Future Islands has fast turned into one of the world’s hottest touring bands over the past year and Australia has not been exempt to the Baltimore-based band’s effervescence and vibrant charm. Quickly making their impact on crowds off the back of successful appearances at Splendour in the Grass and then the Laneway Festival, where they also rolled out some indomitable headline sets on the east coast, Future Islands became more than a way to get your rocks off at a live music show – what they offered was akin to a cathartic live experience people would soon flock to at each opportunity.
The release of their fourth studio album Singles last year shot the band to global fame, largely thanks to “Seasons (Waiting on You)” and a now infamous television debut on …Letterman that had frontman Samuel T. Herring‘s unique presence become an element of the band’s live shows people turned out specifically to watch. While the album has kept Future Islands on the road relentlessly since its release, the band hasn’t lost any sense of quirk or swagger and most certainly none of the enthusiasm and passion that we’ve come to love about them so.
Returning to Australia for a third time in this album’s tour cycle, Future Islands are lining up some stomper dates both of their own and as part of Mumford & Sons‘ upcoming November tour. Taking in the huge ‘Gentlemen of the Road’ event in Sydney, supporting Mumford in Melbourne and then hitting Adelaide and Brisbane for their own shows is an opportunity not to be taken for granted, bass/guitarist William Cashion acknowledges.
“We’re pretty pumped that it’s worked out,” he says. “We’ve already been out twice since Singles came out, so the fact we’re getting to go a third time is pretty exciting for us.”
The tour schedule Future Islands have lined up for this November trip will have the band performing a show a night for almost the entire time they’re in Australia but as Cashion describes of the band’s normal tour mentality as it’s now developed, this kind of chaos is a cinch for them these days.
“I think we’re all just used to it by now.” he says. “Back five years ago, I was still booking the band and we would regularly go on tour for about a month at a time with no days off – it was a show a day. We did a European tour once that was something like 42 shows in 44 days, or something crazy like that. We’re just used to it. We don’t party as hard as we used to; we used to party a lot harder on the road. Drinking water has become an important thing and just simple stuff like sleeping in if you can, getting as much as possible. Not partying as hard has been the biggest one!”
Taking stock of what Singles has meant for Future Islands as a band, Cashion notes that the change and growth of momentum and profile the band’s undergone in the past year has become an element of ‘the job’ that they’ve begun to feel the effects of.
“With the last couple of tours that we’ve done – we did a short run in the UK and a show tour on the west coast in the States – it definitely felt like things had shifted, in a way. They were mostly headline shows with a few festivals and it felt like things had shifted.”
“It has been such a whirlwind.” he says. “This year, we’ve had a few breaks, a week off here and two weeks off there where we’ve had a chance to catch our breath. Last year, even more so than this year, it was hard for us to grasp how fast things were growing. I think we’re starting to realise and see it [now].”
Perhaps for fans who came to Future Islands off the back of their 2014 release, it wouldn’t have been that far-fetched to assume Singles was the band’s breakthrough debut. However listeners have come into discovering the band’s three-album deep catalogue isn’t really an issue though, as both Cashion and myself chat about the almost nerdy giddiness that can come with exploring new music, new artistry and a body of work that you might not have been aware of at all, previous to a “Seasons (Waiting On You)”, for instance.
“It’s important to us and it’s exciting for us as music fans ourselves,” he says. “When we find a band that we love, to go and dive into their back catalogue and look at what they’ve done before. Even if it’s checking out other bands that they’ve been in, following that family tree of different bands, it’s really exciting. We’re stoked that we now have a body of work that people can dive into.”
In terms of any new Future Islands material, fans will be waiting a little while yet for a full batch of new songs, though having been on the road for much of 2014 and 2015 has made the band hungry for seemingly elusive studio time.
“We’re all really excited for the next record,” Cashion enthuses. “Back when Singles first came out, we were already talking about wanting to start writing the next album, but we’ve been so busy! We’ve only had time to write in February of this year and that’s when we wrote “The Chase” and “Haunted By You”, the new single that came out in April/May. We’ve got a few ideas floating around and we’re excited to jump back in to writing again.”
Commenting on the way the Future Islands work ethic and creative dynamic has remained steadfast in between albums, Cashion calls on the sense of drive and confidence he and his band mates have always maintained as being one of the causes for their strength as a collective. Although their name has been a topic of conversation for bloggers, critics, TV hosts and music fans more now than possibly before, he maintains that Future Islands have always been the same band of brothers, even with additions and adjustments to the way they’re rolling out live shows to accommodate larger numbers.
“The way that we approach the songwriting and the way that we approach the live performances has remained the same over the years,” he admits. “It hasn’t really changed that much, I think. We’ve always had that confidence about us, the three of us have always been very confident in what we can do. When we started playing with a live drummer and when we started playing with Mike, who is currently playing with us, he’s such an amazing drummer and he really brings a lot to the table. I think that with the three of us, we just have a trust in each other and we’ve been through so many tiny, weird shows. We hope to be the band that can still play a small venue one night on tour and then go play a really huge venue the next night. I feel like some bands, once they step up, they don’t want to go back down, but we’re cool to go back and forth. We definitely try to bring it, regardless of what the show is.”
FUTURE ISLANDS AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
November 12th – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, MELBOURNE | SOLD OUT
with Mumford & Sons, The Vaccines
November 13th – The Gov, ADELAIDE
November 14th – Gentlemen of the Road @ The Domain, SYDNEY | SELLING QUICK
with Mumford & Sons, The Vaccines, Jake Bugg, The Jungle Giants, Meg Mac, The Art of Sleeping
November 16th – The Triffid, BRISBANE