Future Crib is an indie rock group from Nashville, fronted by Johnny Hopson. We had the chance to ask Johnny and the band a few questions about the scene in Nashville and their latest album Friends, released in September.
ALTANGELES: When did you start playing music and make Future Crib?
JOHNNY: We have all been playing music since we were young-uns! We all fell in love with music pretty naturally, and the best way we knew to get closer to it was to start making it! Bryce and I played together in a band during middle and high school called Naff Noise. I made the first Future Crib record mostly on my own while everyone else in the band got busier with school, work, college apps, etc. I had all these songs in my head that felt good together, and it felt natural to make a record out of them that sounded pretty different from what I had made up until then. I was 17. The first band that played those songs live was me, Julia, my brother Joey Hopson, and our bestie Ben Ballard, who Bryce and I live with now. Bryce started playing with us more when he and I both settled into college, and Noah started playing with us in December of 2017. This crew feels like magic and we are having a ton of fun!
What artists did you grow up listening to?
JOHNNY: My parents manage family restaurants, so I would always ride in the car seat while my dad would drive around to the different locations making sure everything was running well and making deposits, so that’s where I think most of what I grew up loving came from. He would always play Built to Spill, Pavement, Ted Leo, Dinosaur Jr, Wilco, which is now my favorite band, the Replacements, etc. I soaked a lot up in that backseat.
What was the process behind making your new album Friends?
JOHNNY: Friends was the first Future Crib project that we all played and collaborated on. Stevie B. and Beamish were just me for the most part, with some help from good friends. Andrew Selchow helped a lot and played on every song on Beamish. Making things on your own, while it can be liberating, can also be exhausting. It’s a lot easier to have a work stoppage and to start obsessing over small things that ultimately don’t matter. When recording a band, there’s much less minutia to focus on, and it is much easier to see and feel the whole picture. The bulk of the record was recorded live to our tape machines. The first couple tunes, “Yer Movin’” and “Pocket,” were on 8 track and the last 8 were on 16 track. We had so much fun working the songs up and playing them together in my parents’ basement, “The ‘Cuda,” where we record and practice. There were a lot of laughs and good memories made.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
JOHNNY: I think as time has passed and as we have gotten to perform these songs so much, “Friends!” sticks out as my favorite. Bryce had to convince me to keep that song around. I had a couple melody ideas and the chorus written, but thought it was kinda moody or corny the way I was hearing it in my head. Noah, Bryce and I worked on it in our garage one afternoon and it started to feel a lot better with their input, then I wrote all the words waiting on a music publishing class to start the next day. To me, whenever I sing that song in front of people, I get this crazy feeling that I can’t really pin down, but it feels really genuine and different. I ultimately do want to just make friends and be connected with people, and I don’t want to blow my opportunity to have lifelong friendships. I think we all want to relate to as many people as we can in a real way. Noah just told me to say his fav is “Untitled.” He’s upstairs.
What is your songwriting process like?
JOHNNY: We all do it a little differently, but most of the time someone comes in with a demo that they have made, which usually has every instrument on it, and we are able to deconstruct and build the song back up to make each part and the whole uniquely us. Everyone’s personality shines through in ways that are unexpected and exciting. It’s fresh! I have had to learn to stop hearing the whole picture in my head when I write a song. Now when I write, there are spaces left for my friends to fill them in.
How is it to have such a supportive group of friends and musicians from the Nashville scene?
JOHNNY: I am very thankful that I grew up and fell in love with music in Nashville. Especially now, I feel like the group of people who make music closely to each other prefer to push each other in a positive upward direction, rather than try to get on top of one another. It’s friendly competition, if you can even call it competition at all. It’s more like, “Wow, I’ve never seen anyone do that before. I wanna do that. I’m gonna do that.”
What have you been listening to lately?
JOHNNY: I have been listening to a lot of jazz and reggae music lately that has really been inspiring me! Joao Donato and Bill Evans are two pianists I dig, and after seeing the new Miles Davis documentary I have been revisiting a lot of his records from the 50s and 60s. The Wailers’ Exodus has always been a favorite of mine as well. The new Wilco record Ode to Joy is also heavy in my rotation. I think it’s one of their absolute best.
What inspires you to make music?
JOHNNY: People! Color! Art! Nature! Feelings! Happiness! Sadness! Confusion! Loneliness! Joy! History! Technology! Books! Poetry! Relationships! Love! Sound!
If Future Crib was a cover band, what band would you cover and what would you call the band?
JOHNNY: Dang, this one is tough! Supertramp cover band called “D-D-Digital” that only plays Breakfast in America all the way through.
NOAH: Willie Nelson cover band called “Awesome.”
BRYCE: I would cover the Almond Brothers.
JULIA: Bob Dylan cover band called “Cracky Voice” that only plays songs from Self Portrait.
Who’s your favorite band to play with?
JOHNNY: We have a lot of really close homies in bands that we love. It’s always a joy to play with artists that we believe in and work alongside. Whenever we do a tour with Nordista Freeze, I feel so energized and excited every night. We usually function as his backing band, and sometimes combine our sets. When that happens, it feels like a musical circus. Everyone is switching instruments between songs and everyone is yelling and going wild. It’s a blast!
What are your plans for Future Crib in the near future?
JOHNNY: Noah and I return from a tour with another artist in December, so we plan on getting together with everyone else and laying down a new record with the songs we’ve accumulated over the last year or so. We are pumped on ’em and so excited to make some more recordings! This one feels more solid to me than anything we’ve done so far.
Is there anything else you want to add?
JOHNNY: That you rule! Thank you for bein’ you!
Photo by Violet Teegardin