kind of happened. It just worked out that that was the date.
We knew that we wanted the record out in the fall, and we knew we wanted it out before the middle of October, so once we got the [Sept. 25] date booked. It just made sense to release the record that day too.
We took a lot of time off this summer trying to clear some markets and get ready to go out on the road, so it made sense to start the tour there. The tour is bookended by a show in Athens and a show in Atlanta.
R&B: Can you give any type of preview for the show of what fans can expect?
TJ: We’ll play a lot of the new stuff obviously, but we won’t play the new record start to finish. I don’t think we’ve ever been a fan of that, and this record doesn’t really lend itself to that. We’ll definitely play some new songs and throw in a couple of new things that [our fans] haven’t seen before. We’re not going to have some crazy pyrotechnics, but we should have a new look to the stage as well and hopefully create a whole new vibe around the record.