A Chat With: Future Thieves
Nashville quartet Future Thieves have been turning heads since the release of their debut album Horizon Lines in 2015. One listen to their debut album's title track or their latest single "Sucker" and you'll find yourself struggling to get the song out of your head. The band have brought their indie rock tunes laced with sticky, pop melodies around the country this year, performing at major festivals and even venturing over to Europe at one point. When the band stopped in St. Louis last month to perform at Loufest, we sat down with lead singer Elliot Collett and guitarist Austin McCool to catch up with the group. Elliot and Austin talk everything from recording at Sonic Ranch to pizza preferences and their favorite things to do in Chicago. To hear about all that and to find out when we'll have new music from them, tune in now to our chat with Future Thieves!
ANCHR Magazine: What do you guys remember as your first musical memory that inspired you to either start writing or playing an instrument?
Elliot Collett: Mine was, in like 2007, I went and saw Ryan Adams in Cleveland, Ohio. My mom took me and some friends, and I’d never seen any type of live music like that. He played for like three hours. After that show, I was like I’d love to play live music...make my own music.
Austin McCool: I’ve actually told this story recently...But when i was a kid, I think I was 10 years old, my neighbor was a drummer and he showed me a lot of cool music. He showed me like The Hives and The Vines and Brand New. We faked a concert in my garage. We had like soil bins where we were playing drums. I was playing a tennis racket as a fake guitar, plugged into a box. It was...I don’t know. Our parents and grandparents were watching us, and I was like ok, I wanna do this for real! Pick up something with strings...
AM: Very cool, so fast forwarding a bit... You guys played some new songs today and you’re working on a new album. How’s that going? Is it done being written and recorded?
Elliot Collett: It’s definitely written. It’s about 80% recorded. We’ve gotta do some vocals and some other stuff on it. We started back in March and we’ve toured a lot since then, so kind of had to put it off a bit. Now we’re back home for a bit so we’re gonna finish it up.
Austin McCool: We’ve toured on the songs though. We’ve played pretty much all of the songs live, so you kind of learn how to put it down.
AM: Where do you guys record?
Elliot Collett: We recorded most of the record for two weeks down at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX. Which is close to El Paso.
AM: What made you guys decide on that space?
Austin McCool: It’s so awesome!
Elliot Collett: Yeah, it’s great. The largest residential recording studio in the world. Like you sleep there, and they feed you.
Austin McCool: It’s on a 300-no,3,0000 Acre pecan farm! Right next to the border of Mexico.
AM: Oh so did you get some pecan pie and all that?
Austin McCool: Oh my god, yes! We did! It’s super cool though.
Elliot Collett: Super vibey.
Austin McCool: They put you in a house, where you’re like staying by yourself. It’s just…The Head and the Heart did music there. Hippo Campus...
Elliot Collett: Portugal the Man!
AM: Do they have in-house engineers there, or did you bring along a producer?
Elliot Collett: We had a guy helping us, but we have a producer. Chuck Tones was the engineer.
AM: Any good stories about the recording process then while you were there?
Elliot Collett: We went to an old water tower and recorded some stuff down inside of a water tower.
Austin McCool: Some vocals and guitar through an old abandoned water tower. A mic through the top!
AM: That’s so cool! So you said you’ve been playing most of these songs live then--
Austin McCool: 8 of the 12.
AM: Has it been easy to transcribe them all to the live sense then since recording them?
Elliot Collett: Yeah, for us. Sometimes no one’s heard em so we can change them around.
AM: What have been some of your favorites to play?
Austin McCool: "On the Run"!
Elliot Collett: Yeah “On the Run” is really fun to play live. All of them...we love moving on and playing the newest stuff so everything we play that’s new, we love it.
AM: So you guys have a live album too. What made you decide to release that between the two studio albums? Any other artists with a live album that might have inspired that?
Austin McCool: We really didn’t intend to put out a live album. It was a Youtube streaming thing with a studio, and the studio was so nice we were like, who cares! Let’s just throw this out there. It actually ends up being really cool because we didn’t know it at the time, but four of those songs that aren’t on Horizon Line are also not on the second studio record. So they’re only released on that live record.
