New bands could take a lesson from FEEL, a rock group that made its debut album its own way – without a record company or an A&R guy looking over its shoulder.
Singer-guitarist Scot Sax and bassist Mark Getten were previously in a band called Wanderlust, a guitar-driven band that turned heads in Philadelphia and New York. When they decided to move on, Sax signed a writing deal with Warner/Chappell. But then he grew tired of writing songs for other artists, so he called on Getten and invited him to Los Angeles, where they began playing acoustic shows around town.
Before they knew it, one of their old Wanderlust songs, “I Am the Summertime,” was chosen for the “American Pie” soundtrack. Sax and Getten went back into the studio, recorded guitar parts with producer Dusty Wakeman and hastily put together a new band, Bachelor No. One.
Again, just when it seemed things were taking off, Sax made another big choice: He changed the name to FEEL.
After adding guitarist-vocalist Billy Alexander and drummer Dave Schafer, FEEL finally had the feel of a “real” band. Their first show, at the Bitter End in New York, was scheduled September 2001 – nine days after the terrorist attacks. Galvanized by the events, FEEL went on with the show and found inspiration for songs that would make up their self-titled Curb album (released Oct. 1).
Since then, their first single, “Won’t Stand in Your Way,” saw airplay on several AAA radio stations nationwide, and now the follow-up, “Got Your Name On It,” is making headway. In its first week on the Hot A/C charts, it was the No. 6 most-added song.
Pause & Play caught up with Sax, who sheds some light on FEEL and other topics:
P&P – Does it take a lot of gumption to record an album on your own and then shop it around, like you guys did?
Sax – “It takes pure belief in the music … not only from the band, but from a producer with a good studio. Everything begins and ends with love, belief and passion for what you’re doing I guess. That’s how it’s always been for me. Let’s face it … no one’s ever gonna come knocking on my door asking for an album. It would be nice, but I’d be waiting a long time! The four of us just believe in FEEL. It’s really that simple.”
P&P – What was your manifesto for the album?
Sax – “To make a record that wouldn’t sound dated two or 20 years later. To make a record of songs that the band loved playing live. To make a record that captured a moment in time, a record people would want to listen to for years to come.”
P&P – How did you end up with Curb, a label known for country music?
Sax – “Our manager, Bill Hons, a friend and early believer in the band, heard that his friend, Bob Catania, was working at Curb’s L.A. office and that they were thinking of branching off into the rock world. He brought Bob to the studio while we were recording and after a couple weeks Bob really ‘got’ what we were doing. We all agree that not only is Curb a label that is much more down home and people-oriented but also a label that is driven more by the music than anything else. And having Bob Catania in charge of FEEL at the label, that is a true blessing. Ask anyone in the business (and we did!) what they think of him and it’s pretty amazing. He has a great reputation for being a cool guy and getting the job done. Oh, and … he actually loves music! Now that’s rare.”
P&P – Wanderlust, you have said, didn’t work out because it got stressful trying to fit into what radio wanted and make the label happy. What makes FEEL different?
Sax – “There was a bit of consciousness with Wanderlust to ‘fit in’ somewhat to what was happening musically on the radio. Just a bit with cranking up the guitars ’cause that’s what was getting played on the radio in the mid to late 90s. So RCA heard that and liked that but then wanted us to really push that side of us harder. It turned into something that was more about what they ‘needed’ not about Wanderlust. It’s a shame they missed the point. Great band, if I do say so myself.
“FEEL, on the other hand, is a bit more rooted in the songs … the lyrics … the musical aspects. We are clueless to what the ‘in’ sound is. The worst thing that could happen is for Curb to want us to push that further! Hooray, we get to be even more ourselves! I think both the band and the label are just a little more down to earth.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “My own. I recorded in a studio when I was 13, played all the instruments and they pressed vinyl and I paid for it all! Had to sell my drums to pay for it, too.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “My dad took me, when I was like 6, to see Paul McCartney and Wings. Still the best concert ever!”
THE WORST JOB I’VE EVER HAD: “Cleaning urinals at a hotel.”
ORDER “FEEL”: Click here.
ON THE WEB: feelband.com.
More updates: Avalon, Tami Neilson, Beach Slang, BRKN Love, Mary J. Blige, Bing Crosby, Change, etc
More updates: Joe Henry, Marcus King, Lily Kershaw, Poliça, Sarah Brightman, Jerry Leger, Simple Minds, Grateful Dead, etc