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Future Islands: Too Noisy For New Wave, Too Pussy For Punk

Future Islands: Too Noisy For New Wave, Too Pussy For Punk
Mike Vorassi

Future Islands is on a mission -- to not have one. Five years after their founding, the Baltimore trio remains as categorically amorphous as ever. Their Twitter tagline contends that they're "Too noisy for new wave, too pussy for punk," and indeed they go out of their way to skirt genres. Lead singer Samuel Herring calls it artistic freedom.

"We just want to show what it's like to be completely unguarded," the frontman explains as the band crosses the Iowa plains in their re-purposed "Hugs and Kisses" pet-grooming mobile. "It's about getting away from the dudes in the dude suits."

In March, Herring and his two bandmates -- William Cashion and Gerrit Welmers -- gathered for ten days in Elizabeth City, North Carolina at an isolated, waterfront dwelling. There, they recorded their third LP On the Water. Released last month, it is characterized by an uneasy marriage between flowing, textural palettes of lo-fi synths and new wave bass lines, and the erratic, punctuating overtones of Herring's guttural crooning.

The songs go over well in concert; just ask their German super-fan Andy, who followed the band around Europe for 17 consecutive performances this year. "We always hope to somehow crack through their shell," says Herring, referring to the oft stoic temperament exuded by contemporary indie crowds. By crafting an atmosphere that pairs compelling dance beats with Herring's emotional outpourings, Future Islands' shows become a cathartic experience for both the fans and performers. "Most people go to a specialist for help. For me, it's performing," Herring adds.

In this vein, touring is an indispensable tool of self-discovery for the band -- and they do so almost constantly. (Their performance at FYF this year was perhaps the most talked-about of the festival; people were listening from outside their tent, even though they couldn't see the stage.) But despite all the time together, they still manage to surprise one another, such as the time Cashion and Welmers came across Herring sleep-walking and making zombie noises at a recent tour stop.

 

Future Islands: Too Noisy For New Wave, Too Pussy For Punk
Mike Vorassi

But while Future Islands may not necessarily have any specific mission to speak of, that doesn't mean Sam Herring can't offer one to those who have never been to a show before: "Please don't believe the hype; just decide for yourselves."

This may sound like a bit of a cliché, but then again, who knows? Following his advice may just allow Future Islands to crack through your shell.

Future Islands performs the Echoplex tomorrow night, November 17th


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