Talking the past, present and future with local band Body Futures
The word "future" may be in the band name, but Milwaukee-based rock band Body Futures is having a pretty good moment right now in the present. The band is getting prepped to release their debut LP, "Brand New Silhouettes," to the world on Tuesday, Aug. 12 (that's the online date; it should be in stores on Aug. 26) with an album release show at Cactus Club on the Friday before to celebrate.
OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with Body Futures' Michael Wojtasiak about the present new album, the band's past and what's coming up in the future.
OnMilwaukee.com: How did Body Futures come together?
Michael Wojtasiak: It was actually about two years ago. Dixie (Jacobs), our singer and keyboard/harp player, posted on Facebook a video of some band and said something about how it would be cool to start a band that sounded like it. DJ (Hostettler), the drummer, and I both just right away responded and said sounds good.
We'd all known each other for a while. The three of us had known each other for about ten years, and Dixie had known Chris (Maury) for a while, too. Yeah, we just went from "Why not start a band?" to having a bunch of songs and saying "Hey, this is a real thing."
OMC: Do you remember who the band was that she posted on Facebook?
MW: Yeah, it was actually a band called The Birthday Party, which was Nick Cave's old band.
OMC: What about that particular song and band really got you guys going?
MW: I don't even know if it was anything in particular about the song so much as I know I had wanted to do something musical with Dixie for a while. Both DJ and Chris had done little things on the side with her and possibly with each other. It just went from all of us individually interested in wanting to start something to here's a conversation with mutual friends, talking about starting something. From that initial conversation, we're the four that got together and ended up making it happen.
OMC: What were the other musical inspirations you were and are striving for?
MW: We talked a lot about some '90s bands, like Shudder to Think and Jawbox and some of the more aggressive but melodic post-punk sort of bands. We also discussed a lot of '70s prog, like early Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
I think we were trying to think of the bands that we all enjoyed and appreciated that we didn't necessarily see represented among the shows we were going to or the bands that we were playing with, which was mostly more punk and noise rock. We started talking about the elements that we felt, between the four of us, we could bring into a band.
OMC: How was the recording process of the new LP, "Brand New Silhouettes"?
MW: We recorded it in town with Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Studios. DJ had worked with him before in IfIHadAHiFi and had nothing but great things to say about him. Some of our friends had recorded with him too. Really, everything went so smoothly.
He's brought so much professionalism that I've never experienced in a recording situation before. I've mostly done self-recording and lo-fi recordings, so I was just amazed by how quickly he was able to get us through each step of the process. It definitely helps that we had everything fully written and demoed before we hit the studio, so we weren't wasted any time second-guessing the songs themselves while we were recording. That made a difference.
Honestly, we probably spent as much on each song on the first demo as we did on the whole album, just because it was so much trial-and-error doing it ourselves. Whereas, having Shane come in, he knew exactly what kind of sound we were going for, and we were off to the races.
OMC: Was there anything musically you wanted to improve upon from that first set of demos?
MW: I think that we've pretty fortunate that every time we've even made demos, we've already had the song the way we're happy with it. All we wanted to do was let somebody else's ears kind of be in charge of making sure all the sounds are right and let somebody else run the control booth so we didn't have to be, "What does this button do here? Oops! Well, try that again." (laughs) It was just great going from trying to figure out how to do it all ourselves to letting that one aspect over to somebody.
He's very professional, but he's also an indie producer. He's very affordable, and he understands our aesthetic very well. What we set out to do and what he accomplished for us is to capture the sound that we already had at our concerts and on our demos, but just heighten it so everything is where it should be.
OMC: You guys recorded during the Polar Vortex. How was that?
MW: I think it helped us stay focused because there wasn't anything to do but be in the studio. (laughs) Nobody wanted to go outside, so we just hunkered down and put 14-hour days in and just got it done as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
OMC: How many songs ended up on the LP?
MW: We recorded 13, and we put 11 on the LP.
OMC: One of the songs is called "Sha Na Na: Clone Project Alpha," about an escaped convict who posed as a dead member of the band Sha Na Na. How did you hear about this insane story and decide to write a song about it?
MW: (laughs) I think I read about it a long time ago, but I had just been listening to a podcast called Comedy Bang Bang that day. It's a comedy podcast, and in passing, they just kind of mentioned, "Hey! Have you ever heard the crazy tale of the guy who pretended to be a member of Sha Na Na?" They talked about it for maybe a minute, and then at practice that night, I just said, "Hey, you have to hear this crazy story."
Next thing I know, DJ and Dixie had both gone off and done further research on the subject matter and came back and had written the lyrics for a song.
OMC: What's the plan for those other two songs? Did you really want one or both of those on this LP?
MW: When the record wasn't done yet, I was really pushing for at least one of them to be included. But once we heard the finished product, there were two that weren't quite up to the level of the other ones. We think that we could go in for another day and just make a few tweaks and we'd be really happy with them, so maybe we'll see if we can put them out as singles or put them online at some point.
We've already started talking about how we want to start writing new songs with the plan of having a second album eventually. I feel like these two songs fit better with the first batch of songs for the first LP, so I would just as soon put them out in some fashion this year so we can start fresh writing new material.
OMC: So you guys are already thinking about a second album?
MW: I think we've gotten as far as agreeing that we're all still enjoying ourselves and want to keep going. I'm sure it'll be a long time before we have another record; we'll want to spend a lot of time playing out this one. But it's really encouraging to me that we've been together three years, done some short tours and now done the studio time, and we're still all on the same page and want to keep going. I like to think that bodes well for the future.
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