"It's a 'Greatest Hits' of all our different styles"– hmv.com talks to Future Islands
As they prepare to release their fourth studio album Singles, we sat down with Baltimore electro indie experimentalists Future Island to talk about the making of the record, moving beyond dance music and why this album feels like a 'Greatest Hits'.
Your new album Singles is out on Monday (March 24), how are you feeling ahead of release?
Sam (Herring, vocals): "Anxious. We just want to get it out there, you never know what people will think until you get it out."
So when did you start work on this record?
William (Cashion, guitars): "End of 2012, but really early 2013, then we wrote the whole year, we toured here and there, roadtested new material and worked on it during that whole time."
Was it a difficult album to make? Or a simple one?
Sam: "The writing process was kind of nice. It was the first time we weren't writing on the road, we actually took time off to write, so that made it a bit more relaxed. Once we got in the studio it was a bit more interesting, we were working really hard for 23 days straight."
"We finished up in this New York studio, for about 10 more days, it wasn't too different. Normally we do tonnes of work before we go in and just get it down, but things changed a bit more this time, we had a drummer in the studio with us this time and we had horns for the first time, so there was more to do."
You worked with Chris Coady on the album, what was he like to work with?
William: "He was great. He's a fun guy. We’ve usually work with our friend Chester Gwazda, but he wasn't able to do this one due to scheduling conflicts. Chris had approached me through mutual friends and said he was a big fan."
Sam: "He's a very different producer to Chester, we both spent a bit of time saying 'This is how we do things' and he'd be like 'That's crazy', but we worked through it and we ended up getting on really well."
William: "We've always been a band who like to capture the atmosphere of the room where we make music and Chris really wanted to avoid that and just make it so that the music was coming straight from our brain to the speakers, so we met somewhere in the middle."
Sam: "Chris is a big synth guy, he made Gerrit (Welmers, keyboards and samples) work very hard, making him try out loads of things, but it was worth doing. He also worked hard with me on making my voice sound as natural as possible, whereas with Chester I'd try and make him distort it and cover it up. I love how it sounds now."
How do you feel this record moves on from your last album On The Water?
Sam: "It's definitely a big step up sonically. It's our first time recording in an actual studio, we did On The Water in this weird house, this is the first time we've been able to write a bunch of songs and have the pick of the litter. Last time we went in with six songs and fleshed it out from there, it was a real push."
Do you feel like you have a clearer vision of where you are as a band now?
Sam: "Our first album got a lot of attention, and then when we put out On The Water it seemed like most people were like 'Why isn't this a dance album?', but it allowed us to do whatever we wanted next. This record shows off all sides of us, it's a 'Greatest Hits' of all our different styles."
Is that where you got the title from?
William: "We threw a lot of names around and nothing really stuck, it was only the name 'Singles' that made everybody sit up and say 'That's really good'. We wrote a lot of songs and picked the best ones, so it was a bit like picking singles."
Sam: "To me, each song has its own style, its own sound and its own feeling, there's not a central theme that unifies them."
So are you booked for the rest of 2014?
Sam: "Yeah, and for most of 2015 too, touring all over the place. Things will be announced as the year goes on. A few festivals, not many in Europe so far, but we're working on that."
Future Islands' new album Singles is released on Monday (March 24th) and can be pre-ordered here.