TFV Presents: Futurebirds Interview

While at Shaky Knees this year, I had the chance to sit down with Carter King, Daniel Womack, and Thomas Johnson of Futurebirds for an interview. These guys have been around since 2008 and have made their way across the country on tour, even making it to Red Rocks. Check out the interview below!

Daniel: Thanks for taking the time to do an interview. I saw you guys last year when you played Virginia Highland Summerfest. It was the first time I ever saw you guys. So when and where did y’all start as a band?

Futurebirds: We are from Athens, Georgia. 2008 was when the band kind of started, but we were friends for years before that. We were all at UGA and just had various bands, you know, throughout college, and then just kind of meshed those bands into one, basically. And that’s what kind of how Futurebirds formed.

Daniel: How did you get started doing music? Was it just like inspiration and wanting to start a band? Were you guys in high school bands yourselves or did you play instruments prior to that?

Futurebirds: No, we didn’t know each other in high school. But we all kind of had bands throughout college and most of them sucked pretty bad. Two of us had met each other before, but we kind of all met each other around the same time that we were all looking for something new and we all just had the same energy. Two of us were interns at Chase Park Studio in Athens that Dave Barbee runs. The Drive-By Truckers record there. That’s a good place to meet, honestly, you know? We were all hanging out in the bars long before we even realized that, and we all already played musical instruments, too. I mean, it’s a good way to start anything. A lot of bands I know started that same way. Usually a friend group or guys hanging out and they sort of come out of nowhere with the music.

Daniel: Very cool. Where was your first gig as a band?

Futurebirds: Well, the first gig where Thomas was officially part of the band, we actually were opening for Dr. Dog at a fest in downtown Athens, which doesn’t exist anymore. But Athens was kind of our home venue for a while. We loved it there.

Daniel: That’s cool you got to open for Dr. Dog.

Futurebirds: Yeah. So, but that was, uh, that was probably the first official show. That’s what Athens is good for. It’s easy to get gigs. There’s a lot of bars, a lot of music happening. It’s like, you know, easy to get on with nationally touring acts like Dr. Dog. And we did one with Blitzen Trapper, too, at the 40 watt, and that was one of the first shows that we did as well. We thought we were blowing up there for a little while.

Daniel: Well, I get that. What’s the best and worst venue you all have played so far?

Futurebirds: Well, you know, we’ve been touring the country since 2009, basically, so there’s been a lot of bad and awesome. Probably more really bad. We played like twice as many shows the first five years as we do now, and almost all of those venues sucked. I don’t want to name it, but there’s one in Utah that was just really bad. Our favorite venue, though, to play was Red Rocks. Pine Creek Lodge in Montana was so sick. It’s in the middle of the most beautiful valley in Montana, just north of Yellowstone.

Daniel: So what’s it feel like being on the Shaky Knees lineup? The roster this year has some big names on it. You have Muse, the Lumineers, and the Killers as the headliners.

Futurebirds: Great! We’ve been wanting to get on it, especially since it’s kind of like in our backyard. We’ve been trying to break into this festival for a long time, and we finally, finally did it. So it feels good. You know, it’s gratifying to be on the lineup and to be on a good stage too. It’s good when we’re able to play a better time slot and on the big stage. We would have rather waited to do this than play Shaky at the noon slot on the smaller stages or something like that. Nothing against that. Those stages are great. But it’s like, you know, the people aren’t here yet.

Daniel: Yeah, it’s hard to build momentum because you play one year and you have to wait so many years before you can come back, you know? Do you know of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard? What’s your favorite King Gizzard album?

Futurebirds: Yeah. We like the one with Dripping Tap. We saw them play at Bonnaroo and hadn’t like dug deep into their records at all. Just seeing their set at Bonnaroo was phenomenal because they go that jam band format, the whole crowd just swirling with people running in circles.

Daniel: Hard or soft tacos and why?

Futurebirds: It depends on where we are. But historically it’s been hard if it’s a classic beef taco. But soft tacos if it’s like street tacos or something like that.

Daniel: Yeah, it has to be like that street taco though. Otherwise, I go with soft flour personally.

Futurebirds: Yeah. You need the flour security. The corn is going to rip the structure. But a good corn shell is really, really good, though, you know what I mean? Corn has a margin of error that is a little bigger. I think, you know, flour is kind of good no matter what. But then corn, there’s a lot more nuance to a corn tortilla.

Daniel: So what do you guys have planned for the rest of this year for 2023?

Futurebirds: Playing the Ryman in a couple of weeks in Nashville. And we are we’ve got some other stuff that’s happening here. We are recording some. We got a big Memorial Day show thing we’ve been doing the last several years at the Windjammer in Isle of Palms, South Carolina out on the beach.

Daniel: Oh, that’s a super cool spot.

Futurebirds: We’re going back out west playing Dusty Boots Festival in Denver. Doing Lander Live out in Wyoming in August. We will probably hit sliding rock again in Sinks Canyon. Some of the coldest water we’ve ever been in. Super, super cool out there. But yeah, man, we’re just going to be touring, you know, the rest of the year. Gigging, touring, recording. Been one of the more normal touring years we’ve had. I mean with COVID and everything, it’s been weird. Even last year was kind of an odd year of touring, but yeah, we’re just hitting a lot of spots we haven’t been to in a minute and just trying to get out there as much as we can.

Daniel: Yeah, makes sense, you know. Thank you for your time. Looking forward to your set today.