Future Misters chats about their experiences living, writing, and practicing together during the COVID-19 pandemic, and shares their predictions for the future of the DIY music scene.
You can keep up with what the band is doing next on Facebook and Instagram.
Matt Burdick: What’s up guys, this is Matt Burdick with WDBM – East Lansing and it is a very strange time for the music industry right now. So, I have Future Misters, a band from Grand Rapids here to talk a little bit about their experiences. Do you guys want to go ahead and introduce yourself?
Trevor Sharnas: I’m Trevor, I play guitar and sing.
Nick Buwalda: I’m Nick on bass.
Lewis Malone: I’m Lewis, I play guitar.
Ryan Fluke: Fluke, I hit the drums.
Matt Burdick: Sweet, so we’ll start out with just the basic question. I know the band hasn’t been around for like a super long time, how did you guys kind of just get started and gain momentum so fast in the Grand Rapids scene?
Trevor Sharnas: Well, we started back in 2017 with our original lineup, which was Berto – Alberto Gomez and Mason Vandyke and me and Fluke. And then both of them left, and Nick joined us in January of 2018, I think?
Nick Buwalda: Last year, 2019.
Trevor Sharnas: And then Lewis just joined last August. So yeah, here we are now.
Matt Burdick: Sweet, and then this is kind of a cliche question, but I’m always interested to hear the answers anyway. What would you guys name as like some of your biggest musical inspirations, influences?
Trevor Sharnas: I don’t know, it’s pretty, all across the board for us individually. I mean, for me, like I listen to a lot of like alternative rock, garage rock sort of stuff, like namely The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys obviously, but lately I’ve been getting into some Surf Curse and Bass Drum of Death.
Nick Buwalda: Big fan of the Beach Boys. Roy Orbison. A lot of the oldies.
Ryan Fluke: I listen to a lot of hip-hop or like modern metal music, kind of in between. I listen to some older music here and there, but I just like pretty much anything.
Lewis Malone: I listen to a mixture of pretty much everything. But lately it’s been more of the punkier scene and a lot of stuff, a lot of the English rock coming out of the UK right now I’ve been big into. Particularly IDLES.
Matt Burdick: Did you hear the new song? “Mr. Motivator” right?
Lewis Malone: Yes, I love it.
Matt Burdick: It’s cool , I’m a big IDLES fan too. So also, I know a handful of you guys are in another band called The Tube Socks, yeah?
Lewis Malone: Me and Fluke here, yeah.
Matt Burdick: Is there any like crossover in inspiration? Do you think you guys kind of take things away from both bands when you’re jamming and writing?
Lewis Malone: I mean, it’s definitely easier because we already kind of have that like musical language with each other I guess .It’s a little different for Fluke cause he’s playing a whole different instrument. For me though, I mean, I talk to Trevor about that all the time, how kind of our influences of each other and just kind of me and Trevor’s musical language will kind of rub off on each other too. They had, I feel like kind of more like a Strokes feel to it when I first joined up, and we were still kind of just like that gritty two-piece blues for the most part. Both bands I feel like have kind of fed off that a little bit maybe.
Nick Buwalda: Yeah, you could definitely hear like, the “Future Misters sound” change after Lewis joined too, just cause he kind of added like a little bit of a blues rock kind of vibe to it. So that was kind of fun writing stuff.
Matt Burdick: Alright, well here comes the quarantine questions. So, do you guys remember what the last show you played was, before the pandemic kind of hit and live music stopped really being a thing?
Trevor Sharnas: I’m pretty sure it was… It might have been Pyramid Scheme, or, I can’t remember. I think it was Mulligan’s cause we played there a lot, especially like in January and February. And I think our last one was like at the end of February at Mulligan’s. Yeah, from what I remember. We were talking about that the other day.
Ryan Fluke: We had a show scheduled for Space Church and I know we kind of just turned it into like an Instagram Live thing with Future Misters and Tube Socks, couldn’t have anybody over.
Trevor Sharnas: And for those who don’t know, Space Church is our house, we throw shows here too.
Matt Burdick: Oh, that’s actually a great transition to my next question. Yeah, I was going to ask, you guys just started operating as a house show venue like, what was it, last summer or last winter?
Ryan Fluke: Yeah, I think last August or September.
Matt Burdick: Okay, so how did you guys decide to start doing that? I guess what was the moment you knew like, “Yeah, we should definitely start doing house shows?”
Ryan Fluke: As soon as we found this house, honestly. We went into the basement and saw like, “Oh, cool, we got a nice basement we can fit a bunch of people in unsafely and play some loud music.” And it’s one of those things, I mean, I’ve always wanted to have a house venue since I knew that was something you could do. So it’s just, I’m glad we’ve had people continue coming through. I’m glad we’ve gotten a bigger crowd. It sucks we haven’t been able to do it the past few months.
Lewis Malone: It’s a great way to meet new bands as well.
Ryan Fluke: Oh a hundred percent
Matt Burdick: For sure, really just like creates that community. Is that something you guys thought about when you were looking for houses? Like is that one of the first things you think, like, “Oh I wonder if this basement can have house shows?”
