Rosemary Scott | Culture Editor Jun 18, 2017 Updated Jun 23, 2017
Since 2009, Futurebirds has been playing music together and making its mark in the Athens community. Eight years later, the band has now become a staple in the local music scene, so much so that it will headline Athfest this weekend.
The Red and Black spoke with Carter King of Futurebirds about his humble beginnings, life on tour and presence in the Athens music scene. Futurebirds will play Athfest this Friday at 9 p.m. on the main stage.
How did Futurebirds get started?
By the good grace of the Athens gods. A few of us buddies were hanging around, drinking, and we didn’t even realize that we all played music. Eventually, we were all playing in each others’ bands, and we had five or six bands simultaneously. Futurebirds just kinda ended up sticking—it was a meshing of all our other bands.
When you first started, did you think you’d get this far?
I didn’t think about it one time. I can honestly say I never thought about it. It felt good, and we were chasing it, and certainly there was no decision that this is what we were going to do. We just decided we liked it, and we’ve been making music ever since.
What is your favorite Athens venue?
I love them all for different reasons. Our first big opening show was at Tasty World, and playing the 40 watt with Sleater Kinney was always my goal. I thought anything after that was icing. When we first started playing shows, the Georgia Theatre had just burned down. When the Theatre came back, it was a magnificent place, and all our friends were running it, so it became a home as well. Also, one of the best Halloween shows we ever played was at Caledonia Lounge.
When you’re not playing music, what do you do?
We’re all hustling when we need to be. Everyone has things to fill their time. I’m going canoeing next week, so I’m pretty excited about that.
How do you think Athens has contributed to your success?
It’s hard to say, because we don’t know any other way to come up as a band except for Athens, and it’s unlike any other place we’ve been. We’ve been to a lot of college towns, and it’s the perfect mix of strong, artistic, creative culture, forged by the giants that came out of it. That drew a lot of creative young people to come here, but it’s also a small enough town to where it’s all different kinds of people coexisting in the same place.There’s a great community.
What is the best and worst thing about touring?
My favorite thing about touring is the spontaneity and the situations you’ll find yourself in. Like on a random Wednesday, when you have off go across the country, you’ll meet great people who will show you a bunch of cool things. The experiences are unlike any other. That being said, you’re away from home and the people you love, and sometimes on that same random Wednesday you’re sitting in a shotty hotel room thinking you’d rather be home. You try to stay open to the good, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
How did you get started playing music?
I started playing trumpet in third grade and eventually, I talked my mom into buying a Sam’s club Telecaster. I learned how to play tabs and taught myself. In middle school, I figured out how to record on a computer, and me and a few buddies figured out how to record stuff. In high school, we put together a band for a talent show or field day or something like that. The style of the band would change based on what we played. We went from rock to bluegrass during that time.
What can the audience expect from your show?
A good damn time, and a high energy show. We like to put on a rock ‘n roll show. Not all of our music is necessarily suited for that, but that’s how it turns out when we play it live. We like everyone to have a good time.
How do you feel about headlining?
I’m so excited. We find a reason to come to Athfest every year, even if we’re not playing. It’s one of the best times to be in Athens.—it’s Christmas in summertime. It’s always a reunion of all our favorite people and bands. Usually my face hurts from smiling so much. Getting to headline is a high honor for us.
Tell me about your writing process. Who does what?
It happens a lot of different ways. We have three or four writers in the band, and everyone starts off writing individually and then we bring stuff to the table. Sometimes it’s really fleshed out with all the parts, and sometimes we might have a verse and a chorus that don’t even go together. When we all lived in the same place, we did more community jamming and writing and stuff like that, but now it’s more individual.
What brought you all to Athens?
I had to figure out somewhere to go to school, and I wanted to be somewhere with cool music. My older brother went there, so I knew Athens was it. [UGA] was the only school I applied to.
Who are your inspirations?
It’s not really a band that will influence us, but more of a song by song basis. It’s a mix of The Grateful Dead, Neil Young and some stuff that sounds like Radiohead and Pavement. It’s a cross of country psychedelia and 90s alternative.
What is your goal as a band?
Our goal is to keep making the best music we can, and to take over the damn world.