Interview: Fun Machine sets upbeat sound on Future Generations' sophomore effort
Courtesy of Frenchkiss Records

"Landscape" the title track from Future Generations' sophomore album is lively and sonically cartoonish in it's employment of the synthesizer. Much of the album - like latest single and video  "All The Same" - is infected with the same underwater warble bringing to mind Gorillaz and the sonic signatures of early Vampire Weekend. Frontman, Eddie Gore revealed that they played with a Fun Machine - the vintage Baldwin polyphonic organ from the 1970s, that certainly lives up to its moniker with its myriad combination of synthesized effects. It not only informed the record sonically but also the general mood of the band.

Their second album for Frenchkiss Records, released last month, Landscape highlights the band's considerable growth from their self-titled 2016 debut. The band has expanded from a trio to five members. All have been living under the same roof in Brooklyn for the last two years in order to pursue careers that neither had planned for.

Currently on tour to support the record, Future Generations, will perform in Los Angeles tomorrow night, Oct. 6, at The Echo and in San Francisco on Sunday, Oct. 7, at Cafe Du Nord, finishing up at Baby's All Right in New York, on Oct. 26.

We caught up with Gore to talk about why they gave up their old band name, the importance of label backing in an age where musicians can put music out themselves and how they got their hands on a sought-after Fun Machine.

AXS: You all met at Fordham University but where are you guys from originally?

Eddie Gore: I’m originally from Nashville, Tennessee but all the other guys are from the North East: Devon's (Sheridan) from Scranton, Eric's (Grossman) from Long Island, Dylan's (Wells) from Upstate New York and Mike's (Sansevere) from New Jersey.   

AXS: How did you land a record deal while still in College - were you sending your demos to labels?

EG: Not at all. In general, we as people didn’t consider music as a viable career option. Early on we were just making music for fun and putting our music online. We ended up putting out an EP - actually while I was doing a study abroad in London, my junior year - and it got picked up by some blogs, then the interest from labels followed. From there, we started looking at being in a band, as being a real opportunity.

AXS: What were you studying at the time?

EG: I was in the Business School, studying Marketing. Very not exciting at all. (laughs)

AXS: How has Frenchkiss helped you guys evolve as artists and what are some tangible things that being on a label has helped you do?

EG: We did not really start this band with the intention of it being our livelihood so we had a lot to learn. Working with Frenchkiss has forced us to learn. They're not very direct in their lessons but they do drive home the point that you have to get out there and play shows, and persevere. As a band, we've taken those things to heart and we have grown. We only see improvement in our future and want to get better, and that's got a lot to do with Frenchkiss. The two people that run the label - Syd Butler and Paul Hanly - we respect them a whole lot. We value their opinions. So anything that we do, we’re trying to impress them. In that way they've been so helpful; to have somebody that we can bounce our ideas off. Then they’ve also stood by us and been very encouraging. In this business, you have to have people believe in you and want you to do well or else it’s hard to keep going. The other more tangible things a label offers you is being able to afford a producer and studio time; that's very valuable but to me, probably not as much as the psychological support.

AXS: Why did you change your name from The Suits to Future Generations?

EG: Again we didn’t start the band with the intention to carry on so when we picked The Suits as our band name, it turns out that somebody already owns the copyright to that name. It turned out to be an older gentlemen who was in a band full of music attorneys. It was probably the worst outcome ever. (laughs)

AXS: That's a good origin story.

EG: Yes. We got a cease and desist letter when one of their fans came to our show. 

AXS: Ok, the album's title track,  “Landscape” really pops! It definitely has that Vampire Weekend vibe to it. I understand Justin Gerrish who has produced for Vampire Weekend worked with you guys. 

EG: A large part of why we wanted to work with Justin was that we love Vampire Weekend and we love Rostam. And we love that kind of sound; that overall optimistic energy is definitely something we take to heart and try to do in our own music. Justin has a lot of insight into making something that really hits hard so with this record, we brought a lot more dynamics sonically than our first record. There's a lot more moments when it’s actually quiet in the songs. Even on a song like "Landscape" which is very lively, it's basically only drum and bass, in the beginning, then a lot more guitar and solos in the chorus. That kind of mindset brought a lot of energy to each song which was great.

AXS: Were you also inspired by Talking Heads? I read that in a review but I don’t hear that as much,  except maybe in “I Never Knew I was Lonely.” It’s a nice standout and is a little obviously darker than the other tracks. 

EG: I personally love Talking Heads and the rest of the guys in the band do too. But as for this album they didn’t really have an influence on us in that way. We had a lot of varied influences in our lives and leading up to the album but in any of these songs, the goal was never to sound like so and so, in our minds. Of course, there were times when we would be like 'oh this sounds like a Phoenix drumbeat,' or 'the synthesizers here sound like a Sylvan Esso song.' But there never was a time when we said 'I want to make a song like Tame Impala.' We went naturally where the song led us and I think that's why the songs differ so widely in sound; just because of who we are and the way we make music but also it manages to have a common theme throughout. 

AXS: Speaking of a common theme, tell me a little about this Fun Machine. How did you guys come to have one and how did it influence the sound of the album and perhaps the general tone of Landscape?

EG: Justin actually had one in his studio! It was just there so we started messing around with it and were like 'boy, this thing really does make incredible sound!' So we naturally put it on almost every song on the album. (laughs) The whole thing about the synthesizer as its name suggests is really fun: When you turn it on, the little light behind the logo flickers and there is an accompanying super-cheesy drum beat. It was also a super fun instrument to play with and that was our experience being in the studio and making this record. We also wound up experimenting with so many different sounds and ways of writing music. We tried to really stretch ourselves sonically from the first album. The Fun Machine is a really fragile piece of equipment so we can’t take it on tour with us. When playing live, I’ll try to emulate sounds through a program that I have on my computer or Mike samples it through his computer as well.

AXS: In picking your new band name you said it was a reflection on how fortunate you guys are and a hope that future generations will be able ‘ to get to do what they love, and be with who they love’ – looking at today’s events in the news, how confident are you of this future? 

EG: I am naturally an optimistic person so I think we have a good shot at it. I believe progress is happening. Though it doesn’t feel like it right now, I think eventually, we will reach a better time but now it's tough. It's hard to appreciate the good times if you don't have the bad. Personally, in my own life, whenever a thing has soured or gone downhill, as long as I have persevered, worked hard and had goals, it's usually worked out for me. That could be an instance of privilege or what have you but we as a group try to instill positivity through our music. We're just five friends who are lucky to love what we do together, and I hope that positivity rubs off on some people.  

For full tour details, head to www.futuregenerationsmusic.com.