To support the release of their new album ‘As Long As You Are’, American synth-pop band Future Islands have taken over the official Everton playlist on Spotify.
Fronted by Evertonian Samuel T. Herring, the quartet from North Carolina formed in 2006 and have become regular faces at the world’s biggest festivals thanks to the success of their five previous studio albums.
Herring tells us more about life for the band during a difficult year for the music industry, how he came to support the Blues, and what happened when Leighton Baines turned up at one of their shows…
Who’s in the band and how did you form?
Future Islands is William Cashion (bass), Gerrit Welmers (keys and programming), Mike Lowry (drums) and me, Samuel T. Herring (vocals). We formed in Greenville, NC, in January 2006. We had a band before that, Art Lord and the Self-Portraits, that started in the art department of East Carolina University. When that band ended, we began Future Islands with a new member.
Band highlight so far?
I would say too many to name. Just travelling the world with my friends and watching the crowds grow. We've played over 1,200 shows as Future Islands and hopefully we can start counting again once we're cleared to travel.
How did you become an Evertonian(s)?
I started following Everton in the fall of 2013 while Future Islands were recording our fourth album, Singles. I started watching Premier League football for the first time and wanted to watch more but didn't have a team. I watched Everton play and immediately knew that was my team. My football team as a child wore the same blue and I loved that they seemed hard-working and there was no clear star - they were a team. That's what I liked about them.
Leighton Baines is a fan. Tell us about that…
We were in Manchester playing a place called Sound Control in early 2014. After the show, one of the promoters ran backstage and said, ‘Leighton Baines was here!’. So I sent a tweet out into the ether saying 'Hi Leighton, I am a fan - say hi next time!'. Then, later that year, we were playing Shepherds Bush in London and I got a present – a Leighton Baines shirt signed by the team. It was really cool.
Any earlier interest in football?
I grew up playing from five to 13 years of age and won a state cup in North Carolina as a 12-year-old. I was the centre-back/sweeper, team captain, and the PK man. I always loved to play but got older and found interests in art and music and got away from playing sports.
Rate your ability 1-10…
Well, I have a torn ACL so I'm not much on the pitch anymore. If I'm playing against children, I'd say I'm an eight! Against adults, probably more like a three. I don't think I'd be allowed on the pitch with any pros.
Have you ever been to an Everton game?
I've only seen Everton play once; I was at Stamford Bridge last year. It was not the best result but I hope to see them at Goodison one day...
What were you supposed to be doing in 2020? And what has been the reality?
Well, I was supposed to be doing a ton of touring with Future Islands this year, with the release of our new album, As Long As You Are. Instead, we're finding new ways of promoting the record from home and trying to stay creative and positive.
How has the pandemic and lockdown affected you as a band/musician?
Other than affecting us financially, the biggest thing is not being able to get together and play. We have been making music apart for a few years now, sending demos back and forth through the internet, but the pandemic has turned that practice into a new reality that we are having to use because of restrictions and health concerns.
Who would you say Future Islands are for fans of?
Hmmm… that's hard. My favourite description of our band from years past was Joe Cocker fronting New Order. If that doesn't necessarily fit our sound now, as we've grown in our sound, I would say it helps to turn someone on their ear and say, "it's not your average band”. Our tastes are wide-ranging as individuals but we take a lot of inspiration and [find] common ground in bands like The Cure, Morphine, OMD, Magnetic Fields etc…
Favourite current Everton player? Favourite all-time player?
I hate to pick favourites but Richarlison is my guy! I'm still only seven years into my Everton support so I don't feel comfortable picking an all-time player, because I know there's a lot of history that I have missed. Romelu Lukaku was definitely a favourite of mine before he left and I still follow his career elsewhere.
What’s your experience of playing gigs in Liverpool?
Had some wild ones. The first time we played in Liverpool, it was strange because we were in this basement space and you had to pay five quid to get in to watch the show. So, basically, the show happened and maybe four or five people were there and we were thinking to ourselves, ‘Wow what a bummer for a Saturday night’. We finished and went upstairs and the bar was packed and there were television screens of the show happening downstairs and people watching! They got the show for free, so why pay five quid?! We then head outside with our gear and there's thousands of people and hundreds of hen parties in the street, lots of yelling, laughing and crying all around us. And we wondered why we were in a basement this whole time!
That was the first and probably the best story from Liverpool. But we've played a number of times since and we've always had a wonderful crowd.
Future plans for Future Islands?
Just keep playing.
Lead photo: Justin Flythe.