We Love Music: The Future Laureates

Photo courtesy of The Future Laureates

Imagine for a moment that you’re a class clown…but in a good way. You’re one of the nice guys who has a sense of humor. You also just so happen to play an instrument and sing on the side when you’re not making a wise-crack comment or hanging out with your pals. To me, this is the essence of what makes The Future Laureates work as a cohesive musical unit.

The Future Laureates are a five-piece folk-rock band out of Chicago that boasts the energy of a punk band with melodic hooks poised for pop success. The group started with three-founding members (Danny Surico on guitar/vocals, James Hyde on bass/vocals and Matthew Daigler on ukulele/vocals) and have only grown over time into what we now know as TFL.

This group of jovial rockers are making their second appearance at a D.C. rock club this coming Wednesday at The Velvet Lounge and took some time to chat with We Love DC via e-mail. Here are a few bits from that conversation:

Rachel: The Future Laureates hail from Chicago, the Windy City, what’s it like for you all when you hit the road and leave the comfort of home?  

The Future Laureates: You mean other than the hookers and blow?  Just kidding!  Our trips are usually pretty jovial and relaxed, and while our stays in new towns are shorter than we’d prefer, we are blessed to see and reconnect with friends and family and meet new friends who have been endlessly supportive.  We also have a rule that whoever sits bitch seat gets to choose the music in the TFL mystery van…so far that’s worked out pretty well!

Photo courtesy of The Future Laureates

R: Speaking of home: a band tends to turn into a family. To harp on that even more, your most recent album The Fortress Sessions was named after TFL’s “home” of sorts. How would you describe this family you’ve got going amongst yourselves and your fans? 

TFL: Oh man, it’s awesome.  Friends we haven’t seen in years due to distance will come out to shows and bring their friends.  Plus, we’re pretty hip among the over-80 and under-5 crowd.  My grandpa came to a show in Chicago last year…90 years young.

Matthew’s grandma, before she passed, was the first one out on the dance floor at our shows.  Matthew’s and my nieces like to bust a move to our song “Lovely.” Interestingly (not really proud of it), but we’re also popular among the 40 to 50-year-old, “random drunk dancing man” demographic.

At Summerfest this year, a middle-aged, sweaty dude, was loving our music…hard.  We even have video proof!  (See proof here.)  See him?!  He’s the sweaty man in the gray shirt who we had never met before, and he was getting down and dirty.  Also, that’s the third time that a middle-aged man has busted moves like no one’s watching at one of our festival gigs…must be our pheromones.

R: There’s a distinct folk-pop quality to your rock music that makes for a fun listening experience. Is this a sound that the band hoped to achieve with the new album and ever-changing live show or did the music evolve into the sound that currently defines TFL stylistically overtime?  

TFL: I think a little of both, but more the latter. A good friend and mentor told me early on that the most important thing you can do as a band is “find your sound.”  Around the time we were finishing this last record, I told him “Y’know, it’s taken us 4 years, but I think we’re starting to find a sound that is ours.”  And he replied, “That’s great.  Now you can grow within it.”  So that’s what we’re trying to do with the music we’re writing–accentuate the things we do well, while keeping an open mind to new arrangements and new collaborations with our ever-growing network of talented musicians and friends.

R: You’ll be coming to D.C. on tour this Fall. You’ve also been here once before at the Rock and Roll Hotel. What was that experience like for you and what are you most looking forward to the second time around at the Velvet Lounge? 

TFL: Unreal.  Probably the highlight of our last East Coast trip last year.  We played with our friends Kingsley Flood and also got to share the stage with Ugly Purple Sweater.  Really large, warm, and pumped up crowd and that venue is killer.  Also, that whole strip on H street is a lot of fun.  We went across the street to some club with some friends after the show and got our dance on.  With this upcoming gig at Velvet Lounge, it’s a smaller room so we’re looking forward to packing that place in and joining the stage with some truly talented DC locals.

R: If you could tell our readers in D.C. why TFL is worth checking out live what would you tell them?

TFL: I’d tell them there’s a palpable, punk-rock energy that’s infectious at our shows.  There is no 4th wall for us, we really work to engage the crowd and that’s such an important part of our live shows.  We really feed off the energy of people in the audience.  Even if you don’t like our style of music, I think you’ll have fun at our shows.  One guy told us after a show that we sound like “The Mars Volta, but happy.”  That’s not really true or even possible, really…but we took it as a compliment!

The Future Laureates are performing at The Velvet Lounge (near the U Street Metro station) Wednesday October 3. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m. 18+ $10 / 21+ $8

Rachel moved to DC in the fall of 2005 to study Journalism and Music at American University. When she’s not keeping up with the latest Major League Baseball news, she works on making music as an accomplished singer-songwriter and was even a featured performer/speaker at TEDxDupont Circle in 2012. Rachel has also contributed to The Washington Examiner and MASN Sports’ Nationals Buzz as a guest blogger. See why she loves DC. E-Mail: rachel@welovedc.com.

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