Between interviews, online submissions and press packages, this tour manager has filled out a couple band biographies in her day. They usually consist of the same stagnant questions asking you to sum up the entire band on a line that has room for about 11 words. Somewhere towards the bottom there is always, always the dreaded question ‘Who are your musical influences?’. It’s a tough question to answer because whatever you put down will automatically be compared to your current sound and categorize you. Saying you’re influenced by a certain someone can be a tough thing. You want to the world to know that this person made something that helped you be who you are today, but never that you’re trying to emulate them.
So how do you allow yourself to recognize your influence? Where does paying homage to a group or genre stop and how do you emerge from it and bring something new to the game? It’s a tough balance, one that I’m sure you could recognize if someone is doing it wrong. It’s probably not fully on purpose, sometimes people just love a band so much that they end up sounding a little like them. But anyone who frequents live shows can tell you about a time when they caught a new act and found themselves asking ‘these guys sound a lot like_______. Wait, is this a cover band?’. It happens all the time, and I think learning the balance between influence and tribute is an true art, especially since most of my favorite music comes from the eras of long ago.
So today I’d like to introduce you to my favorite new da vincis of this difficult art form, The Wild Feathers. In every piece of press I have read about these guys they seem to be compared to someone else. Petty, The Band, The Eagles, Neil Young, basically any great american rocker of the 60s or 70s has been listed on every article they’ve been mentioned in, or the fact that they’ve opened for Bob Dylan. It’s like one big name-dropping party out there when it comes to writing about these guys. They are certainly part of this great revival of Americana spirit rock that I am just in love with, but there’s so much that sets them apart from their predecessors.
I got their album late last week and was so happily surprised to love the whole thing. Full-bodied, rich harmonies are the star of it, each of its 4 vocalists have a different variance of raw, powerful voices. From start to finish, I have no complaints (Okay, the writer in me has one complaint regarding the lack of biography info available on the interweb about these guys. If TWF are reading this, call me, I’ll write it for you, I know the important questions to answer. For instance, who is that darling blond bearded fellow that comes in at 4:30, aka the best part of the song, on ‘The Ceiling’? What’s his name? More importantly, can he come sing to me at my house?). The Ceiling is the first song I’ll be giving you today, it’s their single and for good reason. It’s the song I’ve been getting ready with in the morning, it’s just enough to pep me up without feeling like a bad alarm clock. The second is ‘Hard Wind’ and it’s the type of song that makes me want to put on my beat up cowboy boots and go kick some ass. The third is only a trailer for their album, but features my other favorite song from the album ‘How’, which is a perfect showcase for the softer, soulful side of these boys.
We all owe a debt and gratitude to the people who came before us, the ones who took the road less traveled and paved the roads we stand on. It’s important to not forget that. But it’s more important to realize that the best way to say thank you is to go out in the world and create something new, to take that road even farther. I think that’s what these boys have done perfectly and I’m betting that one day in the not-so-distant future, some new band is going to get asked ‘Who are your musical influences?’ and they will answer ‘The Wild Feathers’.