An interview with Future Islands, playing their 1,000th show in Carrboro in July | Music

An interview with Future Islands, playing their 1,000th show in Carrboro in July

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Coming home to play ball: Future Islands - COURTESY OF FUTURE ISLANDS
  • Courtesy of Future Islands
  • Coming home to play ball: Future Islands
This morning, North Carolina natives and Baltimore residents Future Islands took to Instagram to announce important summertime news: They're coming home—or at least to Carrboro—to play their 1,000th show on the Carrboro Town Commons. Scheduled for July 26th, the concert's commemorative number is indicative of just how hard Future Islands worked before signing to Thrill Jockey and 4AD and before wowing Letterman and going viral. They've played those 1,000 shows in less than a decade, as they first hit the stage in 2006.

This will be much more than a normal set for Future Islands. It will be an all-day bill, built from their favorite North Carolina and Baltimore acts. The lineup hasn't been announced yet, but you can request $15 tickets before they officially go on sale here. 

This afternoon, I asked Sam Herring about the band's decision to play Carrboro instead of Baltimore and about his first memories of making music in the town.

INDY: What's the first time you remember playing Carrboro or Chapel Hill?
SAM HERRING: Our first time in Carrboro, we played one of those Sunday Showcases at the Cat's Cradle, where the bands sell tickets for a matinee show and try and bring friends and family out to watch them on the big stage. We were all really pumped, just because of what that space meant to us. William had seen tons of shows there in high school, driving up from Wendell, and I had also trekked the 3.5 hours from the coast on occasion.

The main thing I remember about that show was that I popped my knee out of socket while drinking a beer in the backseat of a buddy’s car right before we went on. When I was getting out of the car to go inside, she started to drive forward and my foot got trapped under the back tire while my body was moving with the car. The tire actually went all the way over my heel and then there was a pop and my knee hyper-extended. I just shot out of the car in pain. We went on 15 minutes later, and I was totally hobbled and in real distress. But we had to play! Stupidly or courageously, to cover it up, I jumped off the front of the stage and finished the last couple songs on the floor, dancing wildly, hoping no one noticed I was injured. I think it worked, but my leg was ruined for a few weeks. I couldn't really get around for awhile.

That was January 18, 2004, with our first group, Art Lord and the Self-Portraits. We were coming up on one year as a band at that point. It was our 14th show as that incarnation, two years before we'd start counting to 1,000 with Future Islands. We were just young kids who were really, really excited to play at the Cradle. 

Future Islands’ first show in the area was at the Nightlight, which had become a spot that we'd frequent towards the end of Art Lord. That was March 2, 2006, our fifth show. We had become good friends with the people who ran the space. That was when it was still the Skylight bookshop by day and the Nightlight when the sun went down. I don't really remember the show, but we played with Spader and The Texas Governor, both amazing bands we still love to this day. As Art Lord, we used to have epic battles with Spader back in the day at the Bickett Gallery in Raleigh. We would set up across the gallery space from each other and play one song back and forth, talking smack between songs. There was a pie in the face on one occasion. This was most likely one of Spader's last shows, which marks it even more as an important event.

The funny thing about this changeover in our history was that, as Art Lord, we always had a hard time in the Triangle but did really well in Asheville and Wilmington and Winston-Salem and Greensboro. When we changed over to Future Islands, it all flipped. We struggled in all those cities we had done well in, but we finally started getting love in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. I never did figure out what that was all about.

What stands out to you from those shows?
Talking about the Cradle again, I think one of my personal landmarks was when we sold out two consecutive shows there in 2014. Being from North Carolina and going to the Cradle since I was, seeing a sold-out Anti-Pop Consortium show in 2001, to selling out our own shows in the expanded space was just really touching. I was humbled. I think we all were—not only in a venue that was such a huge part of our upbringing but also being in our home state and sharing it with all of our friends and family.  
 
Why opt for North Carolina instead of Maryland for a commemorative show like this?
Baltimore is of the utmost importance to us. That is the city we have repped for 7.5 years now and a community that accepted us and pushed us to work and create. With all that in our heads, we'll never forget our roots. North Carolina is the beginning of it all. It's where we cut our teeth. It's where we gained the support of a community. And it's where we got the love and support that made us feel like we could push it to the next level.

Our song, “Give Us The Wind,” has the line, “The loved ones we left back home will be our choir." That whole song is about pushing outside of your comfort zone to fight for what you believe, to find your truth. It's about our move from North Carolina to Baltimore, and that line is to say that, when we left home, we knew that we had people who were rooting for us. That's what North Carolina gave us then, and that's what we still feel when we come back home. Our roots are very important to who we are and the success we've been able to achieve. That will continue to be the case as we push forward. A lot of groups take that support of their community for granted, especially when they begin to grow. We try to share all of ours with the people who made it all happen.
 
Can you offer any hints on the lineup?
No, but it'll be North Carolina and Baltimore, for sure.
 
What's your favorite place to eat in Carrboro?
Well, my favorite place to hang is out on the benches at Weaver Street, but I can't lie—Bojangles kid, all day every day. I really hope some people from New York read this and come out to the show and are like, “Ooo, Bojangle’s, we'll have to check out that establishment..."  


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