My first question to Nashville gilt-wave synthpop duo Future Unlimited isn’t about their love of everything ‘80s, their excitement about opening our inaugural CoSigns event in Austin, TX, or whether they get sick of being compared to Cut Copy. It’s about Drake.
“Oh, God,” Samuel D’Amelio says. “That’s a whole different world.” D’Amelio, who has been DJing at clubs around Future Unlimited’s hometown for six or seven years, recently hosted the Toronto rapper at his newest residency. “It was actually like a test night,” he tells me over the phone from the apartment he shares with his bandmate, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Dave Miller. “Everything was going all right, and then at 12:45, some guy runs up to the booth and is like, ‘Drake’s coming here!’ So, I’m like, ‘That’s fantastic!’ What I didn’t realize was that Drake was coming there with his entire entourage, 120 people.” After replacing D’Amelio with his own personal DJ, Drizzy and his posse proceeded to turn a “members-only, tuck-in-your-shirt crowd” into a dance party where guys “with pants around their ankles” popped off Cristal.
So, was D’Amelio disappointed he couldn’t spin for Drake? “Oh, hell no! It was really fun to watch. I just hunkered down in my little booth and ate pizza.” His easy-going attitude reflects the circumstances surrounding Future Unlimited’s beginnings, which began with a noise complaint that luckily turned into a friendship with Miller, his former upstairs neighbor. That apartment’s thin walls also contributed to the duo’s musical partnership: “I was laying down some tracks, and then I heard someone running down the stairs to my apartment, and he’s just like, ‘Holy shit, man! You like this kind of stuff?’” D’Amelio says, Miller laughing in the background. “And then we just started trading tracks constantly.” (When they finally did move in together, the band recruited their bassist to live in the apartment next to them to avoid less fortuitous noise complaints from the neighbors.)
That was before Miller realized there might be more to D’Amelio than he thought. He found out the disc jockey was doing “more than just spinning tracks” when Miller heard him writing a score for Bank of America in his apartment. “He composed the whole thing himself, and it was just unbelievable. Here I was, chasing my dream of being a drummer, and he’s at the opposite end of the spectrum, pulling bangers in the club.” Future Unlimited’s self-released debut self-titled EP is a glittering example of how these opposites attract. From the bouncy 1, 2 step of “Golden” to “Easy Ways”’ exquisitely distressed soundscape, D’Amelio and Miller almost out-synthesize their early 1980’s predecessors and aforementioned Australian soundalikes.
Not a band to get territorial or defensive, D’Amelio and Miller respond that they “love the fact that people think we sound like Cut Copy.” In fact, D’Amelio says, “The first time we heard Cut Copy, it reminded us of New Musik, like [band member and producer] Tony Mansfield. He did Naked Eyes, he did Phil Collins, he did a-ha. We just kind of draw on the influence and go with whatever we’re feeling.” Future Unlimited has been feeling enough to record 18 to 20 tracks in addition to those already on their EP, which emulate the gamut from Gary Numan to Inez. Plans to include these other songs on a later full-length are in the works, but D’Amelio and Miller are in no rush, taking the time to make a name for Future Unlimited. “All this is new to us, you know, all of the blog stuff and whatever. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. We don’t want to put a bunch of bullshit out there.”
So far, they have nothing to worry about. D’Amelio’s Labyrinth-ian synthpads on “When It Calls”, decadent enough to make the Goblin King proud, swirl around Miller’s knife-edged tenor. His voice holds the song together, effortlessly skirting a traditional climax with simple lyrics that are by turns yearning and hopeful (“I can see it on the horizon”) and saturated with ennui (“It always sounds the same”). You can hear why, when he rhapsodizes about the anthems of his older siblings, like The Cure and Depeche Mode and U2, words fail him.
“For some reason, all those sounds, all that music… I don’t know. It just spoke to me.” Heart-swelling album closer “Into the Sun” will speak to you, too, resonating with a climax that shimmers like Australian synthpoppers The Temper Trap and Empire of the Sun. It makes sense, then, that there has already been speculation that Future Unlimited will do well in UK and Australian markets. Regardless, the album’s cohesion and sheer “Let’s play that again!” addictiveness will no doubt whet appetites for more from Future Unlimited.
The band hopes that Future Unlimited EP will be available by SXSW. If you’re going to be in Austin then, be sure to stop by our inaugural CoSigns event at The Beauty Bar on Thursday, March 15th in time to see Future Unlimited. Otherwise, stay tuned for updates on a potential upcoming tour schedule.