On June 29th, Chicago’s Airstream Futures made a quick trip over to the east coast for two nights of gigs with The Jukebox Romantics. Punknews’ Jeff Sorley caught up with the band for an impromptu, and surprisingly conversational, interview to discuss their new EP, touring the UK, and other fun tidbits.
Hello. This is Jeff at Punknews.org and I'm here with Airstream Futures from Chicago. First to start out, we'll have a go round and introduce yourselves. We'll start on my left.
Megan: My name is Megan and I play bass in Airstream.
Devon: I'm Devon and I sing.
Mike: I'm Mike and I play the drums.
Jeff: I'm Jeff and I play guitar.
So, Jeff's the easiest one for me to remember, because that's my name. (laughter) I'm really bad at names, but great with faces. We discussed it briefly, but you guys drove all the way out from Chicago for this gig and the one up in New York is that correct?
Jeff and Devon: Yes.
And so how was the drive?
Jeff: It was nice. It was long, but it was nice.
Did you go straight through or…
Jeff: …More or less.
Mike: (groans) No. We stayed last night…
Jeff: We only drove a couple hours last night.
Mike: But we made it to Ohio.
So… cross the border, got out of Indiana.
Jeff and Mike: Yes.
Which is a good thing. And so you're playing tonight. You're at the Mill Hill basement in Trenton and then tomorrow up in New York. Are there any other gigs lined up?
Jeff: It's just the two.
OK. So I guess I'm going to dive into it here. And what I want to talk about first is the new single coming out, the two songs "If I" and "PR Nightmares." Now interestingly these are coming out of Little Rocket Records out of the U.K. and I was curious if you could tell us a little bit about the process of meeting up with those guys and what happened to have them be the ones to release this vinyl?
Jeff: We did a tour of the UK last May and the last show that we played was in Sunderland and that's kind of like Graeme (Philskirke) and all those guys' bar or whatever. And it ended up just being like this awesome, awesome show and we hung out with everybody all night and that's when the idea came up with the single. I mean Graeme was at the show and is like "Hey, you know we should work together" and we were working on the album that just recently came out on Paper and Plastic so we're like “Well we could do a single together.” And so that was just kind of the catalyst for it.
The first album is Spirale Infernale. And then you also released your kind of special edition cassette tape. Now this single being on Little Rocket, is this a one-off thing or is Paper and Plastic… are you guys still with them?
Jeff: We're not exclusively signed to anyone. So there's like there's no bad blood or anything. Oh no that's nothing like that at all. Our album wasn't even out when we talked with Graeme about doing the single so it was like it kind of overlapped a little bit but it wasn't anything like that. Vinnie (Fiorello) kind of came in when we first started and it was really awesome. I think we probably played maybe five shows before he signed on to do our album. And so you know it's just been a long process of getting that record out there. When we toured England last year, the record hadn’t even come out. We had just finished it so it hadn't even come off the press. And so when we met Graeme and they were so excited about our band and asked that we start talking about working together. So then it was like well we'll do this single. We were kind of like: the album will come out and then do this other single and then you know kind of go from there. (Laughter as we are briefly interrupted) This is one of my best friends and she just randomly surprised me. (Jeff takes a moment to catch up with an old friend from Chicago who has shown up at the venue)
So aside from the new single, do you have any other music in the works?
Jeff: We already have 80 percent of second album recorded. So we're working on finishing that up. And honestly I mean Mike and I more or less fleshed out the third album as well with the music, so we kind of had a stride with the song writing. It's just been stockpiling the songs.
Any hints on an album title for that.
Jeff: For the second or the third one? (laughter)
Let's go with the second… continue with the French, if you will?
Mike: Yes, actually I can tell you what my cousin… (a second interruption as another old friend arrives)
You have a lot of friends in Trenton.
Jeff: There's a lot of people that have rolled out tonight.
Mike: …so I have a cousin in Paris. We've been kind of rolling with French titles with no reason other than the first one worked out pretty cool. So this second full length… may… be called "Ils assurant grave" which means more or less "They Really Rock."
So that's maybe the potential new title of the new album. Going back to Spirale Infernale. Now you guys had Derek (Grant) and Rodrigo (Palma). How did you get in touch with them regarding this?
Jeff: I played in Dead Ending with Derek so he’s one of my best friends and we grew up together more or less so it's like that was a no brainer. I lived in Detroit for years and that's how Rodrigo and we became friends. I mean back when he played in a band called Empire State Games like way before that Saves The Day and stuff like that. And Rodrigo and I worked together production-wise on some other records for some bands that he was working with because I worked at a studio recording engineer. So him and I realized we worked well together in that kind of capacity and it just made sense for this.
There's already lots of stories about how the band kind of came together especially your kind of vocals in a recording session or something that kind of sold it?
Devon: I had just recorded vocals for another band and that's how (Jeff) got interested in seeing what I was up to and what I was doing. But we became friends and would hang out and have lunch and talk about doing a band for like a year or so over bloody marys and french fries on my lunch breaks at my office job (laughter).
So then you just eventually slotted into what became Airstream Futures. (to Jeff and Mike) Now you two have been kind of working together quite a long time.
Mike: Yeah. Something like fifteen…
Jeff: …sixteen years.
