Sonic Explorations : Neil Lord Talks Future Museums, His Creative Process, and Collaboration

There’s a few ways one ends up when they grow up in the country. There’s the person that can’t wait to turn 18 so they can blow out of the rural landscapes and trade them for towers of concrete and the blinding lights of a thriving downtown. There’s also the person that never leaves the nest, so to speak. They can’t imagine life moving any faster than the creek behind their childhood home. Idyllic forests and small town curfews are all they need. And really, what can a university offer that city college can’t? Of course, there’s also the person that appreciates the rural upbringing and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but took to expanding their minds in bigger settings with like-minded souls.

Musician Neil Lord would be option number three.

Lord grew up in rural Arkansas fishing, exploring, and riding ATVs with his younger brother. The Ozarks helped raise him and shaped the explorer in him. The exploring changed from creeks and trails to the sonic kind when he discovered music. Lord is part of the Holodeck Records music collective in Austin, TX. Not only does he help run things for the label he plays in several bands; including Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Single Lash, and his own Komische-heavy project Future Museums. All of these bands Lord is a part of are big on exploring and layering sound on sound. From shoegaze to Krautrock to dense electronic the music Neil Lord creates is about opening your mind and exploring. Stepping into the ether and seeing where it takes you.

I talked with Neil Lord recently about his upbringing, discovering music, and his upcoming release under the Future Museums name. Rosewater Ceremony Part II : Guardian of Solitude comes out on October 19th, and it’s a continuation of the vibes and ideas Lord started with Rosewater Ceremony which came out back in February. Check out our conversation below.

J. Hubner: So where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?

Neil Lord: I grew up in North Central Arkansas, super rural town deep in the Ozarks, a short drive to the Buffalo National River and countless beautiful hikes. My childhood was definitely wholly consumed by the nature and landscape of that part of the country. Grew up with pretty typical rural experiences, my younger brother and I running around the woods, four-wheelers, burn piles, barefoot in the creek and skimming for crawfish in swimming holes. Pretty idealistic.

J. Hubner: What’s something you’ve taken away from your formative years? Maybe a defining moment for you?

Neil Lord: I was very lucky to have an insanely close group of friends at that age. I never really truly understood how valuable that was at the time, but now, in retrospect, I’m very aware of how that shaped me as an individual full of empathy and understanding within my adult relationships, which also has played a large role in the emotional content within the Future Museums project.

J. Hubner: When did music come into your life? Do you remember the first album you bought yourself?

Neil Lord: I began learning saxophone in the 5th grade. I think the first albums I ever bought for myself at Sam Goody in the 4th or 5th grade were the Godzilla soundtrack (Green Days “Brainstew” was on there dubbed with a Godzilla scream at the beginning, as well as The Wallflowers covering David Bowie’s “Heroes”), and a Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band cassette. I had a neon yellow cassette Walkman that I loved running around recess jamming tapes with.

J. Hubner: You play a variety of instruments within the different projects you’re involved with. What was the first instrument you learned to play?

Neil Lord: Again, saxophone was the first instrument I ever picked up. Was very intuitive and easy for me to learn as a kid, and I continued to play up until I was 18. After that I picked up bass casually, then guitar after that with more intensity, starting my first embarrassing bands.

J. Hubner: So you remember your first band?

Neil Lord: I do. It was a sad folk duo with one of my very close friends Anne Dezort called Killing Photides. We had a MySpace and burned cd-r’s and all that. Around that time I also joined a band that was supposedly a Christian band but we all smoked a lot of weed and covered “Be Quiet and Drive” by the Deftones.

J. Hubner: What was your inspiration to want to learn to play and write? 

Neil Lord: Pretty basic restless pre-teen angst. Desperate to express myself without really having an outlet.

J. Hubner: You currently are in Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Single Lash, and you record under the name Future Museums as well. All of these projects have released records this year, with Single Lash and Future Museums coming up in the next month or two. They all seem to have a very specific aesthetic musically, which I would imagine is a very rich experience for you as an artist. You get to scratch various creative itches and cover some amazing artistic landscapes that way. Tell me a little bit about how you got involved these projects.

