Surfside 7 | February 11
Larimer Lounge | February 12 and 13
Creede Cabin Fever Daze | February 14 (See festival video here)
By Brian F. Johnson
It’s probably not something they’re real proud of, at least they weren’t when it was unfolding. But on the title track of Hotel Parties the Futurebirds begin with an incredibly autobiographical and hilariously misfortunate line that not only perfectly exemplifies the struggle of a band on the road, but also, in Futurebirds form, turns that misfortune into a redemptive, positive outlook.
Thomas Johnson, one of the band’s three singers/guitarists, starts off the song with the line “I wound up drinking backstage alone and wondering why we booked a show in Toronto on the Fourth of July.”
The line not only documents a particularly unfortunate booking, which resulted in an obvious lackluster turn out, but it also hits the nail on the head of how many bands feel during their formative years. But the Futurebirds’ members are mostly all from the south, and a crappy gig ain’t enough for them to get too sore. As they see it, it’s situations like that which make some of the successes that much sweeter.
“It’s easy to over-analyze your life when you’re sitting in a backstage the size of a janitor’s closet,” said guitarist/vocalist Carter King during a recent interview with The Marquee. “But when you find the time to step back and look at the overall picture of what you’re doing – we’re doing this frankly awesome thing that not a lot of people are in a place to do. A lot of people aren’t able to go down the path of chasing a weird, creative pursuit as a viable way of life. So, yeah it can get dark when you’re in it, but it can also be amazing and that’s the idea of Hotel Parties.”
The group, which formed more than six years ago in the fertile band incubator of Athens, Ga., has put forth three LPs, two EPs and a live album to date, and they released Hotel Parties in September on East Sound Recordings. Like their 2013 breakthrough Baba Yaga, Hotel Parties has received glowing critical praise. Relix said the album is an “honest, mature and articulate record that explores life on the road’s double-edged sword,” and called it the band’s “most timeless and cohesive release to date.”
Futurebirds — which refer to their music as shoe-gazing country, harmonious psychedelia, and barnstorming, ragged rock — explained in the press release that accompanied Hotel Parties that the record was an “accidental concept album that presents a series of dualities. Loving something and letting it go. Pining for success and trying to stay true to yourself. The beckoning call of road and the comforts of home.”
“It’s a two-sided sword,” said King. “There are those totally bummer drag times when you’re backstage in Toronto on the Fourth of July and then there’s the other side of meeting incredible people — or like on our recent tour we saw whales migrating up the west coast off the shore. It was like a Tuesday and we were coming from Eugene and we just had this moment where we were like ‘Fucking hell yeah, man!’”
King continued, “There’s two sides to the coin and once you get out of the semantic world of actually being on tour you see you’re doing this really awesome thing and get to see the response from people to the music at shows. We’ve had some people say some really touching stuff about what our music does for them and that’s an incredibly deep reward.”
Some of the people who’ve said nice things about the band include the press. Stereogum lovingly stated that the Futurebirds music is “perfect for a drive through rural nowhere with your arm swaying out the window.”
King said that he and his bandmates — which includes drummer Johnny Lundock, formerly of the superb but defunct Denver band Houses — are all continuing to feed off of those accolades, and that the positive responses keep expanding the group’s mind as to what the next step will be, while also taking pause to appreciate the ground they’ve gained and missions that they’ve already accomplished. King explained that back when the band first got together they had made it a goal to play the famed 40 Watt Club in Athens, and naively said that anything after that would be gravy. “Shortly after we started it was like, ‘Wow, people are kind of into this.’ Playing the 40 Watt was a huge watermark for us coming up in Athens,” said King. “It’s a historic club and we got to do that and it’s easy to let accomplishments get swept under the rug and be focused on what’s next, what’s next, what’s next. So we take steps back to look at and appreciate all the things we’ve done and the places we’ve gotten to go and we’re very fortunate in that respect. But there is no goal line. It’s not like you make it to a certain spot and everything is gravy. The struggles change. Touring gets more expensive. Production gets more expensive and it’s just like, the stakes get higher.”
That again is a big part of the “accidental concept album” of Hotel Parties and the underlying message that whether rolling strikes or gutters, all anyone can actually do is just enjoy the game.
“You never know what tour could be your last or what day could be your last,” King said. “So I try to go out there with the mentality that we’re getting to do this thing right now in this time and fucking enjoy it and do our best at what we’re doing and put on the best show we can for people.”
Larimer Lounge | February 12 and 13
Go If You Dig:
- Uncle Tupelo
- Drive-By Truckers