Future Islands are hot right now and with good reason. Pitchfork just named their new single “Balance” Best New Track, Marc Jacobs tweets about them, and they just dropped their new album “On the Water” on October 11th. “On the Water” sounds as fresh and exciting as anything you’re likely to hear this year. Future Islands have an impossible to define sound that is textured and full of emotion that we just can’t get enough.
Their vocalist Samuel Herring has currently become one of the most distinctive singers who’s full throated vocals and lyrics can make you cry, comfort you, or even frighten you at times.
We spoke with Samuel to find learn a little bit more about Future Islands.
What’s the story behind Future Islands? How did you all meet and form the band?
Well, Gerrit and I grew up together. I met William first day of college and I introduced him to Gerrit. William and I started trading ideas, artistically and musically, and started a band with Gerrit and a couple other friends, Adam Beeby and Kymia Nawabi. When that band folded(Feb. 2003-Dec. 2005) we started Future Islands with our friend Erick Murillo, as a four-piece(Jan. 2006). When Erick left we started writing as a three-piece. It’s been about three and a half years now as a three piece, but we’ve been doing it for almost nine years now.
Can you tell us a little about your new album “On the Water?” How has your music evolved from your past albums?
“On The Water” is a different album than we’ve done before, I mean, all the albums are different, but it’s the most complete “album”. We saw ourselves(or heard) writing a bit deeper and slower, when we began writing songs for this album. We knew that it was gonna be that kind of feeling, and it was curious to us, but we didn’t want to fight it. That curious feeling, centered around wondering if our fans would be into this new group of songs. But you can’t question that too much as an artist. You have to be confident in yourself and trust that as the only truth. If you’re making music or art that you believe in then you can’t go wrong. You have to be honest with your fans and let them decide for themselves too. It’s definitely a slow reflective work. It’s not about any one song, it’s about the whole work. We continue to learn from doing and that’s probably the most profound evolution. Hopefully we can continue to grow and learn as we continue to create.
Your lyrics seems to be very emotional with a balance of light and dark energy that runs through it all. Can you talk about this creative process? Is there a songwriter or is it a collaborative effort?
William and Gerrit write the music and I write the words. Songs come about in different ways but oftentimes it’s just the three of us in a room, the guys playing and me writing to myself. When we hit on something good, we keep cycling that and work from there.
Writing, for me, really just comes from where the music takes me. The guys inspire me with sounds and I feel from there. The stories are from my life, or from a deeper place that the music helps me to touch or understand. Pretty simple style, actually.
What are some of the current bands you are listening to and admire?
My friends Black Vatican put out a record this year that I’m repping really hard for, it’s called “Oceanic Feelin'”. Our buddies Javelin are always doing amazing things. There are a lot of great Baltimore bands that are friends and inspire us. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, our tourmates, are dropping a record early next year that’s going to blow minds. Our friend Dan Deacon is working on a new album right now too. So much stuff, I forget…
William Cashion: Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of old krautrock stuff… Cluster, Michael Rother, La Dusseldorf, and Popol Vuh. Also a lot of Brian Eno’s work – collaborations, ambient, pop records, all of it.
You guys have a reputation of putting on entertaining and high energy shows. Any memorable or funny stories you can share with us that happened while on tour?
I have split my pants a couple times this year, going a bit too hard. That’s always a little funny, and a lot embarrassing. I tend to not wear underwear so….bare-assing may be the better term.
You have played throughout Europe and are about to go on tour in the US, any chance of a South American tour in future?
Sign us up! We’d love to see South America. We got to travel to Sao Paolo recently and had a blast. That’s the best part of this, getting to see the world.