AM: Cool, then speaking of playing live...You’ve toured a bunch in the summer, even coming to Chicago to play Township. What were some of the tour highlights?
Elliot Collett: It was great! Most of it was awesome. We toured with our buddy Guthrie Brown. He lives in Nashville, is from Montana. That tour was great cause he is so good. Nick and Gianni played with him most of the tour. People came out, and Chicago is always great. It was packed!
Austin McCool: I’ve got a ton of friends in Chicago!
Elliot Collett: We had just gotten done touring in Europe so coming back and doing a tour in the states was something we were a little more familiar with, so it was a little easier.
AM: What are some of your favorite things to do in Chicago then?
Austin McCool: Portillo's! I went to school at Purdue University, so my junior and senior year, two of my three roommates were from Chicago/Glen Ellyn kind of area. So they knew about Portillo's. On a lazy Sunday, we’d just drive to Chicago to get Portillo's. But we also went to the Chicago Music Exchange. I’ve been there so many times...Giordanos was good too!
AM: Are you a deep dish person?
Elliot Collett: I’m not a deep dish person. I like New York Style.
AM: Do you have any favorite festival moments then from the couple you’ve done this summer?
Austin McCool: Today was awesome!
Elliot Collett: We got to play Bonnaroo and Forecastle.
AM: Any good festival stories?
Austin McCool: One of my favorite moments was standing side stage for Local Natives and Alabama Shakes.
Elliot Collett: There was like a massage tent at Kaboo festival in San Diego. There were two seats and Austin was next to Andrew McMahon, so got a massage with him. He loves Something Corporate.
Austin McCool: I’ve loved Andrew McMahon since Something Corporate, so it was really cool I got a massage next to him. We also met Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray that day.
Elliot Collett: He played at Kaboo Fest as Sugar Ray.
AM: That's amazing. So what would you say is your festival advice?
Elliot Collett: Indulge in free drinks and use the air conditioned bathrooms when you can find them.
AM: As an artist that’s possible!
Austin McCool: Don’t die! Water, water, water.
Elliot Collett: I need water right now.
AM: What's something about the Nashville music scene that you guys really love? I talked to Ron Gallo yesterday about it a bit. Do you know him?
Austin McCool: Oh yeah! We had a taco with him the other day.
Elliot Collett: He’s super cool! The music scene in Nashville is just great. We don’t even see country music. We’re all in the same world of good music.
Austin McCool: There’s so many good places to go.
AM: Where would you recommend to go and see bands?
Elliot Collett: The Basement is a good place to go to see actual music. Basement East is great. 12th and Porter is great. There’s so many! 3rd and Lindsley is great.
Austin McCool: It’s all spread out, but you know what you’re looking for.
Elliot Collett: If our buddies are playing, we’ll go. If not we just stay home. Something good going on...that’s where we go.
AM: Any new albums out that you guys can’t stop listening to?
Austin McCool: The War on Drugs Record is incredible. The new Brand New record is unbelievable. The new National record that just came out.
Elliot Collett: Anderson Paak is what I throw on whenever I’m in my car
Austin McCool: There’s a new Boyz II Men Song. Big Boi has a new song called “Chocolate” which is our favorite song of 2017. It’s unbelievable. The new Hippo Campus record that came out this year is great!
AM: Do you guys do podcasts at all on the road?
Elliot Collett: We listen to podcasts a lot, yeah! We listened to S-Town. We love S-Town. We listen to Alec Baldwin’s podcast. It’s called Here’s the Thing.
Austin McCool:There’s a podcast called Tuesdays with Stories! It’s two comedians from New York, Mark Normand and Joe List. One of them opened for Louis CK and one of them opened for Amy Schumer, and they mentioned us on their podcast. We sent them a care package of t-shirts and stuff.
Elliot Collett: They’re super cool!
AM: So when can we expect to hear the new tunes from you?
Austin McCool: Early next year, Spring-ish. We're gonna skip the holiday rush.