There’s always the saying that every band starts as an opening band, and that’s true. But before they’re even an opening band, what does that look like? There’s a running How I Met Your Mother gag that talks about the five-word phrases that everyone utters at one point in their time (“We should own a bar,” “I can jump that far,” “I’m gonna win her back,” etc.) and for many folks, “We should start a band” is one of them as well. For Future Teens – their story begins with a variation of that mindset.
I had the chance to talk to chat with Daniel and Amy of Future Teens not too long ago, our conversation starts at the very beginning of their band. Their story is funny and fittingly unique for them, one that Daniel explains began as just a recording project. Amy joining the band was a big turning point – but they only joined after matching with Daniel on Tinder. As Daniel tells it, “I messaged them, and I was like, ‘Hey, do you wanna be in a band?’ and they were like, ‘Um, can you send me what it sounds like?’ And I sent it and they were like, actually really into this. So that was definitely the most successful Tinder match either of us had ever met and formed a really nice friendship and created a partnership.” Once Amy joined the band, they began performing live shows pretty regularly, and then went on to record their debut record, Hard Feelings, shortly thereafter.
Each milestone that Future Teens has hit has been a goal they set for themselves: whether it be playing shows, por recording Hard Feelings. “It’s literally just been like, let’s just take it step by step,” Daniel says after explaining that the first tour they booked was done by themselves and friends over Twitter. Our first goal was to play a 200-cap venue in Boston, and we did that for our EP release, and then we wanted to play The Sinclair in Boston, we got to play there. And then Colby and Maya, who play with us now live, joined the band after Hard Feelings came out. We all recorded Breakup Season together, mixed it with this guy, Andy Park, [and then] ended up started working with Triple Crown Records.,” he says.
Normally what brings a band together is the band members shared taste in music. For Future Teens, it was a little bit different – as you might expect from the unique formation with Amy. For Daniel, he explains how he grew up listening to The Get Up Kids in middle school and high school, before shifting away from the genre when he was shown Radiohead. “I was like, ‘I can’t listen to emo anymore, it’s not cool,’’ he emphasizes on this time. He eventually found his way back into this alternative scene after catching Prawn live once he got out of college. For Amy, they had a distaste for emo due to its lack of guitar solos when they were a kid, but grew into it in middle school. “I just, like, did a deep dive on all of that and came up listening to the Get Up Kids and bought into Say Anything and bands like that,” they explain on their music taste. “but also a nice, healthy dose of pop music along the way.”
It was mentioned earlier that Future Teens started as a recording project initially, before expanding into its current state of a fully functioning band. We circle back to this to expand a little bit on exactly what that looked like. Daniel is first to explain that this idea of becoming a full-fledged band really hit them on their first tour, when they were playing a show in Sioux City, Iowa that they got invited to play by their friend Kendall. “This is our second show of our first time on tour, and everyone was screaming along to every word of every song,” Daniel says, continuing that “There was a moment after the first song where we all looked at each other and we were like, ‘Um what the hell is happening?’ It felt like some Improv Everywhere sketch because it was so surreal.” They both are, as you would imagine, entirely appreciative of the chance that these promoters took on them, most of which have turned into serious friendships. This is what has made touring so exciting for Future Teens, as the connection they have built with their fans turned friends has turned into a community that they cherish. Recalling this first tour, Daniel specifically brings up another venue. “The other venue that I want to shout out real quick that was on that tour was in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and our friend Ian booked us. It was a similar situation where it was this packed basement in a place we’d never been before. It was really special.”
Hard Feelings dropped back in 2017, serving as the debut record for Future Teens. Most of the record was done before Amy had joined the band, so when I asked if there was any sort of pressure to finish the record, Amy explains that “I think the only thing about it that was rushed was we finished all of my parts in a big hurry because I worked on cruise ships at the time, so I would leave for months at a time.” Ultimately, it all worked out as we know with hindsight, and ultimately they even finished Hard Feelings before joining Take This to Heart Records to release it. As the story goes, Future Teens shopped Hard Feelings around to a bunch of labels, and Joe Urban from Take This to Heart Records was the only one to respond. “Joe’s our number one supporter and has been there since day one, truly,” Daniel explains, with Amy also explaining that “He really took a chance on us and we’ve been incredibly thankful for Joe. He’s just this incredibly hardworking person who really loves music and champions bands he believes in, and we’re really grateful to be one of them.”
When artists and creatives look back on their earliest work, sometimes there’s a sense of regret, or not being satisfied with the work that you’ve created. But for Future Teens, there’s none of that – and they don’t anticipate their attitude ever becoming jaded towards Hard Feelings. No hard feelings for Hard Feelings, some might say. This comes from the mentality of just putting everything they have into their music and not having any expectations – Daniel describes that they have hopes and dreams for how their career turns out, but they don’t feel like they are owed or deserved of any success. “I think we have really only set out to make something we’re proud of and to make something that represents who we are and what we’re doing and that captures who we are,” Amy explains. They go on to explain that while it would be easy to nit-pick on specific guitar sounds and everything, but as long as they are honest at the time of creating music, they won’t have regrets. “I really want everything we do to hold up, but it’s inevitable that I’m going to feel differently in a few years about the things I wrote Breakup Season about. But, I think that it represented where I’ve been while making that record, in a way. I’m very proud of, we’re all really proud of,” they explain. Daniel echoes this sentiment by explaining that “Every record is a snapshot of who you are as a band in that moment, and doesn’t have to represent the band forever, but it will represent the band in that moment.”
