Interview: Future Islands

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“Balance” off Future Islands’ new album On the Water

“This is a song about me today singing about myself seven years ago,” said Future Islands vocalist Sam Herring, introducing their song “Balance” at the Black Cat Tuesday night.

On their newest album, On The Water, Future Islands returns to their running themes of memory, love, heartbreak, and nostalgia. On The Water proves to be an album that almost challenges what listeners want out of Future Islands. While usually known for dancey tracks, their newest release (while retaining some exceedingly danceable music) offers for the most part a more somber album that inspires introspection. Anyone can relate the seemingly personal experiences of the lyrics to scenes out of their own lives, offering a bit more staying power on repeat listenings than other purely danceable music.

Unlike previous albums, you wouldn’t necessarily bring On The Water on a jog, but Future Islands should never be thought of as unfaithful to their fans. Herring took full command of the entire stage at the Black Cat, side-stepping back and forth from stage-left to stage-right, almost like a raving dog, hopping around, amping up the audience. During their song “Tin Man,” Herring grabbed his chest and mimed pulling his heart out as an offering, holding it out in almost a Hamlet and skull manner, before crouching back down, singing directly to the crowd. These engaging theatric elements left space for synth/keyboardist Gerrit Welmers and bassist William Cashion to do their thing and provide the musical elements that get the crowd’s feet moving. And move they did, surprisingly so for a D.C. crowd.

By the time closer “Vireo’s Eye” came around, the dancing had begun to border on slam-dancing or mosh, and several people in attendance took the opportunity to crowd surf despite the venue’s strict rules against stage-diving. The band returned on stage for an encore, ending a mostly cathartic night of music on a high note with “The Happiness of Being Twice.” “For the first time, I can feel tonight/That’s why we share life,” sings Herring from one of the band’s older, purely optimistic tracks. But the audience wanted more, and being the crowd-pleasers they are, the band finished off the night by responding to overwhelming cheers for “In The Fall,” a song about going through the cold days of winter, waiting for spring to come, then summer, then finally the fall. The perfect song to leave an audience with as they spill out of the sweaty club into a beautiful fall evening, and showing that sometimes the crowd really just wants some catharsis with their dancing.

DJs Jim Walls and Mike Lindle sat down for an interview with Future Islands and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat (who opened the show along with Javelin) at the WRGW District Radio studios before the show to discuss the new album, Baltimore, and Morgan Freeman’s new film Dolphin Tale.

Interview w/ Future Islands and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat

-Jim Walls (DJ – PUNKWAVE, Fridays 8-10PM on

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