This band writes its own passport to music
By Emily McLean
Written for Utah Stories April 2015
Foreign Figures isn’t your everyday band. They’re out to do something different, as their name implies. A foreign figure is something or someone unknown and this band knows that no matter how successful they are, there will always be someone new to reach with their music. They came together with a mutual desire to share their message of hope to the whole world. Lead singer Eric Michels explains, “We talk about bringing positivity, and that is important to us, but it’s not like all of our songs are 100 percent upbeat and positive. A lot of the lyrics I write and some of the feelings you get from our songs are melancholy, but the overall message is one of improvement and keeping your head up during tough times.”
Just over a year ago Eric would have told you he wasn’t pursuing music as a career. Despite his incredible talent, the pressures of life were weighing down. His brother Steve Michels, drummer, convinced him to come jam and Eric couldn’t resist the lure of his true calling for long. Steve had been playing with bassist Eric Espinel and they asked Seth Dunshee, an accomplished guitarist to join them. For a few months they wrote music and played local shows, preparing songs for an album. Jonny Tanner entered July 2014 initially as sound engineer, but fit in so well they asked him to join as guitarist and synth player. “We are completely united as a band to bring our music around the world – instead of having one leader and four followers, we are five co-leaders, co-writers, and co-performers,” says Steve.
With Foreign Figures now complete they hit the ground running. Producing a stunning music video with LanVi productions for their hit Come Alive. Their sound has elements and influences from around the world, yet it’s uniquely Foreign Figures. Jonny explains, “In “Come Alive”, we use a marimba and an African drum, Djembe. Our focus wasn’t for it to sound like a certain culture or region, rather the song was written how we wanted it and the extra instruments help make it stand out.” Combing through many types of sounds, the instruments were meticulously chosen for geographic accuracy. The band members are all meticulous in their own way, each having lead projects of their own previously. This organization shows in all they do, yet comes across as natural. They are truly genuine and exude such a positive energy it’s irresistible!
This shines through in their music. “We don’t hold to a specific genre, nor is that one of our goals. Part of that includes our use of cultural elements in our songs,” says Eric Espinel. Foreign Figures has the unique ability to do it all in house. “We have the opportunity to record, engineer and produce our music ourselves, which really allows us to make the songs sound exactly how we want them.” explains Jonny.
March 2015 Foreign Figures released their first EP, Come Alive to a sold out crowd at the Velour Live in Provo. Fans showed support with a majority donning official band t-shirts. The contagious spirit sprang straight from the stage into the audience as everyone jumped in time with the beat. Fans young and old couldn’t get enough, demanding an encore, then swarming the merchandise table. Ahead of the curve, USB bracelets are Foreign Figures main offering. Seth tells, “Along with our name, being able to record on our own is kinda what inspired having a USB bracelet in our merch instead of just a CD. We were able to include videos, album art, lyrics, and .wav and .mp3 of the music on the USB’s all while giving our fan something to wear and use later.”
Making music is Foreign Figures priority and sharing it with the world is their passion. In their short time together they have already had orders worldwide, won the 2015 Stereo Room Battle of the Bands, 2014 Battle of the Bands at The Wall winners, Finalist as KSL 5’s “Garage to Glory” band, showcased on the news after the Super Bowl and more. These figures are making strides and won’t be foreign for long.
Catch Foreign Figures in concert at The Stereo Room in Orem April 18th at 8:00 pm, Tickets $6.