Caroline Sessions Interview #3: Featherface and Westbound
The Caroline Sessions are doing some real good this weekend. Sunday (tomorrow) they’ll be hosting a Benefit for Japan at Caroline Collective, with funds going to the Red Cross. Plenty of bands and sponsors have volunteered their time, money, and effort to make this happen, and to help the victims of the tragedy in Japan as much as they can. Thanks so much to everyone taking part — it means a lot to us, and even more to the people of Japan.
Before the show, I talked with a couple of the bands who are going to be performing. Featherface and Westbound are two local bands who’ve just recently released their debut albums and are now gigging like crazy. Come check them out on Sunday at Caroline Collective and at their future shows!
Featherface is a local psych-pop band that started their musical career off with a bang last year. You can read about ‘em and find out where they’re playing next on their Website and their Facebook page.
SCR: Last year was super busy for you guys, with an album, an EP, and a music video released. And tons of shows. How does this year’s schedule look so far?
Featherface: Yeah, we definitely had a pretty crazy year, and we’re hoping this one’s even busier! We’ve got a lot of new music in the works that we’re really excited to get out there — we’ll be working on a new music video in the coming month or two, we’ve got several shows lined up, and we’re working on getting more. There’s also Summerfest, of course, which we’re really psyched to be a part of! We’re very excited about this year for Houston music. Awesome things are happening.
What are some major influences, musical or otherwise, on It Comes Electric?
This is a pretty difficult one for us, as we didn’t really seem to have any particular artists in mind. We were all listening to different stuff, but at the time, I remember us obsessing over Crosby, Stills, and Nash, as well as Simon and Garfunkel. There was definitely a general fascination with some of the early prog/psych-rock bands like Yes, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd.
I’d also point to that wave of hard rock bands in the early ’70s like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple as inspiring a certain heaviness that we sometimes strive for. I was crushing hard on Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs during the recording process, as well.
Other than that, I think we’re pretty much constantly influenced by artists like Radiohead, Elliott Smith, The Beatles, The Flaming Lips — at the time, we were still recovering from having our minds blown by them at Summerfest — Sigur Rós, Wilco, and way too many others.
You’ve been pretty entrepreneurial with your band — renting a space in a warehouse instead of a studio to save money and recording all on your own. Do you think you’ll be able to stick with this DIY method as you start growing as a band?
At this point, we don’t really have the budget to have much of a choice. I’m glad we’ve done it the way we have, though, since we love the writing and recording process. Putting out an album yourself and pushing for it definitely comes with its frustrations, but it feels good to come out with a final product that didn’t require anybody’s help.
The tiny metal room we basically lived in while recording definitely wasn’t ideal, and we’d love to get to the point where we don’t have to trip all over ourselves and deal with equipment breaking and malfunctioning. We love having our hands on every second of the music-making process though, and we’ve learned a lot about it so far, so I don’t think we’ll abandon that. We could definitely use a helping hand, as far as everything else goes!
What are you all listening to these days?
We’ve been pretty all over the place lately, but I’ll just throw a bunch out there. Grizzly Bear, Deerhunter, Surfer Blood, Neil Young, Kurt Vile, The Strokes — just saw them destroy at SXSW, too! — Cursive, David Bowie, Sparklehorse, Queens of the Stone Age, Aphex Twin, Beck, Against Me!, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Arcade Fire, and a lot more that I’m sure we’re not thinking of.
Where/when can we see you play next?
Our next show is on April 2nd at The Mink with a couple of our favorite Houston bands, Tax the Wolf and The Live Lights, as well as The Funky JA’s, who we’ve heard really good things about. We’ll be trying out some ridiculous new stage effects that we’ve conjured up, so it should be interesting! We’ve got a couple shows in the works very soon, and a few booked in the coming months, but the best place to keep up with those is either our website or our Facebook page.
What would you like to say to the victims of the disaster in Japan?
Just that there are people paying attention, and that they’re not alone. I’m sure we’ll be seeing an outpouring of support for the people of Japan, from good folks like the ones at The Caroline Sessions.
Westbound is the hard-rocking duo of Rebecca Ferguson and John Stoll, who released their debut album, Blackjack Road, last year. You can catch up with them on their website and on their .
