I’m no Roman general, however, I predict that when Futurebirds swoops down on any stage everyone within earshot will have a good time. Hailing from Athens, GA, Futurebirds has a sound that has been described as indie rock, Americana, and alternative country, but if you ask the band, their eclectic sound is best summed up as chonkyfire spliced with rock ‘n roll, a nod to the song “Chonkyfire” by Atlanta-based hip hop duo Outkast.
Carter King, 27, one of the band’s three guitarists and vocalists, says of the band’s name, “It was born in a ‘poultry evaluation’ class that I took at the University of Georgia in Athens. Our teacher was telling us a story about [Roman generals] using [the feeding patterns of] chickens to determine the outcome of battle. I thought it had a nice ring to it.”
Reminiscent of a Woodstock headliner, Futurebirds acknowledges late 60’s and early 70’s music as an influence. Band member Carter Kings says “if you listen to one of our iPod playlists in the band it’s pretty all over the place, but yeah we love early 70’s. We love a lot of that stuff.” Naturally, country greats George Strait and Randy Travis are on that list, but an unexpected addition is Taylor Swift who King counts among the band’s guilty pleasures. “We have a few Lorde fans in the band. A lot of early 90’s country music gets played too.”
After two EPs, one live album and two studio projects, original drummer and newlywed Payton Bradford left the group to pursue a career in law. Looking on the bright side, King says “hopefully he’ll keep us out of jail someday.”
Since the 2013 release of their second studio album Baba Yaga, Futurebirds’ lineup now includes King, guitarist and vocalist Thomas Johnson, 27, guitarist and vocalist Daniel Womack, 27, pedal-steel guitarist Dennis Love, 27, bassist Brannen Miles, 28, and Johnny “Colorodo” Lundock, 32, replacing Bradford on drums. Last but by no means least, is honorary member Dakota.
“That’s Daniel Womack’s dog” says King, adding that “she actually spent a good few months with us on the road touring. She came to all the venues with us, slept in the van; we snuck her into hotels and stuff. She’s just a great little spirit mascot to have along with us on the road. She’s a sweetheart.”
The more you think about it, it’s not such a stretch that the band likes Swift. After all, no matter what she’s singing about, her songs are fun and these guys are all about fun…even if it’s painful. King recalls the first time they played in Jackson Mississippi, “It was a blast, we had a great time. We were jumping around the stage and I ended up catching Daniel’s guitar in my face and I was bleeding out of my nose during the show. It was a good time. There was Karaoke before the show. Yeah we had a blast.”
Futurebirds just finished recording new music and are taking some time off from touring to prepare for its release sometime next year. As one of the group’s songwriters King says “everyone’s got their own unique voice.” The other writers in the band are Johnson, Miles and Womack.
When asked if they did a lot of recording on the road like with the last album King says “This was a little bit more compact. Baba Yaga we did in bits and pieces over a long time, this one we did in a fewer amount of chunks and not over 8 months, I think it was over two or three months that we completed the record. It was cool, just a little different way of working and we like to kind of change it up a little bit when we can because you don’t want to get too comfortable in your creative process, you want to put yourself in a different space every now and then.”
While preparing the new stuff Futurebirds has playing weekends here and there for the summer. Fans can keep track of the guys by visiting their website or following them on social media. Some Futurebirds trivia for hardcore fans is the story behind the band’s twitter name.
King says “When we first started getting into all of the social media stuff, this teenage girl in Japan or somewhere named Lil’ Kim (not the rapper) had the name Fututurebirds with one “d” so we [made our twitter handle Futurebirdds with] two “d’s”. Then just recently I noticed that the name was free so we jumped on the one “d” now we’re happy to have it. Were glad we didn’t have to resort to bullying a teenage girl out of a twitter name.”
An edited version of this story was first published in the Jackson Free Press August 6-12, 2014 v12 i48 (Jakpedia edition)