For better, worse and everything in between, it’s quite easy to diminish into a combination of yawning and nodding whenever someone starts going on about how “awesome” a local band is. The emergence of fresh local talent – if one’s own skepticism doesn’t block such a discovery, that is – is a fabulous treat.
Future Primitives, a Birmingham-based “psychedelic garage space rock” five-piece, surely seem to fall under the “fabulous treat” category. Their site bio claims a musical desire to “dissolve the ego and invoke the soul,” which quite reasonably sounds like an invitation to remove all your clothes when attending one of their shows.
At any rate, I reached out to frontman Shane Wynn via email and ended up discussing the business of art, the energy of the Who, and your grandfather.
Weld: How has your outlook on “the industry of art” changed since you first started writing and performing your own music? Do you feel jaded, or have you maintained a positive outlook?
Shane Wynn: The only thing we’re jaded about is the “industry” aspect of music. It is hardly necessary to commodify what is at or near free. The middlemen, which were the big labels and distributors, have essentially been eliminated, and now we’re in a kind of uncertain space where no one knows what will happen next with “the business.” The good thing about having a record label, though, is that you have people whose sole purpose is to get out and promote your record. If you don’t have the means to do that yourself, then it can feel like you’re lost in a digital wilderness.
From a purely musical perspective, we’re positive: the best music ever made is being made now, and the music scene in Birmingham is the best it’s ever been.
Weld: Which song from the Future Primitives catalog do you feel best represents the tonal intent of the band? What’s your “flagship” song, so to speak?
SW: “Pop’s War” is a great representation of us in sound and vision. It captures our punk and garage rock roots. It uses war and survival as a metaphor for being in a band and holding it together. It’s also about realizing your heroes are just people like you, whether it’s your grandfather the war hero or Pete Townshend or John Lennon.
Weld: Name one album from your younger years that helped shape you, not only as an artist, but as a person.
SW: Who’s Next by the Who is an album we really identify with, [because of] the strength of the writing and the consistency of it. [Plus], it’s bookended by two of the greatest rock anthems ever. We dig anthems – songs people like to sing along to. As performers, we want to live up to bands like the Who and put on high-energy shows.
Weld: Name one album from recent years that you feel is currently shaping you as an artist/person.
SW: Lonerism by Tame Impala has had a great influence on the way we record. Lane, the bass player, has a studio in his house where we do all of our recording. Getting interesting sounds and creating a real space for the music is something that helps us communicate on a greater scale.
Weld: Birmingham’s musical landscape can be an exhaustively scattered environment for new and struggling artists – often difficult to navigate with any consistent success. Have you found this to be true for FP?
SW: For years, it seemed like punk and hardcore dominated the small original music scene in Birmingham. Those genres of music are great and all, but now there’s a wider spectrum of original sounds that you can hear, and there are more places to play. We’ve felt more welcomed here over the last year or two. The bottom line is, the more solidarity [that exists] between musicians, bands and venues, the better it will be for everyone involved. Support from the locals, mostly in the way of just showing up at local shows, would go a long way towards putting the Magic City on the musical map.
Weld: What have been your greatest Birmingham musical experiences, both as a member of FP and as a member of the audience at any given show?
SW: We walked into the Bottletree one night, didn’t even have to pay to get in, and caught this band called Sleepy Sun from California, and they just blew our minds. … They put on such a great show and there were only like 12 people there.
We played a show last year at a place called the Temple, which is a house where our guitarist Dan lives. We had psychedelic projections on us and it was just this heightened symbiotic experience with the crowd. Some of the most energetic shows in Birmingham are house parties.
Weld: Any Birmingham artists you are familiar with or enjoy?
SW: \\G.T.//, Grandaddy Ghostlegs, In Snow, Trouble the Waters, Secret Midnight Band, Them Natives, Onehundreds, Mandi Rae, The Hi-fidelics, Dirty Lungs…just to name a scant few we really like.
Cosmonaut on Vacation deserve a special mention. They hardly ever [play shows], but they made what we think is the best record ever (by a Birmingham band) last year called Let the Moment Land. Great songs recorded beautifully.
Future Primitives will play the Bottletree at 9 p.m. on Jan. 17 alongside KinZie and Linear Downfall. Be sure to catch them on Birmingham Mountain Radio’s Southbound Radio Show on Jan. 26, too. For more information, visit futureprimitivesmusic.com.