The first time I saw Futo was at WonderRoot, about four or five years ago, back when when I was still playing in the local music scene. When I heard the name, I thought it was a full band, but instead, it was just one guy in a sporty sweatband and short running shorts, armed with a Stratocaster and a keyboard. As he was setting up, I remember thinking: “What the hell am I about to witness?”
Passion and personality oozed from the speakers that night and I was completely blown away. I’m not sure if he remembers this, but I called him “Bedroom Bowie.” He took the compliment with a smile and handed me his Singles EP to take home.
Since that time, Futo, aka songwriter Patrick Brick, has made consistent waves in the Athens scene. Every year for the past three years, Brick has released an album on 4/20 for our listening pleasure. 2014 brought us Dog Dreams, followed by last year’s excellent I Wish I Had Been Born as the Rain that Forms Rivers that Carve Out Canyons. And now, today, he’s unveiling his latest LP, Futo’s Greatest Hits.
As someone who’s been releasing music on a hallowed day for stoners, you’d think that Brick would be partial toking up. But you’d be wrong. “I actually haven’t smoked weed since my freshman year of high school,” he confesses. “It makes me feel like I’m dying”.
So why the 4/20 release date?
“It just works with my recording schedule,” he says with a shrug. “I usually take summers off and then start recording in late fall. By the time spring rolls around I have an album!”
Futo’s Greatest Hits opens with “The Internet Told Me I Have Cancer Again,” a billowing electropop number that highlights Brick’s knack for pairing serious subject matter with infectious music, shielding the listener from underlying themes of anxiety, depression, grief, and death. This tendency to mask darkness and pain with pastel tones and dreamy soundscapes is also evident on “Green,” whose lyrics read like a eulogy, as well as “Laying Down in the Shower,” where Brick reminisces about a friend who’s passed on.
But of all the songs on the record, it’s the penultimate track, “Man Seeking Necromancer,” that I keep returning to over and over again. Not only is the chorus mesmerizing, but Brick once again delivers a haunting message: “I won’t make it to the year 2100 / I’ll be long gone,” he muses moodily over playful synths and scattershot percussion. “No plane crashes / No car wrecks / No accidental death / I will succumb to the plague or cancer / nothing lesser.”
When I jokingly ask Brick if he’s sure if he won’t live that long, he comes clean: “I stole that shit from Paul McCartney because I was listening to Ram a lot when I first started recording. I don’t think I’d want to live to be over 100. I’ve never seen anyone cool with living that long — they all seem super miserable.”
As for the album title, Brick insists it’s “mostly just a jab at myself, as in I think this is as good as it’s going to get.”
While I understand where he’s coming from, I couldn’t disagree more. I admire that Brick not only wears his scars like a badge of honor, but also posts the lyrics to virtually every single song he’s ever written on his Bandcamp page. Different songs mean different things to different people, and everything is open to interpretation. I’m hard pressed to find another local act willing to do the same. And while this goes without saying if you’ve heard his catalogue, Futo’s records have gotten exponentially better, with Brick finding his niche as a songwriter along the way.
“I tried to base this album around it being the last one (even though it’s not going to be),” he says.
It damn well better not be.