Shifting into the present, Future Teens released their latest record, Breakup Season, earlier this year via Take This to Your Heart Records / Triple Crown Records. The band recorded the drums with Justin Pizzoferrato (who worked with the band on Hard Feelings), but the rest of the record was recorded in Daniel’s basement. “Daniel is a great engineer, [but] he’ll never say this about himself. Daniel has like a great set up and great ears and really knows what he’s doing when it comes to getting sounds, and I think we pull a lot of good things out of each other,” Amy says. They have a comfort in working in a space that they call home, being able to record and have no real deadline outside of their self-imposed ones. Amy and Daniel both are quick to also give credit to Andy D. Park, who mixed the record for them and did a great job of parsing through it and sorting it all out for them. “I’d be like, ‘Alright, Andy, this one has a lot of guitars, so, sorry about that’ and then be like, ‘Okay, no, sorry, this one has a lot of guitars,’ and it’s just like layers of guitars and he really just [helped] parse through and it’s really cohesive and we’re pumped about how it came out,” Daniel explains.
In terms of working on the record, it was destined to be different for Future Teens than when they were working on Hard Feelings. With their debut, most of the record was done by the time that Amy joined Future Teens, and so this time around, the process was more “collaborative,” as Daniel and Amy both agreed. Amy further explains, “For this one, every shell of every song Daniel and I started together. It was like, one of us would bring an idea, whether it was a lyric or a melody or some chunk of a song, and he and I would flesh that out enough to bring it to the band, and we’d arrange it with Colby and Maya. He and I would fine tooth comb every melody and every lyric and really get to the point of what we wanted to say.” Further explaining on how everything was collaborative, the conversation comes full circle in a way, as influences start to play a huge role in the process. Amy recalls a time when they were working through “Alone At the Party” and they took it to Colby explaining it as “Death Cab [for Cutie] but like, in the 90’,” and then Colby brought it back to Amy even better than they anticipated. The following day, Maya heard “Alone At the Party” at its then-current stage, adding in their influences of the Pixies and 90’s on the riff and overall arrangement. Amy wraps up this sentiment explaining that “Every time Daniel and I would get stuck on a lyric and be like, ‘Hey, what do you think of this?’ and Colby and Maya would be like, ‘I think you’re close, but, I don’t think you guys have done it because it didn’t make me feel quite the thing I’m feeling with the rest of this song.’ They are so, such incredible people and so essential to how this record came out. I think the two of them are the biggest difference, honestly.”
When they were working on the record, there was a time when Amy and Daniel both came up with the title Breakup Season independently of the other. After they finished writing “Happy New Year,” they came to the conclusion of wanting to have people turn on the record and go “Who hurt them?” – and that was the one they wanted to set, thus the idea of Breakup Season was born. For each of them, it meant something different – a different kind of breakup. Amy expands on this mindset, “I was going through the end of a long-term romantic relationship, and Daniel was going through a break-up with a band that he was in for a long time, which in itself is the ending of a really massive and important relationship.” Interestingly enough, Future Teens had started writing the record before these two break-ups, with the album following these events, “As we started going through our two things and writing, the album ended up taking on sort of a life of its own in a chronological way,” Daniel explains. Amy concurs, stating that “It’s like us experiencing that pain in real time.
While Breakup Season stems from these very specific break-ups, Future Teens cover various forms of heartache, whether it be through an apathetic sense or an anthemic break-up song, providing an overall relatability sense to their music. Daniel explains this as a “double-edged sword” in the sense of being excited for people to relate to their music, but also recognizing that these listeners went through something similar and felt pain as well. “It’s been cool to like, the really intimate and personal things people have shared with us and how the album has affected them has been really amazing, intense, and cool,” he shares. Amy relates to this sentiment, while adding in their own take on it as well. Writing it was a very cathartic thing to go through, as it was painful to write about after actually going through these moments in life that caused a great deal of pain and sadness. There was a sense of being scared writing the songs, and feeling very exposed in a way, but having people relate to all of it has bene a source of healing. “To have myself on display that way felt really hard until I started to meet people that had listened to [Breakup Season] and connected with it and it’s been a way for me to heal a lot,” Amy states.
That sense of healing is one that – when I ask what they, as Future Teens, what listeners to get from Breakup Season – is hopefully put back onto the listener. Amy explains that they hope the listener understands their pain is valid and means something. When piggybacking off of Amy’s answer, Daniel explains that they also wanted to showcase that break-ups aren’t always just what they seem. “When you go through a breakup, it’s really easy to feel like, ‘I’ve been wronged and I’m right and this other person is wrong and there’s no gray area there,’” he begins to explain. “Sometimes there isn’t [a gray area], sometimes someone really does a bad thing and that’s done. I think there is [also] a time a relationship is two people and just seeing that, when we wrote these songs, we really tried to show the different perspectives that are part of two people who love or loved each other going through it, and that it’s possible for both people to be hurt in the end of it, and to have more than one victim there.” The main sentiment is that your pain, or whatever you are feeling is also valid. Sometimes break-up scan be a two-way street of hurt, and that forced perspective can be healthy to get to.
Future Teens just want to be a part of your journey, and if they can provide any sense of relatability or comfort in what type of break-up you might be going through, they’re satisfied with their musical output.