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Class of 2017: Future Nuns

Class of 2017: Future Nuns

Kevin J. Elliott

Time is a flat circle. Everything we have done or will ever do, we will do over and over again.

Here I sit in a Bourbon Street booth in 2017 with the Future Nuns, stuck in Nietzsche’s Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. You must look at the past and see everything that’s come before to truly understand the Future Nuns… or do you? The déjà vu I’m feeling, remembering how exciting the scene was in this building, in this booth, in 2007, is unsettling, but nostalgic. Though it’s been a decade since the first generation of Washington Beach buzz bands—Necropolis, Times New Viking, and Psychedelic Horseshit—kicked around in the legendary dive, it feels exactly the same.

Heck, Future Nuns even look back to two decades ago in 1997: being as acerbic as Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, wiry and quick as Gaunt, and as darkly smart as V-3. But Bernie’s is a hole the ground, Stache’s is a Smokes-4-Less, and Little Bros. is a brand new beer hall. Jim and Jerry are gone, Used Kids have moved from the strip, and all that’s left are echoes. But those echoes are strong, and they live in the jerky cadence of Future Nuns.

Instead of pursuing a degree as an undergrad, Alex Mussawir studied records and bands, poems, fiction and diary entries, but admits to barely knowing how to tune his guitar. Long before Future Nuns, Mussawir had already performed in the trenches, as a member of the Goners (who released an eponymous tape only known as a classic in underground lore) and also the proto-supergroup, Yuze Boys, which also boasted Winston Hightower and Jeffrey Kleinman of Nervosas as soldiers. Encountering boredom, domestication, and a yearning to focus on writing, he took a break from music.

“There were a lot of small failures that led to the end of Goners, including losing our van in Chicago,” says Mussawir. “Bela, at Anyway, really wanted to do a Goners record, but it was just bad luck towards the end there.”

Inspired by writers like Raymond Carver and Lydia Davis, Mussawir’s writing—poems and short stories that deal in the trivial and quotidian, the simple and minimal—do well in the setting of a repetitious and raw pop song. In fact, the catalyst for Future Nuns came from being booked for a reading, in opening for old friend Hightower. Instead of a traditional reading, Mussawir wrote some songs with former Goner guitarist, Aaron Miller. Writing a few more, and recruiting Blood Noize drummer Danielle Gaglino, bassist Kyle Bergamo, and keyboardist Laura Payne (also a writer), Mussawir formed Future Nuns. But would it stick?

We are victim to cycles only if we allow it. Everything we have done or will ever do, we must do better. Instead of just saying yes to fate and circumstance, we must be fighting against it. Through will to power or satisfaction or resistance.

Therein, the passion to explain the absurdity of modern life, the folly of the Internet (hence very little Future Nuns presence online), laughing and throwing flowers into the fire is key to the function of the “fun” in keeping Future Nuns progressing. Though Mussawir had “incredibly minor” success as a writer, his prose is just as important to the final product—a series of incendiary live shows on Bandcamp—as it is to the musicianship, which he prefers to be spontaneous and biting, humorous and buzzy.

“I love that everyone in the band is pretty much untrained,” says Mussawir, “What is usually seen as a flaw, for us is a personality trait, or a style. A lot of the motivation for the band comes from working at Ace of Cups and seeing all the bands. Instead of seeing bands and getting a good idea, it’s the opposite. The band was formed out of the idea that I’m not going to use a pedal board, or not be influenced by what’s around.”

Yes, being stuck inside the Bobo with the Summit blues again is a consequence for a band as cool, calm, and literate as the Future Nuns. But surprisingly, they’re not too cool for school. There’s no pretense, even when Mussawir is clever—“There’s 7 billion assholes in the world, but you only have one”—instead, it’s insanely earnest. There’s an album coming, but not being rushed. A tour, but in grotesque collaboration with equally esoteric American Jobs. It’s cheap entertainment, budget rock, or affirmation art-punk. We should all welcome it. Because in these turbulent times, we need to learn to laugh and cry at the same time.

Let’s not question mankind and the struggle. Let’s just have a good time while we walk hand-in-hand into extinction.

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