Mic Check: Futurebirds will host full band livestream from Athens

Editor's note: With live music and concert reviews on hold due to COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is focusing on how Georgia musicians are spending their time in our new feature, Mic Check.

On March 14, Futurebirds were two days into a national tour to promote “Teamwork,” the album released near their 10th anniversary.

The band was in Telluride, Colorado, when news signaled that the coronavirus pandemic was essentially shutting down the country, and the drive back to Georgia was fraught with anxiety.

“All this news was hitting your (phone), and we had no choice but to be out there thousands of miles away, and we had to be walking into restaurants and hotels and gas stations,” said singer-guitarist Thomas Johnson. “We’ve settled in since getting back.”

The Athens-bred band — singer-guitarist Carter King, singer-guitarist Daniel Womack, drummer Johnny Lundock, bassist Brannen Miles and Johnson — has stayed active with regular online musical offerings (which they’ve dubbed “TGIFuturebirds), and at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on May 29, they will reconvene in Athens for a livestream featuring the full band performing at Tweed Recording Academy.

Futurebirds will host the show from their own online store (which can be accessed here). Tickets will also be available as a bundle to include a remastered version of the band's 2010 debut, "Hampton's Lullaby," soon to be released on vinyl for the first time. (The first 200 fans will receive a double album with bonus material printed on translucent red vinyl from Kindercore Vinyl in Athens).

In another bid to ease back into normalcy, Futurebirds are still selling tickets and are cautiously optimistic that their "Teamwork Retreat" — announced last fall — will take place Labor Day weekend at Pilot Cove in Brevard, North Carolina.

Last week, the band’s Daniel Womack (originally from Waynesboro who now lives in Savannah), Carter King (from Atlanta, but resides in Nashville) and Thomas Johnson (a Gwinnett County native stationed in Athens) gathered for a Zoom chat.

What have you been doing while at home?

Daniel Womack: So much has happened these first few months. The first few weeks, we were trying to get used to the live streaming bubble. We've caught a stride now.

Thomas Johnson: Over the years, we've done a pretty good job accumulating a lot of content, whether recorded live shows or different other things we've accumulated, but it's always been a step away from being able to put out. I've been spending a lot of time mixing live shows to hopefully put out there really soon. Our debut album, "Hampton's Lullaby," was never released on vinyl, so that's going to come out hopefully on its 10-year anniversary (July 27) or mid-to-late summer. That took a little bit of work, remastering and doing some art things. We released a side project of mine that Carter is also in — The Interns — that is live on Spotify. We're trying to make the most of it and get some stuff out there and set ourselves up for whenever we can tour again.

Carter King: For so long, I was of the mindset if we weren't constantly moving, that I wasn't being productive. It's been nice to have this mandated that you have to stay in the same place. It's also been a nice refocusing of how we operate.

I’ve been asking musicians what they miss. Is it the gas stations for you guys? (The band expresses their affinity for gas stations while driving the country on tour in a YouTube video commemorating their 10th anniversary.)

Womack: Road trips in general, we miss that. It's funny how the gas stations evolve as you travel the country. We waste a lot of time in gas stations. We haven't taken this long of a break from touring, and we're ready to get back out there. We were just getting the hang of it, and we've maximized all potential fun to be had touring! We had just started on a big tour that was set to be a really fun one. Two days in it got pulled, and (we had) to drive all the way back across the country. It felt like apocalyptic times.

King: (Laughs) I might have gas station PTSD for a little while.

Tell me about the May 29 livestream from Tweed.

Johnson: The guy who owns (Tweed), Andrew (Ratcliffe), moved to Athens and opened this studio downtown. It's a really cool space. One half is a recording engineer school, and the other is a functioning studio. He's a sucker for old analog gear, and they have a 150-person (capacity) venue. They have plenty of space for us to spread out, and we're going to keep the people in the room to a minimum. It will be us, a couple of people in a mixing room that's separate from the venue and someone at the back of the venue running monitors. The video people will be spread out, and we'll be spread out on stage. It's exciting because we haven't played together in a long time. I haven't seen any full band stuff out there (online). As much as I love seeing this single (musician) acoustic stuff, the well is starting to run dry on that. I think there's a lot of momentum of wanting to see a full band thing again.

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