The Trident Spotlight: Who Are Future Islands?

Jono Godlee

Happy Easter, everyone. Hope you’ve all enjoyed all of the easter eggs (time to hit the gym now, folks)!

So, as the current Head Of Radio at Trident Media, I thought that I’d introduce two new features coming to Trident Media called Trident Spotlight. Also, over next the few months on Trident Radio, the team will be introducing a new batch of radio shows called ‘The Spotlight Sessions’, so watch out for those.

This Trident Spotlight will be all about the Baltimore based band Future Islands. The band has four members, with frontman Samuel T. Herring, keyboardist Gerrit Welmers, bassist William Cashion, and touring drummer Mike Lowry. Herring, Welmers, and Cashion formed the band in 2006, and have performed over 1000 shows.

[Image credit: Florian Koppe]
This new wave rock group first received their claim to fame in 2014, thanks to an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, and the release of their fourth studio album Singles. The track Seasons (Waiting On You) was considered best song of 2014 by Pitchfork.

They have released six albums since 2006, and the production and songwriting have improved dramatically ever since their first release. If you listen to the whole of their back catalogue, then you will be made aware of the noticeable changes and improvements.

Online magazine Consequence Of Sounds called Future Islands one of the biggest bands around, and even today, that statement rings true.

Future Islands have performed at many major festivals over the years, the most notable ones being Glastonbury, Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Panorama. During a stop off at an airport in Spain, Samuel T. Herring passed out while on the way to Lollapalooza Festival in Barcelona, Spain, in the year of 2014. Medics had to revive him at the airport, and in an interview featured on NME’s website, Herring himself stated ‘I made the plane and played the show and I thought I was going to die… But I just went for it as hard as I could, because I said ‘Well, if this is the last one [gig], let’s go’, and so it was a really good show!”

The majority of Future Islands’ tracks are written about incredibly deep and personal topics and, as a result of this, all of the performances that the band do are incredibly emotive and powerful. One of the best sets that Future Islands have ever done (aside from the Primavera one) has to be their performance at The Far Field release gig, at the Ottobar in Baltimore, which you can view here. Another one that is worth watching is the previously mentioned Primavera set from 2014, and you can watch all three of their live performances here, here, and here.

Over the years, the band has included various artists in their songs, but this is a rare occurrence. The singer Jenn Wasner from the band Wye Oak provided vocals for the track ‘The Great Fire‘ and has performed with the band live from time to time, but the most notable artist that has featured on one of Future Islands’ tracks is Debbie Harry from Blondie. She provided vocals for the song Shadows, and her vocals pair incredibly well with Herring’s unique singing style.

On that note, Herring’s distinctive vocalisations have a somewhat interesting origin. The singer was diagnosed with Reinke’s edema, and this was a consequence of acid reflux, smoking, talking too much and the overuse and misuse of his vocal cords. Still, that never got Herring down, and he started compensating for the fact that he can no longer reach certain notes by growling and, in turn, this created his novel singing style.

One of the best things about Future Islands is Samuel T. Herring’s dancing: he puts his all into his dance moves, and it honestly is one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen. His energy is infectious. If you ever get the chance to buy Future Islands tickets then go for it, because you will not be let down (I sometimes try to replicate them at The Forum, but it’s very hard to do them as well as he does)!

What better way to bring this article to an end, than by simply posting one of Future Islands most contentious performances, as this is by far the most powerful live version of their track Cave where the band was invited onto Conan in April of last year – and absolutely smashed it.

All of Future Island’s albums from the very beginning are on all of the major streaming services, so definitely go and check them out!

That’s it from me for this week. Have a lovely Easter break guys, and I will see you back here, in approximately seven days. The next Trident Spotlight will be all about the Finnish band Poets Of The Fall, who are coming over to the UK in October.

– Jono

Has Future Islands’ music piqued your interest? Listen to Takeover Tuesdays & The Chill Hour – Back on air on the 17th of April at 6 pm – where I will probably play some Future Islands!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Trident Spotlight: Who Are Future Islands?