Austin-based band, Future Death comes to life (ironic, seeing as how they recorded their album in a funeral home)! The band will be releasing their debut album, Special Victim, on May 27 on Bloodmoss Records. SV portrays a punk persona sure to make its listener heated with energy.
The band is composed of Alton Jenkins, Bill Kenny, Jeremy Humphries on bass and Angie Kang on vocals. Their first two singles have been described as “controlled chaos” as well as “bright.” The band mostly embodies a punk sound, but Kang’s feminine vocals soften the tone while also enhancing the passion. Most listeners would consider punk music to sound a little cynical, but Future Death’s first two singles, “Basements” and “Riot Trains” are equally crazy and just genuinely fun.
Bill Kenny [guitarist]:It’s actually an homage to The Flaming Lips, but the meaning I guess is pretty self-explanatory. Life, I guess. As much as I’d like to leave it to interpretation, I guess you could say its really about inevitability.
VM:. It seems as if not all the members of the band have known each other from the start. How have you guys come together to form Future Death, and how do you continue to balance roles?
BK: I had found a video of Alton playing drums on a friend’s Facebook page with a message saying that he was looking for a project. Got his number, we played one day. The next day, about 20 minutes into playing, we decided that this was something and we should start writing songs. Alton had known Jeremy Humphries from previous projects and happened to run into him the day he moved back to Austin while we were looking for a bass player. Over the next few months, we continued writing and recording what would be the S/T EP that came out last October. We had finished tracking the S/T record and were writing songs that would later be on Special Victimwhen we found Angie through a Craigslist post after trying out multiple vocalists. She sat in on a practice, and we immediately went to my place and started demo-ing vocals. For the most part, since day 1, everything has happened very organically without any of us really having to talk about what we’re doing much. It’s really based around letting the impulses out, which leads to a very fluid and collaborative process. It doesn’t hurt that we’re always blowing each other away with what’s brought to the table.
VM: As a new band, what are some challenges you have encountered in making your new album, Special Victim? What do you hope to establish with the album?
BK:As far as challenges, there haven’t been many in regards to producing the material. The more challenging part in my opinion was trying to simultaneously write and at the same, get to know each other. We all come from different places, but we’re all invested and ready to continue to move forward as fast as possible.
Angie Kang [singer]: The day after our debut EP release show, we drove up to Dallas to record the album. We recorded in four days during a storm that flooded the recording studio where we were planning to sleep. I had a sore throat, so I had quite a bit of anxiety since it was my first time in a real studio. It’s not anything to lament about though, because it was so fun and the album turned out great. We can’t wait to get back to the studio to record again. I hope it reaches as many people as possible so that we can tour and play live.
VM: Your sound has been described as “controlled chaos.” Do you find that different styles come out in your work? If so, how do you incorporate the different styles. Specifically, which bands or songwriters inspire you?
BK: It’s controlled in the sense that while there is this very busy, sometimes angular element happening, there’s a pop sensibility which I think we all have. This also makes producing material a painless and fast experience. Like I said, we don’t have to talk about the actual music, because I believe that we’re just on the same page. We’re very fortunate. There’s never a concrete idea when we go into something. We rely on impulses and even sometimes accidents to inspire or ignite new ideas, which keeps us challenging ourselves without it being a chore. It’s much more exciting when it just happens naturally.
>Alton Jenkins [drummer]: One of my favorite songs for the longest time is “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin. I’d say my drumming is heavily inspired by melody and lots of movement and expression, opposed to being a constant anchor for the other instrumentation. Or maybe I’m using that as an excuse to mask my general hyperactivity. Regardless, I think we’re collectively trying make “new” music but without straining ourselves in the process.
>AK: We all have different tastes in music, which lends itself to the chaos, because we all write our own parts. I just like anything that sounds raw. I have a techno side project called Rare Species and DJ as Baby Bones. I grew up outside of Detroit, so that’s been a big part of my influences.
VM: There is so much energy in your music! What are some typical Future Death rituals before performing?
BK: We practice and rehearse a lot, as well as record every second of everything we do. So when it comes to performing, its just another day in the space.
AJ: Water, bananas…and about 10 minutes before a performance I typically get, only mildly, agitated, uncharacteristically less talkative and withdrawn with my demeanor and try to keep distance. It’s something that developed naturally even when I started drumming at 17. I think it’s my way to channel whatever emotion/energy I was feeling when writing the songs originally. OTHERWISE I’m very kind, social and love to be with people, friends, whoever.
