The Feelies are set to play the Queen this Friday, April 15th at 8:00 p.m. They have been described as one of the best rock’n roll bands that no one has ever heard of. Despite not being a household name, their music has influenced many groups, most notably R.E.M. Rolling Stone even ranked their 1980 album, Crazy Rhythms, 49th out of the top 100 albums of the 80’s. Quite an achievement, given the abundance of talent in that decade.
Formed in 1976 in Haledon, New Jersey, they were a fixture on the New York area punk/new wave scene. Their biggest commercial success came with the release of Only Life, and the song “Too Far Gone.” Noted Hollywood Director Jonathan Demme was “a fan of the band right from our first record, Crazy Rhythms, he contacted Bill and I…and talked to us about collaborating on a concert film…it did not get made, but we kept in touch over the years and asked us to be in the movie Something Wild,” said Glenn Mercer, lead singer and guitarist. “Too Far Gone” was on the soundtrack of the movie, Married to the Mob and Demme would use another Feelies’ song in the movie, The Truth about Charlie.
Mercer is the principal writer of the songs, but collaborates with Bill Million. Writing a song usually begins by “improvising with a guitar, finding a cord pattern that’s interesting and that suggests a melody and the melody in turn suggests words. It always starts with the music.” He is reluctant to be too analytical about a song’s meaning, but he concedes that if there is a “reoccurring theme, it would be one of alienation, trying to overcome it and trying to connect with people.” He wants the audience to interpret the songs themselves and even, from his perspective, there still is a certain mystery about them.
The sound is a raw and polished mix of styles that coalesce to create a unique style of music that bridges edgy punk and sleek new wave that continues to remain fresh.
The Feelies are not a nostalgic 80’s act. Having reformed after a 16-year hiatus, they began touring in 2008 and recorded a new album in 2011, Here Before. Mercer said, “we never really had an official break-up, we just thought we would take some time off and it turned into more than a decade. Then there was a lot of interest in the band. We had offers to re-issue our records; we had offers to license some songs and offers to perform…just seemed like everything lined up. A lot of the obstacles that prevented it before fell away.”
What can you expect from a Feelies show? “We cover our entire catalog; we do something from every record…two sets and an extended encore…well over a few hours of music.” According to Mercer, they have finished recording and mixing a new album and it should be released in the fall or early winter of this year. They will be playing new tunes from the yet-to-be-released album as well as their earlier songs. After all these years in the music industry, all their albums are now on one record label – Bar None Records. Mercer is looking forward to playing the Queen: The Feelies should not to be missed.