It was March 24, 2016. Future Thieves were live-streaming their show at Blue Rock Studios in Wimberley, Texas. The adrenaline from performing at SXSW only a week earlier added some extra fuel to the band’s blend of melodic rock and turbocharged Americana. “How’s everybody doing out there in the world?” asks Elliot Collett (lead vocals / rhythm guitar) before launching into “The Floor.”
Viewers were glued to their screens as Elliot and band members Austin McCool (lead guitar), Nick Goss (bass), and Gianni Gibson (drums) deliver a stirring set of songs from their debut album Horizon Line (2015), plus new material that reflects why press and fans are raving about these “…incredible songwriters” (The Tennessean). In less than sixty minutes, Future Thieves completed their next album, Live at Blue Rock.
From festivals like Bonnaroo, Summerfest, and Forecastle to standing room-only shows across the U.S., Future Thieves thrive in a live setting. Paste, American Songwriter, and several other outlets have spotlighted the group. The band regularly packs venues from Los Angeles to New York City to their home base, Nashville. Though each band member followed a different route musically, the synergy between them sparked from the moment Future Thieves formed in October 2013. Nick and Austin knew each other from their time in Evansville, Indiana before settling in Nashville. Elliot hailed from Eastern Kentucky coming south with his old band and Gianni came to Nashville by way of LA, NY and London.
Future Thieves began recording Horizon Line during the summer of 2015 after sharpening their sound through months of gigs and touring. “We had a little three-song EP but we wanted to make something bigger,” says Elliot. “It was good to go in the studio and record songs that we’d been performing live on the road.” Working with producer Alex Jarvis, the band recorded Horizon Line in their home studio and released it on their own label in October 2015.
Horizon Line burnished Future Thieves’ profile in Nashville and beyond. Odyssey Media hailed the album as “a perfect cross-section of everything the band has to offer: ingenious guitar licks from Austin McCool, a voice that’s equal parts smooth and raspy from Elliot Collett, and the driving rhythm section of bassist Nick Goss and drummer Gianni Gibson.” Brown Town Productions also praised the band’s debut, noting “This record is jam-packed with energy, rock and well thought-out songs that draw your ears in immediately and never let go until the last note of the last track.”
A year after the album’s release, Horizon Line is still expanding the band’s loyal fan base. “That first record brought us some great recognition and lots of fans, people are coming to the shows, singing the song. “It’s as much as we can ask for!” The title track has also emerged as the album’s most popular cut, garnering countless streams on SPOTIFY. “People can relate to the lyrics and the music,” notes Gianni. The band embarked on a national tour to promote Horizon Line, crossing the country in a van and giving 1,000% onstage every night. “It’s interesting to play live in different cities because the feeling is essentially the same whether we are playing on a five-foot wide stage or on a huge stage in front of thousands of fans.” Says Nick.
Playing live is one of the essential elements to Future Thieves creative process. By the time they got to Blue Rock after performing three shows at SXSW, they had a batch of fresh songs that were already road-tested. Blue Rock was the perfect setting to capture the driving energy of infectious new tunes like “Just Sayin’, “Ghosts,” ”Ugly Now,” and “Dark in the Day,” which the band subsequently performed on American Songwriter and Reverb Nation CONNECT’s “Discover” concert series.
Listening to Live at Blue Rock is like being in the room with Future Thieves, soaking up all of the nuances that make the band such a thrilling live act. “The one thing we all found common ground on is when you listen to a band’s record, you want to know that there are humans still playing the music,” says Gianni. “That’s what makes the true connection. I want someone to listen to our song “On Fire” in headphones and truly feel like you are transported. It takes you somewhere.”
Along that continuum, the band explores other dimensions in fan favorites like “Nightmares,” a song that Forecastle included on its 2016 Artist Mixtape alongside tracks by Gary Clark Jr, Dr. Dog, and Brandi Carlisle. “There are different versions of ‘Nightmares,'” says Nick. “We’re still figuring out how to take songs that we’ve played for a couple of years and just completely throw in a curve ball right in the middle of it, not only for our entertainment but to help the song grow and fit into new music that we write.”
Future Thieves also possess a bold visual sensibility that’s evidenced in the dramatic storyboard for “Nightmares” as well as their video for the Blue Rock version of “Soon.” Nick explains, “We’ve got a stockpile of footage now. ‘Soon’ is high energy and it goes really well with live clips and it’s just a really great introduction for this record.”
A sense of adventure shapes Live at Blue Rock, bridging Horizon Line with the band’s next studio effort while also coinciding with their upcoming 2017 tour of Europe. From the opening guitar riff on “Dark in the Day” to the thunderous closing vamp of “Nightmares,” the album commands attention from start to finish. The best way to experience Live at Blue Rock is to take a cue from Gianni’s leap across the album cover. Press play and dive right in.