SINCE FORMING in 2008, Athens-based indie band Futurebirds has developed a loyal fanbase and released a consistent output of neo-psychedelic country-infused rock music. They’ve toured with the likes of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, The Whigs, and Drive-By Truckers, and have garnered critical acclaim for their unique sound.
Over a decade into their run, the band continues to tour - making Savannah a frequent stop, particularly over the last couple of years. Ahead of their upcoming gig at El Rocko Lounge on Thurs., April 11, we spoke to the band’s own Carter King on what brought them together and what the past 10 years have been like.
The Futurebirds sound is so unique and really not like much else out there at the moment. I’m curious as to how you this band got started and how you figured out what kind of band you wanted to be?
King: We all started playing together in Athen a long time ago now. It was pretty organic - a few of us were working at a recording studio together and the rest of us would hang out in bars together. We had about six different bands going at the same time, all with a rotating cast of the same musicians. They all sort of merged into one. It wasn't a real thought out plan or anything, we were just sort of operating to the best of our abilities [laughs].
So what was the point where you went, "Oh, this sort of works. Let's see how this goes"?
King: [laughs] That's sort of how it went! It was like, "Hey, we can keep doing this? We don't have to get real jobs just yet? Cool."
Were there any bands in common that you all agreed on?
King: There's a lot of music that we had in common or that we discovered from hanging out, but everyone's got their own interests and stuff that they like. So that's where the middle ground comes from.
For me, I was the youngest of three kids. My sister was a big Dead head, and would run away from home to see Grateful Dead shows. My brother was a classic rock guy, but was also discovering the country part of the Stones with Gram Parsons and all of that. My parents were into music like the Allman Brothers and soul music and stuff like that. So I just got the paint from everywhere, really.
The cool thing about you guys is that it seems like the success has been this really organic growth process. How has the writing process evolved over the years as things move along and get bigger?
King: It's definitely evolved. Each record we've made has had sort of a different approach to it, and not always by design. A lot of times it's out of necessity; where we are in life, how much money we've got in the bank, that sort of thing. Early on we were all living in Athens and there was a lot of hanging out and figuring shit out together.
We don’t live in the same town anymore, so it has to be more planned out now. We’ll get together and record demos for a couple weeks and hash it out. Everyone comes to the table with songs they’ve been working on, and they bring it to the band and we see what comes of them. Each song is it’s own story, but the record process has definitely evolved out of necessity.
The record we’re working on now was recorded in a ton of different places on days off during tour. We’d be on tour and have friends in Charleston or Mississippi, and it’d work out where we’d have a few days during the week off. So we’d go and work on a couple songs when we had the time. So each record has definitely been different in its execution.
How would you describe the new record, if you could sort of sum it up in its current form?
King: Man, I think it's some of the best stuff we've done. I think people are really going to love it. The songs themselves are maybe a little more contained sonically. It's a little more focused. Some of them are our most fun and upbeat songs, but there's also some of our maybe prettiest and weapiest on there, too. I don't know if it's so much different than what we've done before, but it's maybe a better version of what we've been doing.