The Feelies - Here Before (April 21, 2011)
The New Yorker proclaimed the Feelies "one of America's most beloved alternative rock bands," Rolling Stone listed their groundbreaking debut Crazy Rhythms as one the 50 best albums of the Eighties, and a small army of jangling, pastoral, and frenetic indie-rockers have claimed them as an influence over the last three decades. Mostly, though, the Feelies remain an American original. "From their Passaic County fastness, the Feelies imbued nerdy suburban goofiness with spare downtown cool, rocking out all the while," wrote Robert Christgau. But perhaps percussionist Dave Weckerman said it best, speaking to Jersey Beat fanzine back in 1986: "Being in the Feelies is like living in a pyramid. Nothing ever changes and no one ever grows older."
Bar/None released Here Before in 2011, ushering the Feelies into the 21st Century following a 20-year hiatus. The label has also reissued the Feelies' four classic previous albums - Crazy Rhythms, 1986's The Good Earth, 1988's Only Life, and 1991's Time For A Witness, which are available here.
On February 24, 2017, Bar/None will release the Feelies' sixth album, In Between, and the band recently gave fans a first taste from that album with the song "Been Replaced." We asked Stan Demeski - the Feelies' drummer since 1986's The Good Earth - how new songs come together these days, with the band spread out over five cities in three states.
Stan Demeski: Since we started playing again in 2008 we’ve had enough shows where we would have to get together several times a year to prepare for them. So we do see each other more than you might think. Both members who don’t live in the area anymore still have family here as well so there’s reasons other than the band to come back. If someone has a new song and feels like playing it at rehearsal or sound check, we give it a shot. But usually demos are sent out before we play a new song. For myself, I work on them at home and try to learn the song forms. If Glenn has a drum part on his demos, I try to play what he has. I might change it to fit my style a bit or to how I think it could be more effective. That’s mostly changing the bass drum part to fit with the rhythm guitar part. Bill will record guitar only demos at home, put them on CD and send them to the other band members. Glenn does a similar thing but his demos tend to have more to them since he writes the lyrics and most of the melody lines. Some of his demos are almost complete songs. We did some demos for this new LP with just the three of us recording. I think Glenn put bass on those tracks to fill them out and get a better idea of the arrangements.
Q: Looking at the entire timeline of the Feelies, the past few years have turned out to have been some of the group's most prolific. Is the band just in a good place now, or is there a sense of urgency that no one is getting any younger and there may only be time for a few more releases?
Stan: A bit of both. I wish we would have gotten back together sooner but it didn’t work out that way. I think not playing music to make a living certainly frees things up. And we are getting older for sure. Glenn and Bill both seem to write more now, I’m not sure why. Bill has already mentioned working on 'the next record.'
Q: The Feelies have always been a band that radiated humility, in everything from the band's onstage persona to its interactions with its audience to the very humble interviews we'd read from Glenn and Bill. I'm just wondering if, when you're by yourselves,does the band every start talking about its legacy and where the Feelies fit into the pantheon of American rock?
Stan: I don’t, that’s for sure. And it’s their band, I just get to play in it. They can think about those points if they like, but I don’t think they do.