An Interview With The Austin-Based Rock Group FOREVER STARTS TODAY!
Posted On 02 Aug 2017
Originating from Austin, TX, the female-fronted power pop/punk outfit Forever Starts Today consisting of Christina Murphy (Lead Vocals), Nathan Dunn (Guitar & Vocals), Troy Hirschhorn (Guitar), Kyle Salaga (Bass), and Nicholas Turner (Drums), sprinkle messages of hope, positivity, and discovery throughout their lyrics. The band’s message, “Your Forever Starts Today, and the possibilities are LIMITLESS” which continues to push their theme that “no matter where you’ve come from or where you are in this moment, you can obtain any kind of future as long as you work hard and take action.” While their music exudes positive vibes, it wasn’t always that way for lead singer, Christina Murphy.
Before embarking in music, Murphy had a close career in professional Motocross Racing. She first threw her leg over a dirtbike at the age of 12 and it wasn’t love at first ride… it was bruises and blood at first face-plant! After years of going to the dirtbike track with her Dad and brother, she eventually started racing motocross at 15 years old. Year after year she would outgrow each bike and need something faster; faster bikes, faster tracks, bigger races! From 16 – 18, she was traveling across the United States racing with her father and eventually at 18 she was training to compete in her first national, the Ponca City Qualifiers in Oklahoma. While training for the qualifiers at a Motocross camp in Arkansas, Murphy was charging too fast for a jump and over cleared it, causing her to wreck, shattering her pelvis and breaking wrist. She was air lifted in a jet back to Texas for immediate surgery and was confined to a wheelchair for some time. Three months and a miraculous recovery later, she was joyous to be BACK on the bike! While riding a track in Houston, Murphy landed a jump wrong, breaking both of her wrists on impact and was once again sent to the hospital for treatment. The trauma from the injuries and the brutal healing process was treacherous. With the extended down-time she channeled her competitive and creative spirit into what owned the other half of her heart…Music.
Fast forward to this year, Forever Starts Today have now released their debut full length, Always Hope and delightfully signed with Third String Records. The record is a feel good masterpiece about always keeping your head up and never letting anything defeat you. While Murphy has gone through her triumphant highs and terrible lows, the new formulated band line up couldn’t be more perfect for today’s sound. The 5 piece unit tackled writing Always Hope meticulously by starting with the foundation of the song and adding varying arrangements and instrumentation with each member taking their time to fine tune it. Finally when the instrumentation was near completion, Murphy added lyrics to give the track a finishing touch.
For more information, check out FST’s Facebook: @FSTofficial
Learn more about Forever Starts Today in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today? Is there music playing in the background? What music do you all like to listen to when you are relaxing or answering interview questions?
Christina: Right now Forever Starts Today is in the middle of the whirl-wind that is putting out a full length album, filming future music videos and planning a tour to promote the new album, “Always Hope”.
Troy: Most of the time I’m listening to our friends’ bands to be honest. Nominee, DozerTX, Burning Years, Lions and Tigers, among others, are almost always on repeat for me. We are so privileged to have such amazingly talented friends here in Austin.
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? Did you all approach this year differently than you did 2016?
Christina: FST was just getting going in 2016. We had many obstacles while recording our debut EP “LIMITLESS” and it took quite some time to get to the point where we could release it. Once we did (in March 2016), we officially had music out and people started to take us a little more seriously. We approached 2017 with the intention of putting out our first full length record and so far the support we have received for our first single “Optimist” has been incredible. I don’t think any of us expected “Optimist” to get the reaction it did.
Troy: 2016 was a great year for us. We released our first record, we played with some amazing bands from all over the country, and we got to meet so many new people. In my opinion, 2017 has already blown it out of the water though. We have turned dreams into reality this year, and I can’t wait to see what else this year has in store for us!
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together and be a band? Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create?
Christina: I was probably 9 or 10 when I made up the job that I wanted to get paid to photograph Penguins in Antarctica! I saw a photo of penguins on an iceberg once and figured someone got paid to do that for a living and I loved Penguins?! Why not! Once I got a little older and found out there’s no such career as a penguin photographer exclusively located in Antarctica… singing was always the next thing in line! I fell in love with Avril Lavigne when she hit the scene because I was also a tomboy who played with the boys and had high morals and standards for myself. Trade out her signature skateboard for a dirtbike and you’ve got Christina Murphy!
