While Baltimore-based synthpop band Future Islands have been around since 2006, the band remained underground indie raconteurs until they had their true breakthrough with their 2014 album, Singles, shortly after signing with British indie label 4AD. That breakthrough culminated on March 3, 2014 with their network television debut on “The Late Show with David Letterman” where they performed “Seasons (Waiting on You).”
Buoyed by lead singer Samuel Herring’s powerful performance, along with the sleek stylings of keyboardist and programmer Gerrit Welmers and guitarist/bassist William Cashion, the appearance was an internet success and translated into millions of views on YouTube. The future was bright for Future Islands, but every future has its past. Here are five things you didn’t know about Future Islands.
Cashion, Herring and Welmers met while studying art at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. The trio, along with musicians Adam Beeby and Kymia Nawabi, formed a band called Art Lord & The Self Portraits in 2003. The group disbanded in 2005, with Cashion, Herring and Welmers going on to form Future Islands.
In an interview, William Cashion explained the story behind the name Future Islands. “The name is meant to be vague. (...) We were either gonna be called Already Islands or Future Shoes. Because, seriously, you don't know what future shoes look like, but you know you'd want a pair! (you know?). So after deciding Already Shoes was a bad name, we combined them to Future Islands. That's the boring truth, sorry!”
3. “Seasons (Waiting on You)” was named the best song of 2014 by a number of media outlets
Perhaps helped along by their amazing performance of the song on Letterman, “Seasons (Waiting on You)” was named the best song of 2014 by Pitchfork Media, the Pazz & Jop critic poll and Consequence of Sound.
In 2016, Future Islands’ song “Swept Inside” appeared in an episode of the AMC series “Fear the Walking Dead.” The song is from the band’s 2010 album, In Evening Air. While the album didn’t get much attention at the time, “Swept Inside’s” resurgence on the TV show no doubt helped to turn on viewers to Future Islands’ older material.
5. The band has a number of side and solo projects
Welmers’ solo project since 2006 is called Moss of Aura. Cashion and Herring formed a group called the Snails in 2008 with members of other Baltimore bands. In 2012, Cashion formed a group called Peals with former Double Dagger bassist, Bruce Willen. Herring is also a rapper, performing and recording under the name Hemlock Ernst.