a perfect mixtape

Music matters in A FUTURE PERFECT. It pops up throughout the play via discussions, jam sessions and live performances, but it also informs everything between A FUTURE PERFECT’s central group of friends. Max, Claire and Alex all share a musical history: friends since college, they bonded over musical tastes, and use stories of the shows they attended (and plan to attend) as a way to constantly reaffirm who they are to one another. There is a specificity to music that, more than perhaps any other art form, intrinsically links a person’s personality to their taste.

To help ground us even further in the world of his play, SpeakEasy asked playwright Ken Urban to assemble a track listing for an A FUTURE PERFECT mixtape. As anyone who came of age in the ‘80s and ‘90s could tell you, there’s no better way to introduce yourself to someone than with a mixtape, and so applying that same logic to the play seemed fitting. The list below provides a curated tour through three decades of indie, post-punk and alternative music, personal to the show’s characters, including both deep cuts and well-known singles from either side of the pond (and featuring one track from Urban’s own band, Occurrence). You’ll hear some of these tracks in the shows; others just hang in the air around the interactions. What results is a peek into who these characters were when they were before we meet them, and an idea, possibly, of where they’re heading.


JAN 9 – FEB 7

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1. Pavement, “Here”

A slow tear-jerker from SLANTED & ENCHANTED, a record that everyone cool in my dorm listened to over and over. I remember loving this song even more when some jock/Dave Matthews fan complained that it was a sh** song because the guitars weren’t tuned properly. To paraphrase Jad Fair, “it’s your guitar, do what you want with it.”


2. Bright Eyes, “Easy/Lucky/Free”

I’m not a huge Bright Eyes fan, but their 2005 more-electronic record really resonated with me, especially this song which makes me tear up. Some people thought the Occurrence track “Never Alone” sounded a bit Bright Eyes. I take that as a great compliment. I also like how much Conor Oberst hated George W. A reminder that being indie is more than haircuts, DIY and flannel, it is a politics that believes that life can be better.


3. The Fall, “Totally Wired”

I read that Pavement loved The Fall and that Mark E. Smith was pissed off because he thought Pavement ripped him off, so I had to track this band down. Yet another band (plus, of course, DOCTOR WHO) that made me wish I was English because everything seemed weirder and better there. I imagine Max and Alex spent a lot of time listening to the Fall during band practice.


4. Dinosaur Jr., “Little Fury Things”

I read about this album in the TROUSER RECORD GUIDE before I heard it. They described it as more metal than metal so when I heard it on a sh***y CD, I was disappointed it wasn’t as loud as I wanted it to be. But when I saw the band open for My Bloody Valentine, I got my wish. Max and Alex played a lot of Dinosaur Jr. covers.


5. The Cure, “Disintegration”

Being a homo indie rock kid meant you always felt a little on the outside of the outside. But straight and gay boys and girls can all agree that the Cure circa “Disintegration” are the best saddest band in the world. Max went through a Robert Smith phase and I picture him walking around the Cornell campus with some crazy big hair. I like to imagine the day Claire fell in love with that hair.


6. The Smiths, “Panic”

The same way my dad obsessed about The Beatles, I feel about The Smiths. Like Max, I can do a mean Morrissey and like Moz, I don’t eat meat. LOUDER THAN BOMBS is perfect. It’s the CD that Max found in Claire’s dorm room and sealed the deal.


7. New Order, “True Faith”

The SUBSTANCE compilation was my gateway into electronic music and I remember riding the bus listening to this on my cassette Walkman. I wanted to be Gillian Gilbert (or Chris Lowe) standing behind banks of keyboards and sequencers, just hitting a few keys and making all that noise and never breaking a sweat. It also made me wonder what it would be like to be in love.


8. Joy Division, “Atrocity Exhibition”

When you are a pissed off teenager growing up in suburbia and you hate everyone and everything, CLOSER becomes your soundtrack. Bernard Sumner’s guitar sounds like a metal cat being stroked then strangled. I wish I still had CLOSER on cassette but someone’s car stereo ate it.


9. Boards of Canada, “An Eagle in Your Mind”

A FUTURE PERFECT is about nostalgia and nothing conjures nostalgia for a past that never existed like the music of Boards of Canada. It’s a band I never tire of. I listened to MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO CHILDREN and the IN A BEAUTIFUL PLACE OUT IN THE COUNTRY EP a lot during the writing of this play. I also listen to these records when I am mixing tracks for Occurrence.


10. The Pixies, “Monkey Gone to Heaven”

Hard to believe DOLITTLE is 25 years old. Also another cassette eaten by someone’s car stereo. I imagine Max and Alex practicing their screams to this track.


11. My Bloody Valentine, “Only Shallow”

When I was a teenager, my doctor prescribed an allergy medicine that has since become illegal. I really enjoyed the side effects of that allergy medication. Nothing beat driving around in my mom’s Volvo in the early 1990s listening to this song at volume 11 while “treating” myself for “seasonal allergies.” I couldn’t hear for days after seeing them play in Trenton during the LOVELESS tour. Best night of senior year.


12. Occurrence, “Never Alone”


I wrote this with Mike Robb Grieco (a friend from college) for this play. I wrote the lyrics after overhearing a conversation on the subway between a man and wife. I had finished a draft of the play and I realized the couple on the subway were Max and Claire. I sang the melody into my iPhone and sent it to Mike. At our old practice space in Andover, MA, Mike and I hammered out the chords and arrangement. I realized I couldn’t sing it. Mike’s voice was better suited, plus details in the play resonated with Mike’s life. When he sang those words, it sounded true. He banged it out in two takes on a Sunday morning. Later, Wayne and I added some additional keys and oscillators so it better fit into our last record D E C K S. But my favorite version is the one with Mike alone. I can hear the sound of the room in that version.


13. Sonic Youth, “Bull in the Heather”

R.I.P. Kim and Thurston, the first couple of indie rock who taught us it was cool to be feminists.


To hear more of Occurrence’s music, including their most recent album D E C K S, visit occurrencemusic.com.