By Jay Donnell
Photos by David McClister and Ryan Myers
Fresh off the release of their brand new album, Portico II, Futurebirds is getting ready to embark on one hell of a tour across the United States this fall. The band has had a low key summer while trying to get the second part of Portico released, but that’s all about to change very quickly.
With dates in places like Philly, NYC, New Hampshire and Maine, you’ll be able to catch the group that formed in Athens, Georgia all over the country in the coming months. You can catch them this Friday night in Athens at the Georgia Theatre.
LMD recently sat down with singer/songwriter/guitarist Carter King and he provided some great insight into how the new album came about and what the band has in store for us this fall.
The Second Part of the Portico album, Portico II, was released in late August. Could you talk about what that process was like?
We’ve been sitting on Portico II for awhile and we’re happy to finally have it out. For this album we wanted to find a place where we could get really comfortable and Portico was the perfect spot. It’s not quite as expensive so you spend a little more time on the recording itself. We recorded some covers and also worked on some new original stuff. We discovered the Portico through the grape vine and it is just this amazing old turn of the century Baptist church that also had a really big recording space. It’s half an hour outside of Athens and connected to it is this big gold library with all these big gold books on religion. There were a couple of bunk rooms for everybody and the church itself is on 60-acres of land. It was owned by a man who used to play bass in touring bands and he turned it into this cool spot that almost felt like a summer camp. It’s right off the river so there are canoes and kayaks, etc. It was just good for the band to be isolated and not distracted by being in a big city.
That was kind of the vibe we were going for and we got it. We also started working on some songs that will become the next record. We decided we were going to split up the Portico into two parts so we released one awhile back and we’ve been sitting on the second part for some time now. The idea is that we’ll press a 12-inch record with Portico 1 on one side and Portico II on the other. In the end it will just be an actual eight song album. The bulk of the recording was done in two weeks.
Did you guys do a lot of experimenting during the recording process or did y’all already have specific ideas in mind?
It’s a gradient. Sometimes you walk in with a pretty specific idea or someone has a filled out demo on what they want to happen with a song, but even in that case people put their own touches on it and it becomes the band’s song. There’s always some amount of experimentation with writing and it’s always been that way for us. You have to leave it open so you can find out where it’s going to go next.
You guys have played in a ton of college towns all over the country. Which towns stick out to you the most?
We’ve had some fun in lots of college towns and we’re still no stranger to them. We played a couple shows up at Dartmouth which is a town where you feel like you’re out in the middle of the woods. Charlottesville is basically one of our home towns so we always have a blast there. Oxford, Miss. is always a lot of fun as well.
Are there any venues on your bucket list?
Ryman Auditorium would be a good one. I’ve seen some awesome shows there including John Prine. Red Rocks is another one. We’ve seen some great shows there so that’s definitely on the list.
Do you guys have any rituals you perform before going on stage?
We might do some half ass vocal warmups that we heard another band doing one time. We just make sure everyone has gone to the bathroom and has a cold beer so that’s about the extent of our pre show rituals.
What’s the oldest piece of equipment you guys use?
It’s probably Johnny’s drum set which is a Ludwig set. The great part about that is it was given to him by his father and it was the drum set his Dad got when he was 13-years-old. It’s an early 60s kit so I can’t jump into the drums or anything anymore which is okay. Can’t mess up Pops’ kit!
Why should people come out to see Futurebirds this fall?
We’ve got some stuff in store that we’re all really stoked about. For the first part of this tour we’re bringing along a three-piece horn section. It really lifts the energy of everybody on stage. Also, for most those dates we’ve got Parker Gispert from the Whigs opening up for us. He’s kind of doing the solo thing these days and we all came up big Whigs fans. The Whigs actually went to the same high school I went to in Atlanta. We want to come on stage and back him up for some songs.
How did the idea of bringing along horns on this tour come about?
We met these three guys who are former Red Coats which is the Georgia marching band and they’re in music school at Athens. We had them out to the Portico to record on some stuff we were working on. They fit right in with their mentality in the band. It was so cool playing with them because they’re all amazing players and they can do anything on a dime so we started thinking more about it. They’ll be with us at the start of this tour and definitely through New York. We’ll get them back in the lineup hopefully for October and some other fall dates.
Where can people find Portico online?
Anywhere you listen to music. Spotify, Itunes, Apple Music, etc. Hopefully by October we’ll have some hard vinyl copies too.