For This Band, Singing For Cable Is The Same As Singing As Its Supper

If you’ve watched TV in the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen the above ad for the cable-services bundler 1-800-OK-CABLE and wondered, “Future 86? Is that another band made especially for an ad?” This week’s New York Observer tracked down the group–and yes, it’s a real band, one that’s so real it shares a neighborhood with me. Future 86 mostly plays sets mixing originals and covers at bars in the hopping New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania area:

This spring, they got a call from Jennifer Brooke, cofounder of Forever Films, a Long Island-based production company. She was looking for a local band–nothin’ fancy–to sing on a commercial for 1.800.OKCable, a company that packages Internet, TV and phone service together. They weren’t selling out the Garden, but still…!

At first, Future 86 was apprehensive about using their songs to move product. But exposure is exposure. Ms. Alda and Ms. Brooke tried to make the process as gentle as possible. “We worked on it long and painstakingly,” Ms. Alda said. “It’s not natural for bands to say those words. We have to be respectful. We don’t want them to be shills; we want them to be a band.”

In due time, the lyrics Woke up this morning/No sunshine on my head became Woke up this morning/Cable’s Triple Play in my head. And Woke up this morning/Couldn’t wait to get out of bed became Craving TV and Internet and Phone/Is what I said. “You’re watching Future 86 but they happen to be talking about cable,” Ms. Brooke said.

Ah, the miracles of just-vague-enough lyrics and easy a/b rhyme schemes. But that easy transfer of subject is actually part of the point:

[Lead singer Courtney] Samborsky specifically defended the artistic integrity of “I Want It All”–which, like most of the band’s original material, she wrote with [guitarist Larry] Nimmo. “Everyone is searching for something that means something to them,” she said vaguely. “We’re all craving something more, better.”

So, so true, Courtney. Wait, though, your use of the word “crave”–does that mean you’re angling for a partnership with White Castle next? Because that would probably put you in square with the one down on 21st St. for life.

Bar Band Hits the Big Time, Sorta: Meet the Untroubled Troubadours of 1.800.OKCable [NY Observer]Future 86 [MySpace]