SCR: You all released your debut album, Blackjack Road, in November of last year. How was the process of recording and writing? There was mention on your site of losing sleep…
Westbound: Blackjack Road has been such a wonderful journey. We wrote the album over a period of eight months or so, in different places all over Texas. We love the road and we travel a lot, and we write where the vibe feels right.
John Stoll: We recorded the album ourselves. I’m an audio engineer, and Rebecca is a music producer and graphic designer, so it seemed a natural choice to record, produce, and master the album independently. The album was recorded in four different places that I lived in throughout 2010, and there are so many people that we have to thank for making it possible.
Rebecca Ferguson: And as for that lost sleep…we recorded and produced the album on evenings and weekends, in between the day jobs. We learned a lot about priority and scheduling. People said — well, continue to say — that we’re crazy for always taking on so much. There are sacrifices, no doubt. We’ve learned a bit about that. But the reward is so gratifying. Seeing something we created, that’s such a true expression of ourselves, has really been incredible.
What were some influences — whether musical or otherwise — on this album?
Frankly, this album was influenced by life itself. The expression of us as artists and us as humans living our lives are perfectly intertwined; as life goes, so goes the music. We found ourselves in some intense places as we were writing these songs. That journey, above all else, is the backbone of this album.
Musical influences on this album span a wide range. At the forefront are artists like Scott H. Biram, Sue Foley, Hank Williams, Townes van Zandt, Seasick Steve, and Grace Potter. More subtle influences include the emotional sense — though not the sound — of Slayer, and the power and elegance of Ella Fitzgerald.
John, has anyone ever told you that you play the guitar like you’re mad at it?
John: Yes…but I promise I’m not [sheepish grin]. It’s one of the things that has developed with this very unique band and through the chemistry I share with Rebecca. There’s this crazy, untamed energy that develops when we play, and I feel I can let it go and just release it. I always feel a little bad for the guitar, though…
Rebecca: When John and I started playing as a two-piece band, he told me that, while playing acoustic guitar was nice, he would still need to have an outlet to “rock out.” Whenever we have a night that blows the roof off of a bar and gets people dancing, I always remind him of that conversation.
Are there some ideas for the next album in the back of your heads?
Absolutely! We are working on something very special to release in the next year or so. We have been researching and digging into the roots of modern forms of music and really taking a close look at our own roots and influences. This next album will be an exploration of that, in our own unique style.
What would you both like to say to the victims of the tragedy in Japan?
We’d like to send our best wishes, our love, our hope and our understanding to all those affected by this crisis. We see the world as a borderless place, a single community that we all live in, and we’re all in this life together. To those who have lost so much, we offer our sympathies and will help in any way we can.
When/where can we see you playing next?
We are very happy to announce quite a few upcoming dates. We’ve got several in the local area, and a few out on the road. As always, check our Website for the latest!
- 04/01/11 — Bryan, TX, at The Downtown Bryan First Fridays Festival
04/09/11 — Clear Lake, TX, at The Cellar Wine Bar
04/16/11 — Clarksdale, MS, at The Juke Joint Festival
04/23/11 — Houston, TX, at Bayou City Farmer’s Market
04/28/11 — Houston, TX, at The Doshi House
04/30/11 — Houston, TX, at D’Amico Dance
05/08/11 — Houston, TX, at Highland Village Farmer’s Market
05/13/11 — Clear Lake, TX, at The Cellar Wine Bar
05/14/11 — Clear Lake, TX, at Chelsea Wine Bar
05/28/11 — Rockport, TX, Headlining the Rockport Food and Wine Festival
05/29/11 — Houston, TX, at Discovery Green Farmer’s Market
06/11/11 — Houston, TX, at the Houston Beer Festival
06/18/11 — Houston, TX, at Crazy Frogs Saloon
06/24/11 — Eureka Springs, AR, at the Cat House Lounge
06/25/11 — Eureka Springs, AR, at the Cat House Lounge
07/23/11 — Houston, TX, at Crazy Frogs Saloon
07/30/11 — Harlingen, TX, at Private Party
08/05/11 — Granbury, TX, at Barking Rocks Winery
09/11/11 — La Grange, TX, at The Bugle Boy