An Interview With The Alt-Pop Group, FOREIGN FIGURES On Their Latest Music and Growth In The Last Few Years!
Posted On 12 Oct 2016
Foreign Figures are a powerfully anthemic and emotionally driven alt-pop outfit from Orem, Utah. They formed in July 2014 among the talents of Eric Michels (vocals), Jonny Tanner (Guitar), Seth Dunshee (Bass) and Steve Michels (Drums), and has since amassed a fast growing and intensely loyal following.
The band issued their debut EP, “Come Alive” in early 2015, which saw downloads in over 25 different countries and led to licensing deals with TVLand, TuneCore, and Fox Sports. Their debut LP, “Paradigm” was released on April 1 2016, followed by extensive regional and national touring, sharing the stage with the likes of X Ambassadors, American Authors and Smallpools.
Learn more about Foreign Figures in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that we are entering the fall of 2016, what are some words you would use to describe this year? What have been some of the highlights for the band?
Seth: Thanks for having us! As far as 2016, I would describe it as…busy. And fun. We are at a point where we are growing organically outside of our regional fanbase, and we definitely want to keep up with it. The highlights this year were probably opening up for some national acts like American Authors and X Ambassadors, and of course the release of our album Paradigm.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall your earliest musical memories?
Seth: I know for me, it’s listening to Michael Jackson with my Mom when I was a kid and just being so mesmerized by his songs. I think all of us started with piano lessons, and it branched out from there. I think we all knew we loved music from an early age, and we all knew it would play a role in our lives, but it wasn’t until the past two years that we realized we wouldn’t be fully happy if we weren’t doing music full time. Which is why we decided to take Foreign Figures on as our career, which, without a label offering success, was a tough decision to make. But we couldn’t be happier.
How did Foreign Figures first come together? How did you come up with your band name?
Jonny: Steve and Eric have literally known each other from the womb. The watered-down version of this story is that our forces were joined through a mutual friend. FF wasn’t going to be a career pursuit in the beginning, but we couldn’t easily overlook the fast, organic growth we had in the beginning. Foreign Figures’ name was birthed in a group chat as we were spitting out literally anything that came to us. Hundreds of names. I believe Eric threw out FF, and we passed it. Later, we realized we loved that name for many different reasons – every member literally has their own personal definition – so we invite our fans to do the same. What does Foreign Figures mean to you..?
What’s it like having two brothers in the group? Do you two get along better now being in a band together? What’s the silliest thing you two have argued about since forming this group?
Eric: It started with just the two of us as an acoustic duo. We have been through a lot together, which has brought us a lot closer, so naturally I love having my brother in the band. I don’t know if I could do it without him. He gets my weird personality and can explain to others what is going on. We hardly ever argue. On the contrary, my brother has helped me get better at getting along with the other guys. The silliest thing we fight about is when my brother Steve gets mad at me when I am not paying attention and specifically not looking him in the eyes when he is talking. I can multitask.
Steve: Honestly, I love that my little brother is in this band with me. Sharing this experience with blood relation is very special. Eric and I grew up as best friends, and we have always been close. Being together literally every single day writing music, rehearsing, traveling, and playing shows are just a few aspects of this journey we are taking and I truly enjoy that my little bro is along for the ride with me. We have always gotten along well so I’d say it’s about the same since we have been in Foreign Figures. The silliest thing we’ve probably argued about is eating each others food. Eric always assumed he can have a bite of whatever it is I’m eating and I’m pretty willing to share, but when he does it day in and day out I have to act like a big brother and get mad at him for it. In turn he gives me a hard time when I try to ask him for a bite of what he is eating. Still learning to share I guess. Haha
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard it before?
Seth: Foreign Figures sound can probably best be described as fusing wide sounding, drum heavy rock anthems with hip-hop rhythms and arena-inspired tones. We like to think that we have a bigger sound that fits within mainstream pop, but that we also write music that has more than one emotion – we want our music to let you feel something.
Foreign Figure’s Coldplay Medley:
I’d love to know more about your Coldplay medley. Are you big fans of Coldplay? What was it like putting that video together?
Eric: I definitely am a huge Coldplay fan. I got the other guys into them after bringing up their music over and over again in practice. Some of the guys weren’t into Coldplay from the beginning, but now I can confidently say we are all fans. The medley came together really fast. Our creative director, Lance, came up with the idea. I arranged the seven songs together on the piano, and then the whole band went into the studio and wrote all their instrumental parts. When the final recording was done we headed out to film the music video on the same exact day. The whole process took 48 hours. My brains were a little fried by the time we were finished.
This year, you released your debut album, “Paradigm.” What was it like finally putting it out into the world? What was the inspiration for this collection?
Steve: Putting out this album was extremely exciting. I don’t think we’ve ever worked this hard in our lives. Writing, recording and then rehearsing our live show for this album took many hours, late nights and even tears to get to where we are at. I feel like Paradigm really portrays that struggle and speaks to the battle we experience in creating this music. Our inspiration was that battle we experience during the creation of Paradigm, a battle both of physical exsurtion
How is “Paradigm” different then your debut EP, “Come Alive” released early last year?
Jonny: Paradigm is all about the struggle that we went through personally and collectively to make music full-time. The lyrics, the instrumentation, the melodies, the rhythm – even the engineering – is all in homage to that battle, because it was, and is, truly a fight. These songs are so real to us, and they represent a milestone in our lives. Fortunately, that message has translated over for so many people thus far. It’s such a rewarding feeling hearing a variety of people’s thoughts and stories about how they connect with the songs in different ways. How humbling to know that something we made has had such a diverse reach and attraction. We all learned so much from Come Alive. Those first songs were so important to our development and really sparked the fire to keep pushing down this path. There isn’t much cohesiveness to the songs – we literally wrote 6 songs, recorded them, and released them haha. But we’re so grateful for the things we learned from those songs.
You’ve done some extensive touring with all kinds of bands like X Ambassadors, American Authors and Smallpools. What has been the most memorable touring experience for you guys?
Seth: I think just watching the progress of the band, honestly. In two years, we have gone from barely getting our family to come to our shows to being able to playing to thousands of people. Specifically though, its the fun, goofy moments on the road that have been most memorable. We’re best friends, and we love being on tour.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
Eric: As a band we listen to all sorts of music, and we each connect with different genres. I draw inspiration from bands such as U2, Journey, OneRepublic, and Nothing But Thieves. I love all the vocalists in those bands, and their songwriting is captivating. I grew up listening to Earth Wind and Fire, Nat King Cole, and Michael Jackson, etc… My mom always had me singing and dancing to their tunes. In the future I would love to work with Adele. I think she is fantastic. It would be cool to do a Foreign Figures collab with her.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
Jonny: One of the hallmarks of FF is that we’re all so different.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Seth: Be sure to check out our album, “Paradigm” on iTunes and Spotify, and be on the lookout for our tour calendar. We also have a new music video for our song “Force of Nature” that will be out later this year.
Foreign Figures Online: