Life, Love and the Future of Music


Axiom caught up with Chicago-based electronic rock band Future Rock at
Aura Music Festival in Suwanee Park a couple months back and had a
chance to discuss relationships between life, love and the future of

Axiom-Nation: With more and more musicians embracing
organic-electronic musical fusion, what kind of future do you think
fans of Jamtronica can look forward to?

Felix Moreno: Jamtronica fans can look forward to the retirement of
the term ‘Jamtronica’. Let’s move beyond how the sound was generated and
just listen. It’s only a matter of time until all music is a blend of
the electronic and organic so that the use of terms like ‘Livetronica’
and ‘Jamtronica’ are useless. I look forward to that day. There seem to
be more and more musicians popping up in the scene that really have a
depth of understanding of how to utilize the newest and greatest tools
on the market. While we have stayed away from going the laptop/dj
route for our show, I’ve seen lots of great acts in the past year or
two who have embraced the laptop/DJ format and have put on killer
shows. I think that the future of live electronica will probably see
some kind of happy medium between live instrument-only bands and
laptop/DJ only acts.

A.X: The meaning of “Future Rock” can be interpreted in a variety of
ways. For readers who aren’t familiar with the trio, can you briefly
describe the sound, style and the music of Future Rock?

Mickey Kellerman: If I had to boil it down to one thing, I would say
it’s electronic dance rock or almost electronic dance punk. The music
is pretty hard rock and intense when played live, but it keeps an
electronic dance beat to it no matter how hard we rock out on stage.
Even on our albums, the electronic beat comes through pretty well
behind the rock intensity.

A.X: How does, if at all, Chicago affect the music Future Rock
produces? What regional musicians influenced you growing up and
propelled you into the music industry?

Mickey: There’s a certain vibe in this city and I’m not exactly sure I
can put my finger on it. I didn’t actually grow up in Chicago, so I
never had the chance to hear the local stuff early on. I was focused
on more national and international musicians. Not until I got to
college and came to Chicago did I really get into the regional sound
and style.

A.X: Well then, how would you compare the Chicago style, to say, the West Coast?

Mickey: Comparatively, the West Coast is much more laid back, much
more into polishing their music. I definitely would say we’re not
polished in that sense; we don’t carry a west coast vibe at all.
Chicago just has a dirtier, grimier sound.

A.X.: Where did the influence to create electronic music derive from?

Mickey: The first electronic bands I really got into were Daft Punk
and the Chemical Brothers, so again it wasn’t a Chicago influence. But
at the same time, I had a chance to see so many great shows come
through here. We do a lot of instrumental stuff and I certainly think
that seeing a lot of bands in Chicago who are able to do instrumental
music successfully has helped encourage us and validate us to continue
doing instrumental music.

A.X: Growing up, what sort of instruments were you experimenting with?
As a child, you don’t grow up saying “I want to play the synthesizer,”
so which instruments prepped you to start creating instrumental and
electronic music?

Mickey: I took classical piano lessons growing up for seven years, not
rock or anything like that. I didn’t have the idea to want to play in
a band until I was just about to finish high school, but even at that
point I wasn’t getting into the band scene just yet. When I went to
college, I took a class called Electronic Music Composition and in
that class they had this really cool studio set up with synthesizers.
It took up an entire wall of the studio using patch cables and stuff.
The teacher taught us the foundation of electronic synthesis;
literally the physics of what was going on and how to create the sound
and actions. This was great because it forced you how to play
synthesizer. While I was taking the class, I’d be listening to albums
I was into at the time from the Talking Heads to Beck, for instance,
which aren’t necessarily electronic albums per se. But as I was taking
the class, I started to hear synthesizer in the music and a light bulb
went off that this sort of sound was really cool. After that, I pretty
much immediately went out and bought a synthesizer. I started writing
music and it opened an entirely new creative outlet that hadn’t ever
been there before.

A.X: Future Rock has become a favorite in the jam scene. Was this
positioning deliberate or did you guys wake up one day and find
yourself embedded in this genre?

Mickey: Well, I have to be honest because when we first started out we
just wanted to play shows. It’s a matter of wanting to play a show. If
you want to play shows you have to open up for “so and so” band. Our
manager had some inroads in the jam scene when we first started so
that’s where the opportunities were. There wasn’t that much of a
thought process into it. I certainly wouldn’t call Future Rock a jam
band; we do some jamming during the show, but I would say about 70% of
the show is entirely composed. If people want to call us that, that’s
fine. It doesn’t really matter. The fact is that there are a ton of
fans in that scene that really love our band. Obviously, for whatever
reason, it resonates with that crowd and that’s great. I have
absolutely no problem with that. I think that jam band fans are some
of the best fans out there.

A.X: I saw that you guys took a month off a while back, could we see a
new album very soon?

Felix: Yes…

Mickey: Yeah, we have actually been working on a new album and we need
to make a push to get it out real soon.

Felix: You can’t rush these things though. Mickey’s been taking the
lead on the writing and Darren and I have been playing a support role.
We think that the new stuff that we will have coming out is going to
be the best we have ever made. We played a little of it tonight and
we’ve been sprinkling it into our live sets when its appropriate.
Musically speaking in our writing, I think it’s been a solid
progression approach. Never a spurt up but always just getting better
and always reflecting our true passion for music. We never just went
the easy way out and went to what we were “supposed” to be writing.
We’ve always been true to what we want to write and what is natural
for us to write. I’m extremely proud of that.

Mickey: I think that’s a good point. From the very beginning when we
started the band we kind of had an idea of the kind of music we were
going to play, but as our tastes changed along the way, we let that
influence us and the music kind of evolved based on what we were
listening to.

A.X: And so I take it the new album will be free as well?

Mickey: Yeah, we give all of our music away for free. I think we’re
living in the age of the free download.

Felix: No one owns music, western music particularly. Since it’s
inception, when they invented tonality, as we know it in the
seventeenth century, it has always been free. It has always been
forwarded by philanthropy, by people who gave money to the artists so
that they could write and so that they could create this system of
music we have today. No one owns music, music is free. So my stance is
always going to be towards that and I am extremely grateful to the
fans that have supported and to those who even though the album is
free, bought the album or bought the hard copies. I mean that’s what
it is, if you really support a band and really like them, you will
give money to them. I do that and I think that people who love music
do that. I’m not one of those artists who is concerned about the
industry and if the record business is falling apart. What is going to
happen is the record business will fall apart, but music and artists
will be just fine.

Mickey: My feeling about the transaction between fans of the music and
a band is the expression of a concert. I’m a music fan myself, when I
really like a band, when I really like their music, I’ll buy a ticket
to their show and that’s how I support music I love. At this point
anyone can pay $10 a month to Spotify and hear unlimited amounts of
music, there’s no such thing as buying albums anymore. There will
always be live shows to go see music so I support bands in that way.

A.X: Well guys that brings me around to my last question, what are
your goals for this next year?

Mickey: Wow, we are getting deep on these questions, I haven’t even
thought about my goals for this year.

Felix: You know we’ve been so entrenched in the band and we’ve been
doing this for so long, that to think of goals specific for a year is
difficult for us. It’s a little more profound than that. Our love for
what we do is so deep that really it’s just become about honing our
craft. Sometimes I say I’m a slave to music, but that’s a little bit
too harsh. In reality, the music is what’s leading us, not specific
goals about getting an album out or playing this many shows or doing
this or doing that. My goal is to further my relationship and love
with music.