I think our name “Forever Starts Today” truly represents this group and the music we make because we all have wanted to be musicians, but have always had our 9-5 jobs. We chose our name “Forever Starts Today” as a reminder to anyone who listens to us that whatever future or “forever” you want for yourself IS attainable as long as you act on it! I could have stayed in insurance all my life, but why settle if you CAN do exactly what you’ve dreamed as long as you work hard for it and never give up?!
Troy: My mom likes to tell people that from the time I could walk I was climbing up on piano benches and pulling down microphones, so in a sense I guess it has always been a passion of mine. The day I met Christina and Nate, before even trying out for the band, Nate and I ended up spending some time jamming at my place. We clicked instantaneously, and I knew we had the opportunity to do something special.
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of a band they are today. So how has being from Austin influenced you all?
Troy: Going back to the first question, it’s hard to not be constantly inspired and motivated when you have friends like Nominee, DozerTX, and Burning Years. We all push each other to be the best we can be, and having so many mutually beneficial relationships in our music scene is something that I feel separates Austin, TX from every other city in the world.
Christina: Our first EP “LIMITLESS” included some of the very first songs I’d ever written, which came from some of my lighter Pop-Rock influences, such as We Are The In Crowd and old school Avril Lavigne. Austin has a very strong Pop-Punk music scene if you know where to look. Playing in it, with other local bands who I see push their limits every record inspired me to push mine with “Always Hope” and vocally I think it’s very noticeable. In “LIMITLESS” I thought recording was more about sounding perfect and polished and doing everything the right way… with “Always Hope” I wanted to embody the way I’ve watched other male artists in our city sing; with raw, imperfect emotion. Having a female voice, it’s harder to match their level of grit but I wanted to step my game up and I think you can tell a difference vocally between “LIMITLESS” and “Always Hope”.
Let’s talk about your debut full-length album that will be released next month via Third String Records? What was it like putting “Always Hope” together? Did anything surprise you about the entire process?
Troy: For me, the biggest surprise in writing Always Hope was working with our bassist, Kyle. I had met Kyle back in October of 2015, but I hadn’t really gotten to know him until he moved down to Austin the following January to join our band. When it comes to writing music, Kyle and I can practically read the other’s mind, and it has provided for the most organic writing experiences of my life. Three or four times a week for several months, Kyle and I would meet up to grab food and write together. Sometimes we already had a riff or chord progression in mind, but other times we started entirely from scratch. Our new single, “Optimist”, is actually an example of a song that came entirely from scratch one of those days. Most of what we came up with those days in early 2016 is what you will hear on Always Hope.
Christina: Putting “Always Hope” together was a lot of effort. I wish I could say “these songs just poured out flawlessly” but the truth is, I worked on them for hours and hours until I felt they were perfect. I even scrapped all the lyrics to “Alannah” the night before recording the song because I didn’t feel it was absolutely perfect. I am a perfectionist, as many musicians are, and I wanted these songs to have a full sense of emotion. I don’t do anything unless it’s 110%.
Why do you think Third String Records is the right label for you all and your music today?
Troy: Growing up in the DFW metroplex, Third String put together almost every local show I went to. I always fawned over the So What?! Fest lineups and would daydream about playing it one day. Putting my personal experiences aside, Third String Records just makes sense for us. We are purely driven by making music that we hope can connect with our listeners in the way we connect with our favorite bands, and that’s something the Third String Records team holds at their core as well. Mike is so well connected all over the country, and his belief in us is genuine, which is harder to find than you’d think these days. Our beloved manager, Blake Cordeiro, has been working with Third String since he moved to Texas, and when Mike expressed interest in signing us, it just made sense.
Christina: We played a show put on by Third String Productions during SXSW this year and while we were waiting to go on, someone said “Hey! Mike’s paying for drinks tonight for all the bands!” I never drink “on the job” but that offer really stood out to me. In the music industry it’s so easy for newer bands to be taken advantage of… I felt like I had to thank him personally for such a generous offer. I walked over to him, introduced myself and thanked him for such a small but kind deed. Little things like that don’t go unnoticed by me. I think Third String is the right label for us and our music because it’s run by someone who genuinely cares for his artists, people he works with and the bands who work so hard to do what we do everyday, for such little pay. Kindness always goes a long way to me.
What was the inspiration for your already released single, “Optimist”? What was it like making the dramatic music video for it?
Troy: Shooting the music video was one of the cooler experiences of our career so far in my opinion. The final scene of the music video was shot at one of my absolute favorite spots in all of Texas. There were actually a ton of people there when we went to go shoot, and as we got started filming that final scene, people stopped what they were doing and started watching us film. When James fell backwards during the first take of that scene, I heard several people audibly gasp. That’s something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Working with Brandon from Timekeeper Media was an incredible experience as well. He’s immensely talented and an incredible person.
