[Interview] Future Unlimited Talk their Debut EP, SXSW, '80s Appreciation, and Drop a (Great) Pun
Future Unlimited's history has been short to say the least, but every single moment of the Nashville duo's musical endeavour has been very well spent. Starting as a friendship formed through a noise complaint, to experimenting musically while working on an independent movie soundtrack, to the present moment, the synthpop duo has grown in popularity and talent incredibly quickly. Two months ago, they surprised the blogosphere with the standout track "Golden," an anthemic synth-lovers dream steeped in the sounds that made '80s synthpop so great. The crooning vocals, the pulse-pounding synthesizers, the sweeping crescendos; Future Unlimited have tapped into the 1980s and used in a way that works beautifully with the current age.
Since the release of "Golden," Samuel D'Amelio and Dave Miller have released their slef-titled debut EP, performed at this year's South by Southwest, and were even featured in NME's "Top 10 Buzziest Bands of SXSW 2012." Things are only looking up for the Nashville duo, and I recently had the opportunity to chat with them about all things Future Unlimited. After the jump, you can read what Samuel D'Amelio and Dave Miller had to say to a few of my burning questions.
Adrian: Future Unlimited started as a noise complaint, did it not? Describe the beginnings of the band and the shared love the two of you have for ‘80s music.
Dave Miller: Our friendship started as a noise complaint yeah, but our musical relationship which has become Future Unlimited started last year. I was cooking in a small restaurant in Naples, FL when I got this call from some friends of mine that were making an independent film called Orca Park, and they asked me to do the score... so at that point Sam said I could crash on his couch for the duration of the filming. Sam encouraged me to get the hell out of GarageBand and experiment with some other DAWs. A couple days into the new DAW, our “experiment” ended up being the song "Golden."
Sam D'Amelio: Regarding the “shared love”—that’s kind of obvious at this point, right? ;)
A: In regards to this "shared love" for ‘80s music, who are your biggest influences from the decade, and what is it about the ‘80s that the two of you find to be so appealing and meaningful?
DM: I grew up with an older brother and sister who were always playing records in the house. I really took to the more post-punk and new-wave bands. I’ve always loved OMD, The Wake, Moby... The Cure... U2—those are the heavy influences. As far as contemporary artists—really dig Lansing-Dreiden/Violens, Bogdan Irkuk, College, and those 120 Days guys.
SD: My mother and father were total audiophiles—especially after their divorce (you know, when you try to find hobbies to fill up a void etc. etc.). I remember climbing through stacks of cassettes and vinyl – one that really grabbed me from the get go was Gary Numan (although that’s more 79’) and holy shit, the Eurythmics. Ric Ocasek with Beatitude, Tears for Fears, Depeche... shit like that. It’s just a whole mindset—those sounds, the synths, drum programming—for some people it’s a guitar shred off of Alice in Chains that does it, or a break from a Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth that does it—for me, it’s all about the synths.
A: Synths are heavily featured in your first track “Golden,” which was released only two months ago. The song immediately drew attention from all across the blogosphere, including myself. What can you tell me about the song, the meaning behind it, and how the two of you reacted to the reactions of those hearing it for the first time?
DM: "Golden" was the first track we conceived. It was one of those songs where the music just wrote itself long before we had the words. For me personally, it was a reach for something akin to a Tears For Fears chorus. I think Sam and I were both going for this green-street-hooligan-style football anthem, but the actual words are about the bullshit industry and dealing with a band of strangers, who become friends, then sometimes enemies. The reactions were initially what pushed us to keep writing—we’re incredibly grateful to be in this situation.
A: So, since you've continued writing following the release of “Golden," the two of you have garnered praise from blogs, music fans, and were even at this year’s South by Southwest, going so far as performing at a showcase put on by our good friends at Consequence of Sound. What was your experience like during SXSW? The atmosphere, the fans, the reactions? The two of you even made NME Magazine’s top 10 buzz bands of SXSW.
DM: Anyone who’s been to SXSW knows it’s hectic as hell, a lot of walking, free beer and tacos. It was actually a pretty chill time for us—we had fun and got to see some great artists and old friends we look up to. A lot of people weren’t expecting us to have a 4-piece with guitar and bass, but the response was really positive. Some may have wanted the “synth-pop” duo, but hey, being the new kids on the block, you can’t win over everyone. Not having a drummer (both Sam & I are drummers) was awesome—the setup is so less stressful.
SD: Oh man. I swore I’d never go back to SXSW some years ago, and boom, there we were again. I love it, but it’s definitely a clusterfuck. The actual shows were all really awesome—the CoS people were incredible—and the Popantipop showcases were a blast. The atmosphere was different at each show—being day/afternoon/night, but it was fun. Regarding the NME thing, I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around that one..
A: It's an impressive feat, and immediately following your whirlwind experience of SXSW, you released your debut self-titled EP for free on your website. Are the two of you pleased with how the EP has been received, and what stood out to you most following the release?
SD: To be honest, we haven’t even really paid attention to the reception. I mean, I hope it was well received—but I try to keep my eyes up and ahead. From what I’ve heard, it has something for everyone. Some people swear by one or two songs, and some people swear by some others. In the end, we’re just happy people like it. Genuinely.
A: Given that your time spent in the eyes of the media and music fans has been very short, there were bound to have been times when your music has been compared to the music of others. What comparisons have been made, and going forward, what do the two of you hope to do in order to further differentiate yourselves and your music from the rest?
SD: Yeah, but it really doesn’t bother us at all. We get Cut/Copy now and then, or The Drums, etc. If anything, it’s a compliment! We’ll let the music do the rest.
A: That's a good way of looking at things. With that in mind, what are your plans for the near future? Is a follow up to your debut EP in the works?
SD: The future... unknown. The original session which brought about all this (the “Cloak & Dagger” sessions) was a 6-month period that yielded around 18 tracks and god knows how many unfinished ones. The five on the current EP were just plucked out of a much larger session. It’s more or less a waiting game right now to see what to do with the next batch—whether we’ll keep doing free blasts, or wait to piece together a cohesive full-length. So I guess in answer to your question—yes!
A: On a final note, what have been the most exciting, or the most difficult or frustrating, moments over the course of your sudden upswing of attention and praise?
SD & DM: Life. Loss. We’ve both lost a lot of close family in the last year. Financially, we’re the worst we’ve ever been. Buying equipment is a joke because we can barely pay rent on the studio apartment we live in. It’s incredibly frustrating sometimes because it’s like, damn – imagine what we could do with a proper this or a proper that. But in the end, it’s what you do with what you’ve got. And right now, we have nothing, so the future’s unlimited from here.