There is an undeniable American fascination towards New York City, and perhaps from the world, where everything and anything could be a cultural metaphor. For better or worse, the pulse of this metropolis continually re-kindles creativity in everything from cuisine to art to fashion. And music. One such band with roots in North Texas that felt the pull of the City That Never Sleeps is Future Punx.
"Where in Denton there's kind of a crowd of people that go to shows and there's shows that happen all the time, but there's pretty much one cool thing happening on any given night," says Chris Pickering, guitarist of Future Punx, who are based in Brooklyn. "But here, there's like a hundred cool things happening, like, every night."
Pickering moved to New York a little over two years ago. He lives with Andrew Savage, another North Texas ex-pat, and member of prominent Brooklyn indie rock band Parquet Courts. Together they run the Dull Tools record label, which released the newest Future Punx EP, I'm So Inspired, earlier this month.
"The whole point of this tour was just to get to Texas and back," says Pickering, who's two shows bookend the Thanksgiving holiday, just in time to visit family.
Future Punx are unique to Brooklyn, but they maintain a work ethic and an evolving creative drive that can be traced back to their roots in Denton, with such bands as Teenage Cool Kids, Wax Museums and Fergus and Geronimo.
And just as New York can by synonymous with having everything in excess, there is, quite predictably, an ever-abundant presence of musicians.
"There are tons of bands, so I guess in one way it's harder to get noticed," admits Pickering. "But on the other side of it, there are so many mediocre bands that if you kick ass then you can get noticed easily. And I think that coming from Denton, where the bar is set kind of high, musically, kind of gives us an advantage."
There may be an advantage from being surrounded with the absurd amount of diversity and DIY ethos that Denton music continues to unabashedly pride itself on, and then using that experience to thrive in such a dynamic environment as New York.
Pickering's last band in North Texas, Adult Books, was already beginning to tap the well of early new wave inspiration, and so perhaps the Future Punx post-wave, glitzy electronic punk sound was just the natural progression.
The band's first releases, "999" and "Livin' in a Movie" are minimal synth-punk gems. With I'm So Inspired, a recording that took nearly a year to complete, their sound is more refined, flirting with some semblances of Devo and early Talking Heads, but certainly not to the extent of coming across as too gimmicky or derivative. Their sound is authentically all their own, and brimming with futuristic electro-punk sensibilities.
The opening song, "I'm So Inspired," begins with a simple drum machine and gains momentum into an almost Gang of Four-esque dance rhythm. The song's lyrics aren't representative of anything literal, but Pickering did draw upon some personal experiences from his time living in New York.
"I think it was written from my perspective," Pickering says. "[It's] not so much [about] living in New York and feeling inspiration but more about just kind of finding inspiration anywhere. Or you know feeling inspired or [having] a sense of rebirth."
New York City may be one of the inspirational capitals of the world, but it isn't necessarily the sole source of the band's motivation, or lack thereof.
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"There's just so many bands that I feel like use New York kind of as an excuse," suggests Pickering. "Like 'Oh, well we'd have to rent this practice space,' or like 'Oh we'd have to borrow a van because we don't have a car.' They kind of can use the fact that it is a hard city to live in for kind of an excuse for not being an amazing band, but we don't really see it that way."
For Pickering, those big-city challenges were exactly the thing he sought out in leaving Denton for the East Coast, so he's not about to let them stand in his way -- even if coming back home every once in a while still feels good. "It's like, we still work as hard as we ever have," he says. "And, you know, coming from such a small scene, it is kind of inspiring to be in a big city."
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