AK: We do what Snoop Dogg does.
VM: This kind of music can really incite some high emotions. How did your audience respond at South by Southwest? Any extreme – positive or negative – reactions?
BK: We did get a lot of great feedback – no negative responses. SXSW is so saturated and busy, the best you can really hope for as a new band is that they remember who you were. There’s just so much going on, we really just try to enjoy being a part of it and hope to reach out to new people.
AJ: A lot of energy is projected in our performance. For the people who hear us for the first time, I’ve noticed an introspective and focused, sometimes confused look on their face. For those who are familiar with us, it appears obvious who they are; tend to freak out/mosh and ride whatever wave we’re on at the moment. It’s cool to know someone’s perception of what they’re listening to has changed from start to the end of our set. These are things people have expressed to me, post show. And I can relate.
AK: We met a lot of people who have been supporting us since we really started putting our material out there, specifically our friends at Portals who put on an excellent showcase of their favorite artists. Right after we played the last note, everyone started bugging out to Future’s “Move That Dope.”
VM: What was it like playing at SXSW, given the fact that you guys are already Austin-based? Is it still such a surprise to find the growing number of participants taking over your town? How do you think the festival has changed over the years?
AJ: Playing SXSW, to me, is always awesome. It’s a rare chance to meet and witness bands from around the world that you’d otherwise not get a chance to see so easily. It’s a cool time to connect with strangers, which makes it easier to book tours that are more suitable with artists you enjoy. So it’s not a surprise to see more people flock here each year. The entire city jams up, and there’s a show/party happening in every building and every house on every corner. It’s nuts. A lot of locals, and some bands, leave town to avoid the madness. But I’m into to. One thing I’ve seen change over the years at SXSW is the increase in corporate presence. There’s even a 50 foot tall Dorito’s bag downtown that sponsors a mega event with really well known artists. I’m cool with it. Because even though that’s there, I can still easily disappear to DIY and/or unofficial shows that I’m more familiar with and can afford.
AK: We played three unofficial shows, because all of us had to work that week. That’s the paradox of living in Austin during SXSW; there’s so much business brought to the city that your day jobs usually need you to work extra hours. It’s always nice to see your friends come to town, so you want to have some time to hang out. I took it easy this year and was quite grateful the week after.
VM: Did any of you have any “weird” Austin moments at SXSW?
AJ: I met Lady Gaga for 2.5 seconds. Her friend/bodyguard? was dressed like Wonder Woman. I also got to jam on this life sized cell phone beat-making app called “KEEZY” with Reggie Watts. It was totally sporadic and unintentional. I was finding myself in a lot of strange situations between playing Future Death shows. Mostly just running into and spending time with artists that I really like, which isn’t particularly “weird.” But was unique to my SXSW experience.
AK: I went to a New York vs. Texas underground boxing match where Mobb Deep and Mike Jones performed. It was so far away from downtown that only about 40 people showed up. Everyone was yelling at the DJ, because he kept screwing up; it was so funny.
VM: What are Future Death’s future plans?
BK: Right now we’re getting ready for the release of Special Victim May 27 and lining up a tour for this summer. Again, we’re such a new band and have only been able to play Texas. The following months will see a lot of Future Death touring the country. We have release shows in Brooklyn in May, then hope to be on tour within the next couple months.
VM: What advice can you give to bands or songwriters that are just developing?
BK: Well, focus on your craft. And give in to your impulse. Its usually the more exciting thing you have kicking around anyway….
AJ: Create music for yourself primarily. That’s it. The rest of the “stuff” can come into place if you hope to make a career out of being an artist. But if that doesn’t work out, at least you can be happy with and totally relate to what you’ve made as an artist.
AK: Work with people who have mutual respect for you.
Nikki grew up in an imitation German town in Georgia by the name of Helen. It wasn’t until middle school that she started to get interested in the arts: painting, music, and writing. She wrote in her diary, sketched in art class and listened to regretful music. By high school, her tastes became a little more refined. She found Fiona Apple, Lou Reed and Giant Drag, and they remain her favorites in college. She was accepted to the University of Georgia in 2012 and is currently majoring in English. Upon moving to Athens from a town with more trees than people, Nikki was a bit overwhelmed. However, there is certainly no lack of inspiration in Athens, and she appreciates its love for the arts and its service as a platform.