by Donte Kirby
Baba Yaga Kostianaya Noga, grotesque witch of Russian folklore. For those who come to her hut, which can move around on chicken legs, she has one question- are you here of your own freewill or by compulsion? Your answer decides your fate, friend or foe, death or salvation. Thomas Johnson of Futurebirds calls the mythic creature a perfect allegory for their album Baba Yaga, “the record is kind of our Baba Yaga.”
Themes of the record are dealing with the life of a traveling musician. The band’s reaction to getting older, trying to navigate through the record industry and the release of Baba Yaga was the coming to shore after the tumulus seas and near shipwreck of that navigation. “It’s murky waters in the music industry,” says Johnson.
Johnson explains how every label they dealt with would end in a “weird situation where we couldn’t meet in the middle. We made it [Baba Yaga] ourselves and we wanted to keep a lot of the ownership and a lot of them didn’t want to give it up.”
The name Futurebirds stems from a poultry class band member Carter King had at the University of Georgia where he learned that Native Americans would predict the outcome of battles on the behavior of chickens. The band had no idea what the future held when they decide to shirk the labels and put out the album themselves.
Soon after, they got the call from Fat Possum Records- one of the labels that they originally couldn’t meet in the middle with. “The label is a great fit for us, it just took a lot to get there,” says Johnson.
Johnson muses on what he and the band learn from the difficult conception of Baba Yaga, “one thing learned in everything, you have to be willing to give a little bit….how to get out of our own way. Learning to trust the people you put around you.”
What’s next for the Futurebirds? Johnson says they’re “sending out a few demos, ton of new material ready to crank out. Capitalize on the momentum.” Their next show is in Ashville, NC and they’ll be touring through the Southeast this September. “We want to be able to do this as long as we can and that’s own assets. It’s not all about the money but it’s how to keep going.”