Ryan Fluke: That’s a hundred percent one of those things I think of. Every time. I’m like,”What’s this basement like?” I ignore all the bedrooms, I’m like “Come on, what’s the basement looking like here?”
Matt Burdick: Have you ever like played a house show in a spot where you’re like, “They maybe should not be having bands play in this?”
Ryan Fluke: Oh yeah.
Lewis Malone: Plenty of times.
Ryan Fluke: I mean our first Future Misters show was in a kitchen in Copper Beech apartments by Grand Valley.
Trevor Sharnas: It was just our friends. It was like our very first show ever, and it was on Halloween, but we played in this like tiny kitchen in one of the off-campus apartments, and Fluke was like backed up to the basement stairs and he was literally like almost falling down because there was no room.
Matt Burdick: Yeah , I was at a show in a Grand Valley apartment complex or something, it was just this like small apartment and the music was so loud it’s a miracle that the cops didn’t shut it down or anything. But those can sometimes be the best kind of shows, the ones where you’re like, “This shouldn’t be possible.” But how do you think the house show scene is kind of going to work moving forward now? Do you think it’s going to be like the first thing to bounce back from the pandemic?
Trevor Sharnas: Yeah, because I think like those are the easiest to set up and it’s really like, when you book at a bigger venue, you need to know ahead of time, like pretty well ahead of time.
Lewis Malone: You don’t have as much red tape to go through.
Trevor Sharnas: Right, so I think when people start to come around back to like doing shows, like we’ve talked about that too, about when we’re going to do the next one here. And I think we might just kind of do it as more of an intimate gathering, and kind of just go from there and just feel it out, play it by ear.
Matt Burdick: Do you think there’s going to have to be like, at shows in the future, do you think they’re going to come back with a lot of safety precautions maybe? Like, I don’t know, I can imagine, I think I saw an article that said moshing and crowd-surfing might be banned at bar venues and stuff for a little while.
Trevor Sharnas: Yeah who knows?
Lewis Malone: That won’t stop ‘ em.
Trevor Sharnas: Yeah, it’s gonna take a while before it goes back to the normal atmosphere, that’s for sure.
Matt Burdick: And what about you guys specifically? Do you think your live show is going to be any different as a result of taking so much time off of playing music?
Trevor Sharnas: I don’t think so.
Lewis Malone: If anything, we’ve been playing more probably.
Ryan Fluke: It’s going to be weird to play in front of people again, but I think it’s going to be more, I’m just going to feed off that energy. Cause we’ve done a couple of live streams, and it’s really hard to like play a song and then there’s just freaking dead silence. Like, “I hope people liked that.” When you get that actual crowd there, you feed off that energy. So I’m more just looking forward to that, knowing that like we’ve all been practicing a lot more throughout all of this.
Nick Buwalda: We’re used to dead silence when we play live anyway.
Matt Burdick: So let’s talk about, you guys had a single that you dropped a couple of months ago. “Tension” came out like right before all the stay-at-home orders and right before everything kind of hit the fan. So what was the writing and recording process of that? Did you know that the release would be impacted in this way?
Trevor Sharnas: Not really. I mean, for the song itself, we worked on that- Fluke and I actually started that a long time ago, right when we started, and it kind of just developed over time. But, like with everything else that’s happened during the lockdown, we didn’t really anticipate what was going on. I think we were just planning on releasing it, and then we were scheduling a tour for like April or May to kind of support the release. But yeah, I guess that’ll just have to wait. Before, we were just playing everything by ear like everyone else is.
Matt Burdick: Yeah, that always sucks with like bands having to plan out months in advance like that, only to have everything be up in the air suddenly.
Trevor Sharnas: I mean like the silver lining with that is we’re just writing and recording more to release and support live shows, so there’s really not much else to do. We’ve been recording in our basement too lately.
Matt Burdick: With “Tension,” did you guys record that in your home setup too?
Trevor Sharnas: No, we actually did that at a studio in town called River City Studios back in December, January-ish. But I think from now on, we’re just going to record on our own.
Matt Burdick: So like you said with writing and recording, is that kind of what you’re doing now to, I guess, fill the hole that’s left by no live music?
Trevor Sharnas: Basically. There’s nothing else to do but write and practice.
Matt Burdick: Yeah. Do you think like your writing is influenced by the pandemic, like the emotions of everything? Are you kinda using music to get out those feelings, or just to have something to do?
Lewis Malone: I definitely am.
Trevor Sharnas: It’s harder to write about the things that you want to write about because you just don’t have the experience of going out in public and like observing what you normally go through. Like, you’re just kind of stuck at home and it’s like, it’s good to be at home and kind of reflect on something you want to write about, but at the same time, you just like pigeonhole yourself because we’re all in the same situation. So there’s no way to say something that’s different from another band. All the messages are the same.
Matt Burdick: Yeah, it’s like you finally have the time and motivation to write, but now you don’t know what to write about.
Trevor Sharnas: Exactly.
Matt Burdick: That’s the worst.
Nick Buwalda: Hit the nail on the head, my guy.
Matt Burdick: So you guys, do you all live in the same house or is it most of you?
Nick Buwalda: All of them except me.
