Wild Feathers impress with alt-country offerings at downtown hotspot
The Wild Feathers, an up-and-coming band from Nashville, Tenn. put on a dazzling performance for the lucky patrons at the Revolution Music Room in the River Market district on Halloween night.
The band is currently on tour in support of their self-titled debut album, which has been recognized by iTunes as part of its “2013 Rock Highlights.” The album was produced by Jay Joyce (Cage the Elephant, the Wallflowers) and recorded live, straight to analog tape in order to encapsulate the live energy the band emanates on stage each night.
The Wild Feathers are currently amidst a slew of headlining dates after touring with veteran acts like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.
However, there was a time, not too long ago, in which The Wild Feathers were on the ropes and unsure of their future.
The band was originally signed by Interscope Records but dropped soon after. Warner Bros. later scooped them up and put them in a situation that would give them the best chance to succeed.
“There were about six months in between [Interscope and Warner Bros.] where we didn’t have a label or any money or anything,” lead guitarist and pedal steel guitarist Preston Wimberly said. “We were just living on blow-up mattresses and hoping that Warner deal was going to go through and sure enough it did. Warner Bros. is just the perfect home for us. Their line up is rock bands that we want to be like.”
Wimberly sat down with The Forum at a bar in the DoubleTree hotel before The Wild Feathers took the stage Halloween night, to discuss recording their debut album and how those recordings sound when they are performed in front of audiences each night.
Wimberly said the band draws influence from bands of old and new. Established acts such as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Byrds and The Band give The Wild Feathers something to strive toward while newer artists like Ryan Adams, My Morning Jacket and Dawes give the band contemporaries to lean on.
“Modern bands that are playing their own instruments is so rare now, so that’s kind of something that we’re trying to keep alive and also bring back to some extent,” Wimberly said.
Those aspirations of genuine musicianship came out during the recording of the band’s debut album, with Wimberly describing the sessions as “intense” and “challenging.”
“[Joyce is] a great producer and he pushes you real hard to get the best stuff out of you. That’s what we loved about him too,” Wimberly said.
The band recorded live and straight to analog tape, save for a few overdubs.
“It kind of cool because it’s spontaneous, but it sounds like we sound live, which is what we wanted to do,” Wimberly said. “We didn’t want a slick, polished, harmony boy-band-sounding record, you know? We wanted it raw; like we sound live.”
Wimberly and his cohorts, who consist of Ricky Young (guitar, vocals), Joel King (vocals, bass), Taylor Burns (vocals, guitar) and Ben Dumas (drums), are clearly accomplishing their goal, as evidenced by their Halloween performance at the Revolution Music Room.
“We show up somewhere we’ve never even been,” Wimberly said. “And we have people in the front row singing [our] songs.
The band played for more than an hour and a half, putting on a memorable performance that included songs from their debut album as well as a slew of cover songs.
Half-way through The Band’s “The Weight,” The Wild Feathers motioned for a couple of the guys from the local opening band to help them finish the big song.
Stephen Neeper and Drew DeFrance of The Stephen Neeper and the Wild Hearts band joined The Wild Feathers to beef up the second-half of the song, to a roaring crowd.
The Wild Feathers had impressive chops on all of their instruments, which included multiple guitars, bass, drums and a steel guitar, played by Wimberly on select songs.
The group has unparalleled chemistry and genuinely has a great time performing on stage, as you could see them frequently smiling and reacting positively to the crowd.
One of the unique features of this band is that there is no designated lead singer. There is a different lead vocalist on virtually every song. When the band was in the studio preparing to record the album, they found that each of their voices had something unique to offer.
“We have all these different ideas that we throw to the table and then it’s like, ‘Well your voice sounds best on that part, so you sing that part. You sound best on this. This was kind of your idea, so you sing that.’”
“Somehow it works,” Wimberly said. “None of us are vocally trained or anything like that, which is what I think is beautiful about it, too. We just sing what sounds good to us, we don’t know if it’s right or not.”
It’s definitely right, as they harmonize during live performances while continuing to play their instruments. This composure and tightness is difficult to maintain, especially when trading off lead vocals between three different guys.
A cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Hey Hey What Can I Do ” saw the band putting their own spin on a classic song by a legendary band, using a steel guitar and beautiful harmonies.
After the show’s conclusion, the rowdy crowd immediately chanted for an encore and the band obliged, ultimately rocking out a few more songs and satisfying fans before the members left the stage.
The Wild Feathers will continue to tour around the country throughout November and some of December. Wimberly said he hopes the band can arrange a European tour sometime next year, hitting places like England and Germany.