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Interview with The Feelies: Get the feely effect with band member Glenn Mercer

Interview with The Feelies: Get the feely effect with band member Glenn Mercer


Jul 15, 2016 Zoe Miller

Though New Jersey isn’t the pride and joy of America (for reasons that will forever elude the Jersey-born), many talented actors, musicians, and politicians have stemmed from this small state. The Feelies, from Haledon, New Jersey, were formed in 1976 in the early stages of the punk movement. Though early punk notes and styles are detectable, their music is more aptly defined by its minimalism and mellower energy than, say the Ramones. The group was dubbed “The Best Underground Band in New York” by the Village Voice in 1978, subsequently releasing their first album “Crazy Rhythms” on Stiff Records. After disbanding in 1992, The Feelies reunited in 2008 to open for Sonic Youth at Battery Park. They have most recently released their new EP, “Uncovered,” containing covers of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Doors, and Patti Smith-Ivan kral. They are playing at SummerStage on July 18 with Beach Fossils. The show is free and runs from 6 pm to 10 pm. Glenn Mercer, vocalist, guitarist, and one of the founding members, was kind enough to answer a few questions for Eventcombo.

What are some of the major changes in the music industry you’ve witnessed since you first began?

Glenn Mercer: The biggest change was the conversion to digital and the subsequent emergence of online file sharing. Since then, everything changed - how we acquire our music collections, how we listen to music, the amount of time and effort we spend, the core relationship that we have with music has been altered.

How has your style developed and evolved over the years? How did the disbandment in 1992 have an influence on the 2011 album?

GM: I think the core elements of our style - the rhythmic quality of the parts, the percussion textures, the approach to the guitar solos, the interaction between our guitars, the vocal placement, etc. - have been consistent throughout the years. There probably has been some degree of evolution, but I haven't analyzed the progression, so I can't really say. I think the time we took off influenced our last record because it provided us all with a renewed sense of appreciation for what we can accomplish together. Getting back together inspired us in our efforts.

Your sound is very versatile, from the fast paced tracks on “Crazy Rhythms” to the more relaxed vibe of “The Good Earth” and “Here Before,” among others. What songs, or even what pace, is the most enjoyable to play?

GM: I enjoy performing everything equally and I especially like going from one extreme to the other, from the slower and quieter songs to the faster and louder songs. We structure our sets to maximize the build-up by establishing a momentum throughout the show.

What performance experience and/or location has been your favorite? Who have been some great bands to perform with?

GM: We've played in a lot of great and legendary places, from CBGB to Carnegie Hall to performing on Broadway, but my favorite was Maxwells in Hoboken. It was like a home base for us for many years. Playing with Lou Reed was a personal highlight for me, along with our shows with REM.

Numerous people have mentioned your cult following throughout the past 40 years. How do you think your die-hard fans have an influence on your music? What efforts go into creating each album?

GM: Having a loyal fan base helps to provide us with an extra incentive to work hard on our music. We take our time and often spend years writing and recording our records. We work at a pace that feels comfortable for us.


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