Future Islands, a group residing in the D.I.Y music capital of the world, Baltimore, play epic, emotional and often tongue in cheek “synth punk”. They’re playing at the Free Butt, Brighton on September 15th 2009. We saw them play at ULU in London last June with a lot of other bands from Dan Deacon’s Wham City collective, and they were amazing. We got in contact with William Cashion, the bassist.
Smack That: Thanks for the photograph is that outside one of your houses?
William Cashion: This photo was taken last weekend outside of a friend’s house in Greenville, NC. Various friends have lived there for years now, and that house is one of my old haunts from my college days spent there.
ST: First off, just the basics: Who is who in the band? And what do you all do?
WC: I play bass guitar and handle most of the booking/internet communication. Gerrit plays synthesizers & programs the beats, and Sam writes the words and sings.
ST: You’re part of the whole Wham City collective, can we assume from that, that you’re all ex-art school?
WC: Yep, all three of us went to art school. I studied painting, Sam did sculpture.
ST: How did you get involved with it?
WC: We became friends with bands like Dan Deacon, Blood Baby, Santa Dads, Videohippos, and OCDJ because they would come down and play house shows in Greenville with us. Our old band, Art Lord & the Self-Portraits would play shows with those bands around NC, and in 2004, we did a two and a half week tour with Dan Deacon. After I graduated, we decided to move up to Baltimore and focus full-time on the band.
ST: Baltimore sounds like it’s the place to be at the moment with the amount of cool and interesting underground music coming from there. Can you tell us a bit more about the whole scene there?
WC: It seems like everyone is in a band, or an artist, or a filmmaker, or a writer, or a director, or an actor, or a producer, or all of these things at once. There’s a great community where there’s not much pretension and everyone gets along with each other. There’s a lot of collaboration here, people tend to work together on different projects.
ST: We love the whole blue-screen thing at the moment. Who makes your music videos? Because they are insane. The director of the Beach Foam video is worthy of praise. It’s in my YouTube favourites.
WC: Joe Stakun made the video for Beach Foam. He lives in Philadelphia and is also working on a full-length documentary about BMXing. Allen Cordell directed our music video for Follow You. He also directed Dan Deacon’s Big Big Big Big Big music video, which is how we met Allen.
ST: I saw you guys in London in June at ULU. That was the craziest gig I’d been to in a long long time, are your gigs always that mad?
WC: They can tend to be a little bit more insane than that ULU gig. We’ve played several shows in sweaty warehouses where everything sounds horrible and the audience is completely wasted and falling over each other. Dan has a really awesome crowd, and they love to dance it up, so I think that particular was definitely our wildest show in London so far!
ST: I chatted to Sam in London, having a cigarette after you guys played. I told him that he was the funniest singer to watch I’d seen in a while. He didn’t like this and told me “I’m not a comedian, I’m completely serious”. Is he totally serious, because that would make you guys even better in my opinion?
WC: Sam is very serious about what he does and none of it is tongue in cheek. No jokes.
ST: At your ULU gig my friend Rose thought you looked like Matt Lucas, but with hair, do you think you could be related? Do you even know who he is? He’s a bloke that used to dress as a baby and play drums on TV.
WC: I don’t really think I look like him, but I do like Little Britain.
ST: Yeah, Little Britain’s great… NOT. So what’s in store for you guys over the next year?
WC: We are working on our new album, called “In Evening Air” and we are hoping to release it mid Fall or Winter. Also, 307knox Records and Altin Village & Mine are teaming up to release our debut “Wave
Like Home” on vinyl, and that will be coming out October 1st. A split 7″ with Lonnie Walker should be coming out by the end of the year.
ST: Everyone probably asks this, but is living in Baltimore like living in an episode of The Wire?
WC: It’s not really like The Wire at all. They did film some it just down the street from where we live, though.
Future Islands will be playing the Free Butt on 15th September 2009, get yourselves down there and get to the front so you can marvel at Sam “singing”.
Words by Lutworth