After Letterman, a New Future

When Future Islands appeared on David Letterman's "Late Show" last month, the blistering performance of "Seasons (Waiting On You)" went viral, amassing more than 1.3 million views on YouTube to date. "We went out there and did what we do every night on tour," said William Cashion, the band's bass and guitar player, during a tour stop in Billings, Mont. "We've been at it a long time."

Fans will get to see for themselves when Future Islands plays Webster Hall on Wednesday. Its following is a growing one, thanks in part to the Letterman performance, a relentless touring schedule (130 to 160 shows a year, said its lead singer, Samuel Herring ) and a new album, titled "Singles." Since its official formation in 2006, the band has toured almost nonstop, racking up over 800 live shows along the way.


"The live show's so visceral. It smashes you over the head," said Ben Gaffin, who signed the band last November for the indie label 4AD. "The record's thought-provoking, and there's a lot of depth. And it's an opportunity to hear the words and the lyrics and get the stories."

Only in 2013 did Mr. Herring, Mr. Cashion and keyboardist Gerrit Welmers take time off to return to Baltimore, where they're currently based, to work on "Singles," an album they wrote and recorded on their own dime before signing with 4AD.

The trio has been working together since 2003, when they were in college in Greenville, N.C. Then they were part of Art Lord & the Self-Portraits, a tongue-in-cheek "art band" that frequently performed in costumes.

Dan Deacon, a fellow Baltimore-based musician who toured with the band, describes Mr. Herring's intense onstage persona as a "vessel" for the music: "The stage needs a presence. And Sam's performance is definitely a representation of each track's different energy."

Beyond the TV appearances and new album, 2014 has been a year of several breakthroughs for Future Islands. Earlier this month, the band played at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for the first time, and before that, it received a Grulke Prize for a "developing U.S. act" at Austin's South by Southwest Festival, an award designated by 24 industry professionals for promising musicians.

"In modern times, too many acts are thrown into the spotlight unready, or written off without being given a chance to find their own voice. Future Islands have always been a unique band, and they have definitely grown and developed from recording to recording," said James Minor, the festival's general manager. "There was great excitement around everything they did at SXSW this year."

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