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Interview: The Felice Brothers – Life Before, After And In The Dark
Although brother Simone parted ways with his band of brothers, Ian and James Felice still belong to the indie folkin’ subway-to-stage strumming band. I got a chance to ask them some questions about how they got to where they are today and the recent release of their new album Life In The Dark…
Did you ever think you’d climb the indie folk ladder from subway performers to a successful touring band?
I think we did expect to make it. Looking back, we were incredibly lucky, but at the time we were just young and arrogant enough to feel like some measure of success was inevitable.
What was the most memorable and exciting tour you travelled on? What did you learn from the acts that opened for you (or the acts you opened for) and do those bonds still hold strong today?
Our first tour with Bright Eyes in the fall of 2007 was our very first serious tour. We couldn’t believe how kind everyone in the band and crew were to us. We learned a lot about how to go about touring from them, and formed a lot of long lasting friendships over those couple of weeks. I still get a warm fuzzy feeling thinking about it to this day.
Is there a particular music festival that you especially look forward to every year as performers? Would your answer be different if you were in the crowd as fans?
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is always a pleasure. I’ve never actually been to a music festival as a fan, but if I were to go, I think that would be the one I would choose.
What artists/bands are you listening to lately? What were the major influences for Life In The Dark?
Been listening to Paul Simon’s new record all day, and very much enjoy it. Life In The Dark has a lot of Neil Young’s influence in it. Particularly Tonight’s The Night.
What changes did you face growing up in Palenville and transplanting to the NYC music scene and how did it shape you as the band you are today?
For a couple of months in the summer of 2006 we lived in an unfinished basement in Williamsburg, near the L train. This allowed us to quickly get to our favorite places to perform in the Subway. After that highly unstable living situation collapsed, we commuted to the city on weekends and mostly couch surfed (I slept in our short bus to protect the gear). We still often travel to the city to perform, see friends and eat good pizza, but our home is, and has always been the Hudson Valley.
I think the Felice Brothers are probably shaped more by the fact that we never were a ‘Brooklyn’ or ‘NYC’ band. Sometimes I actually wish we did live in the city. It seems like such an exciting and vibrant scene down there, and occasional I get splashed with a melancholy pang of FOMO.
I’d say that we have spent our lives and careers living in or near the relatively obscure rural towns of upstate New York, is more indicative of music we play and the people we are.
Interview By Scott J. Herman