Neil Lord: Future Museums came about in 2010 when I was living in Fayetteville Arkansas. I recorded the first couple albums in the backseat of my car in between classes during college. It took moving down to Austin and meeting Nicolas Nadeau before joining Single Lash in 2012/2013. Nicolas had been working under the Single Lash moniker since attending school at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence RI. I essentially learned drums in order to join the band because I loved Nic’s songs so much. We’ve been working strong together ever since. We have an amazing relationship and working chemistry. It was a couple years later that I joined the already long-established TFWC. I joined the band just in time to get to collaborate and record guitar on Cosmic Winds. 

J. Hubner: How did you get involved with helping with the label?

Neil Lord: Similar to Whale Claw, Holodeck had already been building a massive catalog long before me meeting Adam, Amber and Justin. Just worked out that we all had similar paths musically that we were pursuing and could communicate on.

J. Hubner: So let’s talk about Future Museums. How did this project come about? Who were some artists that influenced the sound? 

Neil Lord: Future Museums was born out of my love for krautrock, ambient, kosmiche, minimal composition and film scores. Cluster, Moebius, Terry Riley, Steve Reich were and are all still enormous influences. Popul Vuh’s work with Herzog was also an enormous source of influence.

J. Hubner: What’s your writing/recording process like with Future Museums? What sort of equipment are you using to create the sonic world of your albums? 

Neil Lord: My process is very dependent on my environment. I’m very sensitive to atmosphere. I will pursue my ideas in completely different forms with each different “studio” I’m working in, whether it’s a bedroom or an actual built-out space. Equipment is kind of the same. depending on where or who I’m working with, I’ll use as much or as little as the situation calls for.

J. Hubner: You released Rosewater Ceremony in February of this year, and you are now readying Rosewater Ceremony Part II : Guardian of Solitude, which comes out in October with Holodeck. There’s a very dreamy, atmospheric feel with this project. Is there a concept behind the records? Some sort of internal narrative you were writing with in mind? 

Neil Lord: RC pt. II is actually based conceptually on an R.M. Rilke quote. The idea of protecting your loved ones autonomy, not expecting their relationship to you to be based on your needs, but their own freedom as an individual. Both albums are built into longing and desire, romance at a soft observable distance.

J. Hubner: Do you do any live shows with the Future Museums tracks? If so, what does that set up look like? 

Neil Lord: Future Museums has a wide range of collaborators. I have a variety of players I bring together to perform material from deep-listening/healing ambient sets, to 1 song 30 minute kraut-improvisations. Have begun doing solo guitar performances as well after listening to a lot of Loren Connors.

J. Hubner: Will you be doing any extensive touring with TFWC or Single Lash in the coming months?

Neil Lord: I’ll be touring with both Single Lash and Future Museums this winter. TFWC has been discussing one-off travel shows, but no plans to extensively tour. I also tour pretty regularly playing guitar/synths with this amazing songwriter Jess Williamson who just put out a great record on Mexican Summer, so I’ll be out on the road quite a bit in the coming months. I really love touring.

J. Hubner: What’s a record that completely rewired your brain?

Neil Lord: Tago Mago by Can when I was 18 driving up to the tallest point in Arkansas, Mount Magazine. Really deeply affected me.

J. Hubner: So the rest of 2018 is going to be pretty busy for you?

Neil Lord: Between RC pt. II and the new Single Lash coming out in October, another Future Museums cassette on the amazing boutique ambient label Aural Canyon, writing and recording the next Single Lash LP, finishing up new Whale Claw recordings, all while touring with both Jess Williamson and Single Lash, I’d say I’m sufficiently booked up for the rest of 2018 hahah

Rosewater Ceremony Part II: Guardian of Solitude comes out October 19th. You can preorder the Ferric cassette edition over at Holodeck Records Bandcamp page. You can also preorder the new Single Lash Providence cassette or vinyl as well. Providence comes out October 26th via Holodeck Records.

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