The first time I saw Future Islands, I was taken aback by how invested they were in what they were doing at that very moment. There was no pretense, no posturing, and they seemed to really enjoy playing music for a crowd that appreciated their music. People were freaking out; dancing like robots on Quaaludes, screaming and spraying beer cans like bottles of champagne.
What have you been reading lately?
Samuel T. Herring: The only author I’ve been searching out lately is Charles Bukowski. I’ve really been enjoying his poetry. I like his unapologetic style, and finding those bits of beauty in the raw. It’s given me a better grasp on some of my favorite writers, particularly Jonathan Ames. I don’t know if he was specifically influenced by Bukowski, but he has a similar ability to tell a story that, maybe, shouldn’t be told in good company. Or, maybe it should.
William Cashion: Lately I’ve been reading Geeta Dayal’s analysis of Brian Eno’s “Another Green World” for the 33 1/3 book series.
What sort of stuff do you read on tour?
Samuel T. Herring: I drive a lot of the time, here in the States, but I read 15 or 16 books the last time we were in Europe…Annie Dillard, “The Living”, Cormac McCarthy, “Blood Meridian”, Charles Bukowski, “South of No North”, “Factotum”, “Hot Water Music”, John G. Neihardt, “Black Elk Speaks”, Jean Rhys, “Wide Sargasso Sea”, Jack Gilbert, “The Great Fires”(probably the 20th time), Theodore Roethke, “The Far Field” (I’ve been taking this and “The Great Fires” on the road with me for a couple years now.) Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Second April”, Chuck Pahlanuik, “Pygmy”(little embarrassed about this, it was a gift!), various other books of poetry i can’t remember at the moment…
William Cashion: I don’t read very much on tour, but lately I’ve been really into reading anything by David Sedaris. It’s great reading on tour because he often writes about Raleigh, NC, which is pretty much where I grew up (I went to middle school & high school in Raleigh, living just outside of the city). I get all nostalgic reading his stuff… They keep me from getting too homesick.
Best book you read last year was (and why?)…
Samuel T. Herring: Both, “The Living” and “Blood Meridian” were probably my favorite novels I read this year. They both worked, I think as a good book should, to transport me to a certain time and place, and I really became interested in the setting of the stories more than anything. Although the styles couldn’t be more different, both Dillard and McCarthy have a truly amazing ability to paint a landscape with words. I also like these period pieces and family histories that show the reader a passage of time and do it well.
Could you give us a reading list of your five favorite books?
Samuel T. Herring:
Jack Gilbert – The Great Fires
Theodore Roethke – The Far Field
Jonathan Ames – What’s Not To Love
David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day
Jonathan Lethem – Fortress of Solitude(Haven’t read this is years, but it had a profound effect on me when i did.)
(I’m terrible with lists)
Has literature ever influenced your song writing?
Samuel T. Herring: Definitely, for me. It’s all second hand, though. I feel like what you take in is what you let out, whether it’s art or music or life, it comes out in what you create. I can’t say that I haven’t borrowed language or feelings from certain poets. But that’s really about sharing a better understanding of myself with my audience, because I read something that allowed me to understand what I was feeling and couldn’t put words to. Does that make any sense? We could go in circles forever. And that’s what it’s all about.