Interview: Future Generations

Future Generations is a band with a familiar sound you immediately feel close to -as if maybe you've heard them before but can't figure out where. In the end, their familiar sound is their own; they make feel -good, unpretentious pop music that makes you move. I met up with Devon, Dylan, Eddie, Eric, and Mike on an August day in DC before their show. We crowded around a booth in the the back of the bar at DC9 and there was immediately a palpable sense of camaraderie in the group that continued to reveal itself throughout our chat. We talked about the band's origins, the different musical backgrounds of each member, and how their dorm room musical dreams have turned to recording studio realities. 

Capitol Sound DC: Walk me through the band's timeline, I know you guys met in college.

Future Generations: Yeah, so we all met within in a month of starting college - me (Eddie), Eric, and Mike lived in the same dorm building. We just happened to meet in the basement one time and started making music and we were like "let's be a band!" So, that happened very early - so that's about six years ago now. Later on, Devon joined the band -what year, junior year? Junior year, so a couple years later. And then Dylan came along about a year and a half ago via Craigslist. So yeah, we've been together making music together for a while; we've been playing shows probably a little over three years now.

CSDC: So what's behind the band name? 

Future Generations: So our first band name was "The Suits," and we got a cease and desist letter from a band also called "The Suits," that happened to be a band full of lawyers. So, that was probably the worst possible situation we could've had to deal with, so we were like we need a new name. We all just kind of brainstormed and came up with Future Generations; we think it fits our sound. We're sort of a hopeful, optimistic band so that's sort of why we landed on that. 

CSDC: What are all of your individual musical backgrounds; did you all grow up playing music?

Eddie: Mikey, take it away!
Mike: Straight hip-hop all day, every day. I started making beats because a kid's brother gave me like cracked beat making software in like sixth grade, that's it for me.
Devon: My cousins were into music, my cousin gave me a drum set when I was in like sixth grade and then he gave me a bass and I took to the bass more than I did the drums. SO I started playing bass in like seventh grade and immediately got into some sweet cover bands, played in some cover bands. In college I played in some bands and that's how they [Eddie, Eric, Mike] heard about me.
Eddie:  I've been playing piano since a young age, probably around 6 or 7; my dad taught me. But I didn't really get into it until like high school when I started writing my own music. This is the first band I've ever been in, it's going good so far.
Dylan: I've been playing drums since I was about three years old; I was just banging on stuff and my dad gave me a drum set. I studied it through high school and ended up going to Berklee for college; I graduated and moved to New York and was kind of lost. I saw a Craigslist ad, met these guys, got married, moved in together, bought a car together, and it's all been gravy. 
Eric: So I've been shredding the string since I was seven months old, pretty much straight out from birth I knew that I wanted to play guitar, so yeah I kept doing that and ended up here. 
Eddie: Boom. Magic!
Devon: All facts.

CSDC: So what kind of music did you grow up listening to, what kind of music did your parents listen to?

Devon: That's a really good question. 

CSDC: I feel like it's important.

Eddie: It is important.
Devon: A lot of Talking Heads, The Beatles, tons of bluegrass and folk.
Eric: My dad claims that Yes is like the greatest band of all time.
Devon: Your dad is right.
Dylan: Yes and The Guess Who, not The Who, The Guess Who. You can't tell him anything else.
Eddie: My dad played in a cover band all while I was growing up and they played like 70's funk -in a band called Soirée.
Dylan: Soirée? [laughing] That's awesome!
Eddie: Yeah, so that was obviously a big influence and we listened to that music at home but we listened to I guess adult alternative at home mostly. I don't know like Steely Dan, does that count? 
Devon: Oh yeah.
Eddie: Also threw some Ben Folds in there, I don' know, early Coldplay was a big influence I guess.
Devon: Yeah, my dad showed me "Yellow."
Eddie:  Yeah, I think that sums it up. Eric?
Eric: Eh, it was pretty much all me.
Eddie: Really?
Devon: Your parents didn't listen to anything?
Eric: Not a ton, no.
Devon: Dang, that's crazy! Mike who'd your parents listen to?
Mike: They listened to the radio, whatever you know. My dad claimed to like rap but..
Devon: I don't know if I would have played music if it wasn't for my parents playing music.
Eddie: Same.
Devon: Different strokes.

CSDC: When I listen to your music, there's a familiar sound to it yet I can't place it. Would  you say draw your sound from a wide variety of genres?

Eddie: Oh yeah, we listen to everything. There are very few genres that we don't listen to. Country music is maybe the only one we don't draw influence from.
Dylan: Body like a back road!
Eddie: Even then though, we'll listen to it -Chris Stapleton- like real country. But yeah, I mean we draw influence from everybody from like Tame Impala to Nas, you know?
Eric: Nas doesn't really come out very much.