Matt Burdick: Okay, so do you think that like living together kinda affects your musical chemistry or your song writing?
Lewis Malone: Definitely.
Trevor Sharnas: Yeah I think so. I mean, since we’re always there and we always have the option to go hash something out in the basement, you know, if one of us has an idea, like everyone’s right there. Just improves that chemistry, like Lewis was talking about.
Lewis Malone: Exactly, the “musical language,” I guess, that we have with each other. It becomes a lot more unconscious the more time we spend with each other. We kind of learn all the unconscious cues of what everybody does. It just makes writing a lot easier. Orchestrating songs a lot easier.
Matt Burdick: Yeah. So do you think having to be together more than usual right now because of world events, do you think that’s brought you guys closer or do you think that’s made you guys more tense and irritable?
Lewis Malone: Both. We have our days where we gotta go take a lap or two, you know?
Matt Burdick: Does personal roommate drama ever interfere with like band stuff, or do you tend to keep that kind of separate?
Trevor Sharnas: There’s not really a lot of drama, just a lot of buffoonery. A lot of jokes, a lot of ridicule.
Lewis Malone: Just boredom. We’re all slaphappy.
Matt Burdick: So other than music, is there anything else that you guys are doing to blow off steam and fight the boredom right now?
Trevor Sharnas: That’s pretty much it for me. Writing and recording.
Nick Buwalda: Uh, just film stuff. Gaming, doing some photography, video work.
Lewis Malone: I’ve been playing some Farming Simulator.
Matt Burdick: Like Facebook Farmville?
Lewis Malone: No dude, no it’s so much more. I’m not gonna get into it. Well, it’s like Farmville, but it’s like so obnoxious because it’s so realistic, to the point where everything would take just as long as it would to do in real life.
Matt Burdick: It’s like at that point, just start a garden.
Lewis Malone: Right? I was like, “I should just go out and just do this right now.” I’m like, “Why am I even wasting my time?” Takes just as long.
Ryan Fluke: I’ve just been like running and hiking a lot. Other than that, I really just drum or sleep.
Lewis Malone: He doesn’t sleep.
Ryan Fluke: Yeah it’s actually the opposite, I don’t sleep.
Matt Burdick: Any big TV shows or something you guys are bingeing with all your time?
Lewis Malone: Life Below Zero.
Nick Buwalda: I went back and re-watched Breaking Bad while season five of Better Call Saul was coming out. So I was like watching them both at the same time, kind of living in that world for a little bit. That was fun.
Matt Burdick: Did you finish? Did you get caught up on the latest Better Call Saul?
Nick Buwalda: Yeah, it’s really good, I did.
Matt Burdick: Yeah I just finished that a few weeks ago. I’m sure the listeners don’t care about that, but I do. So, do you guys have any, I mean this is a tough question I know but like tentative plans for the future going forward? Or at least something that you’re trying to look forward to? Agh, that was way more depressing than I intended it.
Lewis Malone: We’re working on the van.
Nick Buwalda: We’ve been writing a lot.
Trevor Sharnas: Yeah. I think our plan is we want to record like a full album. I don’t know how many songs exactly, but it’d be nice to get that done-
Nick Buwalda: 24.
Trevor Sharnas: Put it out there. 24!?
Lewis Malone: It’s gonna be like Stadium Arcadium. Two discs.
Trevor Sharnas: Put an album out there, and then just tour to support it. But I think that is as nearsighted as it gets for the next like year and a half or so.
Matt Burdick: And I know you guys originally had been like releasing a bunch of EPs and then just in the last year or so you kinda narrowed it down to just like dropping singles every once in a while. What was the intention behind that formula?
Trevor Sharnas: I mean, there really was no intention on like whether it’s a single or an EP. It was kind of like, if we have the songs done, then just record it and put it out there so you know, everyone can listen to it. But I think the approach now is just to make sure everything’s done, record it, and then just lay it all out there.
Matt Burdick: Are there plans to include like the previous singles on whatever album or project comes next, or were those just meant to be like one-off things?
Trevor Sharnas: When the time comes to kind of organize it, we might redo some stuff, but I don’t know. We’ll see.
Matt Burdick: No tentative plans for shows right now? No trying to like reschedule the tour? I guess that wouldn’t really be possible.
Lewis Malone: I think Twisted Turtle is our next scheduled show. I think they pushed it to like August, I think, is like our next actual approved show that we’re playing in front of people.
Trevor Sharnas: Yeah, it’s a festival and right outside of Chicago. Sometime in August is when they rescheduled it so we’re doing that. And then we’re planning a like east coast, Midwest tour for September. So, tentative but we’ll see.
Matt Burdick: Sweet. Well that’s about all I got for you guys. Thank you so much for coming on and talking about music.
Nick Buwalda: Oh, Matt I just wanted to say I like your Atlanta poster.
Matt Burdick: Oh, thank you.
Nick Buwalda: I love that show.
Matt Burdick: Yesterday I accidentally made a big rip in it, so I glued it back on and then colored in the spaces with a crayon so no one could tell.
Ryan Fluke: Well, you fooled Nick.
Matt Burdick: Yeah.