Brooklyn-based indie pop band Future Generations released Landscape via Frenchkiss Records earlier this month and excuse us, but we can’t stop having it on repeat since it dropped. When we were approached with their music video “All The Same,” we wondered if Landscape would continue to bring more of that sound that caught our attention. It did. As Mike noted in our conversation with him down below, this album was pure experimentation and it worked. Future Generations are on tour right now. But for now, check out our conversation with Mike Sansevere (synthesizer, guitar, percussion).
Interview by Camille Espiritu, transcribed by Ashley Buyalo for The Young Folks.
The Young Folks: Let’s kick things off by telling us a bit about the group. How did Future Generations form?
Mike Sansever: Three of us went to college together. We just happen to be in the same dorm our freshmen year. We found our way making music within a week of being at school. We were just doing it for fun, putting it on the internet, and then our label found us (Frenchkiss Records). They were like, “You guys are in school, you should make music for us.” I had played in a band with our bass player so he wound up joining. We found our drummer on craigslist almost two years now. He moved in with everyone within a week or within a month of meeting us.
TYF: When you mentioned meeting up in the dorm, was that a luck of the draw or did you know them prior to the dorm life?
MS: No, completely random [during] freshmen year. It was, I guess, fate? Our singer is from Nashville, I’m from Jersey, the guitarist is from Long Island.
TYF: Oh, cool. Was there a conversation about being in a band or how did that start?
MS: Not really. It was kinda just like, “Oh, you make music. I make music. This guy makes music. Let’s just make some stuff.” Our singer Eddie is the songwriter and everyone would bring in ideas, he would flush them out. All of a sudden we had songs. So we thought, “Oh, let’s just put it on the internet.” We hadn’t really played shows. It was more of for fun.
TYF: How did your record label find you?
MS: we were on Hype Machine and a lot of small blogs were picking up one of our singles a couple year ago.
TYF: How did you guys come up with the name of the band?
MS: We originally went by a different name. We went by The Suits. [laughs] And there was another band called The Suits, so there was a bunch of lawyers. They were not gonna let us have that name. It took a couple of months in a group chat just throwing out names. Future Generations was one of the first ones that came on. Three months later, we needed a name. We thought, “Actually, this is the best one we came up with.”
TYF: What were other names you were thinking of?
MS: We had one, it was a joke: Bagel Boys. Our guitar player would say that was a serious contender but I think the rest of us would disagree. [laughs] We all liked Future Generations. We thought it encompassed the kind of music we made and the hopefulness of our music and the energy.
TYF: How would you describe the music scene in Brooklyn? How do you differentiate Brooklyn’s music scene from the rest?
MS: I don’t know, it’s tough with the scene. We have a couple of friends that are Brooklyn-based bands and there are a lot of smaller scenes within the scene. I don’t really know how we differentiate ourselves. I think we kind of pride ourselves on a really energetic live show. I kind of think that’s what helps us stand out or make us feel like we stand out. [laughs]
TYF: Going from three members to now five members in the band, did anything change in the creative process when it came to writing songs, creating the rhythm, etc.?
MS: Oh yeah, absolutely. Especially this record, I think everyone had a hand in every song. We all had our specialties but everyone was kind of in the process for the whole time. We would find days to write music, we would all be in the room together. Everyone would be bouncing ideas off each other. That kind of continued into the studio. It’s not just one person. Eddie, our singer, is the main songwriter and the “guy.” But, we were all contributing ideas. in terms of sounds, rhythms, arrangements, it’s pretty democratic.
TYF: When it comes to the writing experience, do you ever experience writer’s block?
MS: [laughs] I think Eddie definitely does. He is the only one that writes lyrics and he 100% leaves all the lyrics to the very end. He’ll have the melody for two months. It’s just finding the right topic or the right story that fits the music. He definitely has writer’s block. I don’t write but I’m gonna critique him and say yeah, he always has writer’s block.
TYF: Let’s talk about the new album, Landscape. For those who have yet to hear it, can you tease a bit as to what they can expect?
MS: If you liked the first album, I think you’ll like the second one. There’s definitely a lot of growth on the album. We expanded upon our arrangements. There’s a lot of interesting parts and we worked with a great producer, Justin Garrish, and his assistant, Dillon. They really helped us flush out the sound. It’s an even bigger record than the last one. More dynamic but still the same fun, energetic indie pop that people know us for.
TYF: What was it like having your work produced by Justin Gerrish?
MS: It was so super sick working with Justin and his assistant. We did 11 songs in 11 days with them. He had a bunch of old vintage equipment and we were toying around with ideas. They really wanted us to try out whatever we wanted so it was a lot of experimentation. At the end of the day, they made the mixes super phat.
TYF: You guys just released a music video for “All the Same” can you walk us through the concept?
MS: We just wanted to do something that was kind of fun and retro. You start off in the office scene, kinda grim. Then there’s this really cool domineering woman that doesn’t want us to have fun but we have fun anyway. There’s a big party. I don’t know, we just wanted to have something lighthearted and upbeat and vibrant. I’m not really a visual person but I was super stoked when it came out.
TYF: How much creative leverage did you guys have with how the video was going to turn out?
MS: We had an idea and then we met our directors, Kenneth Polyak and Drew Lewis. We gave them the words and emotions we wanted to convey. They came to us with a treatment idea and we thought, “Yeah, this is exactly what we’re going for.”
TYF: Let’s wrap things up and talk about your upcoming tour. Your tour kicks off right after the album releases, what are you looking forward to the most about going on tour?
MS: Just playing for people. It’s really cool to be in a new city, explore a little, and meet fans. I think fan engagement is a super rewarding part of touring. We really enjoy putting faces to people that listen to our music. Oh, and eat. We’re really excited to eat food.
TYF: What is life on the road like? How do you guys kill time in between shows?
MS: Touring is just waiting a really long time for a little bit of work. You spend like seven hours to play 45 minutes. We previously did a two and half week run. And, we were making up a country song in the car. Writing about the cliches of country music in the style of country music. We do stupid stuff like what you would do with your friends if you were seven hours in a van with kind of working air conditioning.
TYF: Lastly, what are the top 5 things you’ll be bringing with you on the road?
MS: Okay. So I’m going to try to speak for everyone but I’m probably not gonna hit it. But, definitely skateboards, headphones (so you can block people out), some sort of water bottle (hydration is essential on the road), a camera, and a football (there’s so much time to kill).
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Future Generations are on tour now. Check out their tour dates on their website to see if they’ll be stopping by a city near you.