Eddie: No but you know we listen to all these people and of course they have an influence on us. I mean recently it's been more like-we've said this but- at SXSW we saw a bunch of pop punk bands, a lot of high-energy rock, and so we've kind of drawn influence on that. I don't know we listen to a lot of different things, that's the benefit of having five different people with different tastes and different backgrounds because we all show each other new things all the time.

So who have you guys been listening to this summer?

Eddie: White Reaper, Hippo Campus.
Eric: The new Broncho song is really really fantastic.
Mike: I listened to "Oh Mandy" by The Spinto Band like 20 times yesterday, in a row.
Devon: That's a great one.
Eddie: We're always listening to Widowspeak.
Devon: I like the new Phoenix record a lot, I like the new Foster The People record a lot -both of those are cool. What else is good?
Eric: "Reelin' In The Years" by Steely Dan, is that the name of the song? 
Devon: New Real Estate album is really good too. 
Dylan: Local Natives' new record is really good.

*New Phoenix track starts playing in the background* a beautiful coincidence.

When did you guys start to really take the band seriously, not just like let's do this for awhile but eventually get 9-5 *day jobs*?

Eddie: When we started getting legitimate interest from legitimate people. I guess more than that because honestly we were all in school for different things -besides Dylan- we all went to school for business or communications or whatever. Me personally, I left Nashville because I wanted to avoid the music industry but once I saw that we had a legitimate chance at pursuing this, that's when I started changing my mind about that. I was lucky enough that the rest of the guys agreed with me and we all just decided to go all in on it.

Do you think that once you started getting interest from labels your sound started to change at all?

Eddie: That's an interesting question.
Devon: Yeah that's a good question.
Eddie: I think we started to take it a little more seriously but we weren't really like "oh, we have to be like a certain thing" we were just like we just gotta get better.
Dylan: I'd say we just got better.
Mike: We had the resources; like, we couldn't track drums in our dorm room but now we have drums on our record.
Eddie: Exactly, stuff like that.
Eric: Like we had the songs written way before, you know.

So the sound got bigger.

Eddie: Yeah, the sound got more professional. The songwriting was still the same pretty much, it's just we were able to go to the studio and kind of mess around with drums or new synthesizers or what have you, and just kind of had a little bit more professionalism behind it, so we took it more seriously. We're always trying to improve though, that's just the whole thing.

When people are listening to your music, is there an ideal vibe or space they're in?

Mike: Playing Scrabble.
Eddie: Yeah, if you're ever playing Scrabble or Yahtzee.
Devon: Maybe driving to the beach.
Eddie: Walking through the park.
Dylan: I think it's good walking music.
Eddie: Yeah, if you're walking anywhere.
Devon: There's a runner's podcast that has one of our songs as the intro and once every two months on Twitter somebody will be like "what's that song that's the intro to that podcast" and we just get a deluge of runners who follow us. So I think runners-
Eddie: Yeah you know if you're a runner and got your fitness going on.
Devon: Also if you're just by yourself doing work or studying, our music is very agreeable to that.

What's the best part of touring?

Devon: Other than playing -
Mike: Killing time.
Eric: I think going to restaurants honestly, like I just wanna eat all the food in all the places.
Eddie: Yeah Eric's a big foodie.
Devon: Checking out the food is fun.
Eddie: Me personally, I just like spending time with these guys. I live with most of them so I spend a lot of time with them anyways.

Who lives together?

Eddie: All of us except for Mike, we're trying to get him on board.
Dylan: You know what's been fun, this is our first tour with another band in every city so getting to know them has been really cool. When you're majorly good friends with the other band it's just nice.
Devon: Definitely.

Dream collaboration? Living or dead.

Eddie: Mike has probably 80 answers to this one.
Mike: Yeah, let me go last.
Dylan: Yeah it's gonna be obscure as hell.
Devon: Mine would be Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) he could teach me how to play bass better. 
Eddie: Mine is probably Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes)

She is such a queen.

Devon: She is a queen. I would give my life for Brittany Howard.
Dylan: I don't know if this would be for Future Generations or for me personally but dead, definitely Jay Dilla. Alive, probably the closest thing -Karriem Riggins or Questlove, something like that. I mean I'm sure that could work its way into a Future Generations song but that's more of a personal thing.
Eddie: Yeah that's more of a Dilly thing.
Mike: Okay I'll go, I'm second to last now. I'm with Dilla if we're doing dead. Alive -I don't really even wanna be there- I just want Rihanna and Dirty Projectors to collaborate. I've been calling that for months now that they really need to do something and I would hope that happens, I'll take 5%.
Devon: That's a great combo.
Eric: Didn't they do that song with Paul McCartney, is that Rihanna on that song FourFiveSeconds? They worked on that a little bit.
Mike: What?! That doesn't count though. I need the dude from Dirty Projectors to make a pop hit for Rihanna, very specific.
Eric: For me, I'd probably just pick Mark Knopfler. I really just like the way that guy makes the strings sing; it would be cool to have him just nail a solo for us because we never do that ourselves.

Follow Future Generations at the links below.

All photos by Cina Nguyen for Capitol Sound DC.