Christina: I wrote “Optimist” for anybody who’s ever felt they were being dragged down a dark hole with somebody else’s problems because you care for them. I myself am a helper, that’s one of the big reasons I do music is to help others. I dated a guy once who I felt I couldn’t break up with because he lead me to believe without me in his life, he would commit suicide. I felt trapped; like his life depended on my unhappiness. I know others have gone through this as well, and it’s a very difficult place to be. It was a very hard lesson to learn but someone else’s happiness should not solely depend on you. That’s something they must find in themselves and your happiness matters too. In Optimist I am rooting for that person to pull through because I DO care and want the best for them. I wanted the end of the music video to cut out right before the viewer finds out if she saves him or not because the truth is, this scenario of constantly helping someone who won’t help themselves can be a never ending circle and how it ends is up to you.
Christina, I am curious to know if you feel like any of your experiences within the Motocross Racing world has helped you within the music business world? Do you ever ride these days?
Christina: I definitely think racing motocross has given me the courage to do things others may be afraid to do in the music world, primarily with our live performances. I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie and often times when FST is on stage, I’ll look for any way to capture the audience’s attention at a venue. I’ll climb on PA’s while singing, I’ll jump on tables, climb rafters in the ceiling, anything that will make people stop what they’re doing, point and say “WOAH!” Whatever it takes! If FST is playing a show, I make it my goal to have every single person in that venue notice us.
What are your plans for this summer? Any tour dates scheduled so far? What do you think makes a perfect show for you and Forever Starts Today? Can you recall a favorite show in the past?
Troy: Right now our focus this summer is preparing for the release of Always Hope. We have a few shows booked so far, but there’s a lot of preparation in the works right now. That being said, we are going on a 10-day tour that takes us out to Las Vegas and back at the end of August, so make sure to keep an eye out for those tour dates! My personal favorite show so far was our release show for our EP, Limitless. A lot of our families came out, and it was amazing getting to share the stage with some of our favorite bands and best friends here in Austin. The show itself was absolutely crazy as well.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
Troy: Outside of our music scene here in Austin, my earliest pop punk influences are Green Day and blink-182, and they are still some of my favorite bands. I’m also really into State Champs, Neck Deep, and A Day To Remember. In terms of who I would love to work with, first and foremost I want to say that it is an absolute honor to be able to work with our amazing producer and good friend Joseph Milligan from Anberlin. Working with any of the guys in the Green Day, blink-182, State Champs, Neck Deep, or ADTR camps would be a dream come true for me. Guys like Rob Cavallo and John Feldmann are legends in the genre. Kyle Black would be amazing as well.
Christina: I absolutely love female fronted rock bands. I’m all about girl power! I would love to work with Pvris, Against The Current, Paramore, Tonight Alive or Sainte.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Troy: This will be more prevalent on Always Hope than our previous release, but we hope that the people who give our band a chance take away a sense of belonging and that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. Life is going to happen, but you can push through and accomplish whatever it is that you set your mind to. You might lose a friend or a loved one. You might lose the person you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with. You might also make friends or receive an opportunity that will change your life for the better. This is the fuel that our band runs on. We have encountered obstacle after obstacle, both personally and as a band, and instead of giving in, we push harder because this is what we love. We love making music, and if we write one song that helps one person feel like they aren’t alone in the world with what they are going through, we have accomplished what we set out to do.
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
Christina: This is a great question because starting out I always wished someone would guide me in the direction I needed to go but had nobody like that! I had to figure everything out on my own through trial & error and it took a long time… If you want to be a musician, learn an instrument and start playing covers or originals in Open Mic nights or anywhere you can! Network and make as many friends as possible in those places. Just introduce yourself to everybody. Doing this you will meet more and more people who will eventually open the door to more opportunities to do what you want with music.
Troy: I’m going to address an element of being in a band that I feel often gets overlooked. If you really want to be at the level your favorite bands are at, you need to carry yourself the way your favorite bands carry themselves. It’s as much a job as it is a passion, and if you don’t take yourself seriously, neither will the people you work with. Being nice, respectful, and working hard will go a long way. Know your worth because there are people out there that will try to take advantage of you, but also remember where you came from.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves or your music?
Troy: We just want to say thank you to everybody who has given our band a chance. Playing in this band is an incredible privilege that will never be taken for granted, and we hope that you enjoy our new record, Always Hope. It’s available for pre-order on iTunes for only $5.99, and be on the lookout for our upcoming singles and tour dates. We might just be coming to a city near you!