The Brooklyn-Based Alt Band FUTURIST Discuss Their Newest Music, Favorite Bands and More!
Posted On 31 Jul 2019
Colorado-born, Brooklyn-based alt/psych band, Futurist, share “Olive Mountain” in anticipation of their new album, Omens, due out on September 27, 2019. Led by central songwriter, Curtis Peel, the project features psychedelic rock and earnest songwriting, achieving a sound best described as “future-classic.”
By virtue of experimentation, a multimedia vision, and an energetic delivery, Futurist creates a wall of sound that ignites audiences with their own style and modern mythology.“Futurist hearkens to the past with the sounds of strings and colonial drumbeats, but the underlying darkness meshed with sunny demeanor proves they offer enough light to burn.” (The Deli Magazine)
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Learn more about Futurist in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
I’m currently laying low in Austin, TX working on the music video for our second single “Bad Air, Still Water,” which is out August 16.
Now that we are into the 7th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them?
I’d say it’s been reasonably kind to us thus far with LOTS of room to go. Our priorities this year were to release our new record (which is out September 27), some new music videos (one in August and one in October), and really up our touring game. So far we’ve played shows in NYC, Washington D.C., Toronto, Austin, San Antonio, Marfa, Athens, Charlotte, and Charleston. As for those goals, we’re right on track. Over the rest of the year we’re really focused on reaching new ears, college radio, and a tour in the fall that is in the works.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
There isn’t really any special story behind the band’s name, but we named ourselves Futurist shortly after I moved to New York City from Colorado in the summer 2008. Before I had been performing a lot of the same music under my own name when I lived out there for university. It has since become more meaningful though as our sound has evolved to use more new technology in our live sound.
As for the group itself, I am the only original member that is still in the band from the start. Like a lot of bands these days, we’ve notoriously gone through so many musicians given the realities of the DIY growth modern bands face. Joey Campanella, who is my right hand man in all of this, is actually the eight drummer that has performed with Futurist, but when I met him in the summer of 2011, he was definitely the right fit for what I was originally looking for and over time has become a defining aspect of our sound. The other members are either hired guns or long time collaborators. On our upcoming record, Josh Curry (bass) and Robert Sulzer (guitar) have both contributed substantially to the new tunes. As for our summer shows, we have some additional outstanding musicians on the road with us.
What has surprised me? I think just how fluid and persistent you actually have to be with the process in order to stay optimistic. With the transient nature of other musicians coming through the group, I’ve learned to let go of people and the situations out of my control. The ones who want to be involved in the project will make it a priority. The rest is out of my hands and there’s always so much to work on regarding my own abilities.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If not, what do you think does influence this group?
I think it is less about hometowns…although that may have a lot more to do with personal philosophies, but I definitely think we’re influenced by the music we listened to and what we instruments played growing up. Joey, knew so much more funk music than I had ever even heard before and when I met him he exposed me groove/soul oriented bands like Rick James, The Meters, etc. I think I’ve always been intensely lyrically focused, with the music I liked. We definitely overlapped with the alt rock and classic rock influence, which is obvious.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
Definitely. However we’re all kinds scattered around the country right now for various reasons.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming album, “Omens.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
We were actually working on this whole separate album, which is essentially a concept record with this involved story that I wanted to tell through the record, animation, and film…sort of like Pink Floyd’s ’The Wall.’ However, about halfway through that process I realized it was probably inefficient to put all of this work into this project when we really hadn’t done the work to grow a fan-base or call our selves a seasoned touring band. We switched gears mid-project and came up with this idea to make a new record that was more ‘single-focused,’ which is essentially what “Omens” came to be. There are about 5-6 really solid singles that we could work into radio-play, music videos, playlist, etc. and that’s where we are at the moment. ‘Olive Mountain’ is the first of those singles. I enjoyed how much more of a collaborative process this was than our first record, which was essentially myself, my co-producer Dave Brandwein, and hired guns. A lot of the tunes on this record we had been playing together to some degree as a band months before we ever started on our demos prior to the studio time.
How would you say that your already released single “Olive Mountain” prepares listeners for the rest of your album?
Our first record “War Is Yesterday” is much brighter and youthful than “Omens.” “Olive Mountain” is a pretty solid representation of the grit and darkness that has found its way into our sound. I think you can especially tell that in the guitar tones, drums, and vocals of this song.
Generally, how do you guys go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
I’ve typically composed all of the music in the past, but the other guys have contributed heavily to the new record. I foresee us in the future moving more and more towards a collaborative writing process, but for this record, I was mostly working as the conductor of sorts. I’m pretty good at pulling together a bunch of random ideas and forming them into one coherent concept. The other guys would bring something to the table and I would then paste them together with whatever I had been working on, creating something unique that I wouldn’t have necessarily made on my own.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
I love the studio, but I am really much more inexperienced than someone like Joey, who has played and toured in several different bands. Playing live is great, but you want to be in front of people. That’s what we’re working on now. I am definitely inspired by audiences who sing back melodies or interact with the band. That’s the dream.
Where can fans see you perform next? What do you think makes for an ideal show for this group? What has been a favorite show of yours in the past?
As of now we just finished our summer shows that I listed above. We’re getting this record out and we’ll have a fall tour posted around that time. We love playing clubs because they do the sound right, but we’ve been enjoying the festivals because we get in front of new people who wouldn’t otherwise pay the price of admission.
As for my favorite show, I would have to say this one show at Rock Shop in Brooklyn back in 2015. There’s not really anything special about it to tell, but we were incredibly rehearsed to to the point where we just went crazy.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
I’d say instagram has the most tangible interaction. Facebook seems dead honestly and you pretty much have to pay to get anyone to see what you post. Twitter is just a different world and I’m not quite sure how to utilize that in the context of a band. I am an animator and graphic designer as well, so the visual aspects of instagram allows me to make videos and designs that can bring in new people – check it out @futurist_music.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
I would say it’s less of an escape and more of an opportunity to say how I really feel in a format that people actually digest. If you rant or virtue signal to strangers on the internet, it’s not like you’re going to win over any minds. The lines are already drawn. I like songwriting because I can say what I want to say without their biases or defenses getting in the way. And performing the music is cathartic for sure!
What musicians have really been inspiring you since you first started making music?
Oh man, where to even begin. The all time legends of modern music have all created a world/brand that is immediately recognizable completely their own…Radiohead, Björk, Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire, LCD Sound System and the Flaming Lips have affected me hugely are all solid examples of multimedia, coming from the musician/visual artist hybrid that I am, but those guys get big, start playing stadiums, and then you seek out inspiration from the smaller guys. I love bands like My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Spoon, etc. who you can still see in a club. The most tangible inspiration I get is from the other bands that we play shows with. We traverse parallel roads and share in mutual frustrations and that is realer than any band a million steps ahead of me.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. Do what you want to do, but actually do it. It’s not really up to me what people take from my music, but I am going to do this or die trying. That’s what drives me.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
Baby bands take tremendous effort to get moving and off of the ground. If you like an up and coming artist, share their music, follow their social media, buy their stuff, and GO TO THEIR SHOWS! It’s a free market. We understand no one owes us anything, but don’t forget where and how all of your favorite songs originate. The streaming sites, the music venues, studios, and manufacturers, and all of the current gate keepers place the burden of performance (ha literally) squarely on the musicians to put in all of their time, resources, and faith in making something that can connect with the world at large. If you like a new band, let it be known!