So I think it's safe to say you two have played a long time together, especially since you said you have the fleshings third album already prepared and you're sitting on more music that you can gradually get out without kind of putting together a huge 30 song album one time…
Jeff: They'll be staggered. (laughter)
Devon: I'm surprised you haven't killed each other yet! (laughter) But you guys love each other. Being in bands together for 15 years and being friends and nothing bad has happened.
Mike: Well you weren't there for the first thirteen of those years. (laughter).
I moved out of the Chicago area in '96, so I lost track of some of the bands that came up, if you can remind me what your previous bands, because I know The Bomb's in there. The Methadones are in there.
Jeff: So I mean what what bands have played in? There's like a laundry list.
Jeff: Well, I mean Mike and I played in The Bomb together and then I played guitar in Noise By Numbers with Dan Vapid, who was in The Methadones with Mike. I play in Dead Ending with Derek and Vic Bondi. I play guitar for All Eyes West, as well. That's like the current stuff. There's a lot of other bands, its not even worth going down the line (laughter). Those are the current bands.
Meghan, How did you get in the band?
Megan: So I was the new addition. So these guys have been jamming for a while and they needed a bass player so they were holding auditions and we had a mutual friend, his name is Justin, and he thought I would be a good fit to audition so he kind of connected us. So I went to audition and, yeah it was just connection right off the bat. We jammed together really well and had fun together. So, yeah… that's kinda how it happened.
OK, who here's from Vegas? (Jeff and Devon raise their hands) Mike, you are then from…?
Mike: Rhode Island.
And Megan you are…?
You ARE from Chicago, what part of Chicago?
Megan: Its called Manhattan, it's a suburb in the southwest.
OK, I'm from Crystal Lake.
Devon: You're from Crystal Lake?!? What high school did you go to?
Devon: You went to Crystal Lake South? What year did you graduate?
Devon: Oh… no, no. You probably don't know…
Wait, Who do YOU know? (at this point the interview digresses a bit into Devon’s ex-boyfriend and former bandmates)
Mike: You graduated high school in ‘93?
Mike: You look younger. I graduated in ‘89 so it's odd.
You figure we’d look the same. (laughter)
Mike: Yeah, I would've thought, like…
I've been out at the community pool a lot lately with my daughter. She's discovered a pool that she could swim in because it gets warm here, unlike in the UK. So maybe it’s the sun? (laughter).
So you toured last year in the UK. Regretfully, I missed you. I knew you were playing, I knew you were coming around, but I missed you. So how did that go aside from obviously meeting Graeme and the Little Rocket people?
Mike: It was the best tour I've ever done. The crowds were really good but the most important thing to me is having people that I've never travelled with before, getting together and having such a great time and being comfortable with one another and experiencing amazing shows in amazing places with amazing poeple.
Devon: The hospitality was out of this world. Every town we showed up in, every venue that we played a really cool scene. The people who were making it all happen and were so hospitable to all the bands. So many venues had food and drinks and DIY stuff, and were also just like really cool people. We played a couple of shows that we're raising money for homelessness, that was in Scotland…?
Jeff: In Dundee.
Yeah, you guys played Conroy's Basement, yeah? That's like the Make-That-A-Take Records guys.
Jeff: Yeah, Derek (Johnston)- what a good dude!
Devon: And just like that, and dudes like that, and how many people that had us stay. It was absolutely fantastic.
It's really great scene there and I can see it like that seems to be the impression from a lot bands that come over- everyone seems to really care a lot right now. And I think there it’s resurgent.
Mike: Sunderland was kind of the pinnacle. It was our last show, and we weren't quite sure… Jeff and I had toured the UK before, but we'd never been to Sunderland. So we didn't know what to expect and when we showed up with the guys from Leatherface are there, and people are making us curry. Everybody greeted us, literally, with a giant hug. There's a photo online of a bunch of people associated with the bar and the scene they just hung out all day, and it was brilliant. We played with Bastard Face, which was my favorite other band we played with. Everybody was just so sweet and people kind of warned us… I think our driver was "I don't know… Sunderland, man… it’s kind of sketchy" (laughter) and we never left the bar. So it was never a big a deal.
Jeff: It was such a nice way to end the tour. It was like the amount of support and just how excited everybody was… we're like "We don't want to leave" and we have to fly out.
Devon: When we go back next year we hope to play a lot of the same places that we played before.
You likely will. You know there aren't a lot but the ones you’re likely to hit are the good ones.
Moving on, we'll kind of end where we started with the new 7". Graeme was nice enough to send me a digital copy to listen to and as with everything else it’s… I dig it A LOT.
"PR Nightmares." Is this in any way kind of really fed by experiences?
Devon: So… "PR Nightmares" was inspired a lot… I mean I have some social anxiety and I have stage fright a lot. And so there's a little bit of that in there. But really a lot of it was kind of inspired by the stories of these big celebrities, the big musicians, specially like Amy Winehouse. And there’s actually a clip in there from a TMZ interview where they interviewed a bunch people and asked if Amy Winehouse… if they thought she would be remembered as a singer or as a junkie, and 72 percent said she would be remembered as a junkie. So it was kind of going that direction with the lyrics of it. It's like people wanting to see other people fail or finding it amusing that someone is hurting and in pain and suffering because it's in the news and it's celebrity gossip… entertainment. Someone's nightmare is entertainment for other people. So that's really where it came from.
Well, I think that's just about it. Thank you very much Airstream Futures for the interview. The new single comes Out July 16 on Little Rocket Records as a limited, 300 print edition vinyl (ed.- it’s out now).