Previously I’ve mentioned Philly’s Blood Feathers a handful of times on Noise Narcs, but only to castigate myself for not having posted on them. But I’m glad I waited, since guitarist/singer Drew Mills was kind enough to answer a few questions from the road of their Summer’s End tour.
Blood Feathers plays harmonized stompin’ rock with monster hooks, which never veers into dreaded roots rock territory despite influences as far afield as Bo Diddley and classic country. That members of the band have moonlighted in both Bob Wills and Tom Petty cover bands is fitting. Mostly, it’s just good old rock and roll, and we at Noise Narcs can attest that they put on a great show, from their “reunion” show at Johnny Brendas that my not-quite-yet girlfriend and I made out through, to their stunning blast of a ’50s cover gig at Philebrity’s Under the Sea Dance, which was worth every minute of the 40 minute walk in the freezing cold and snow to snag a cab.
Their new album, Goodness Gracious, is a lock for a spot on my top ten of ’10 list and has already become a staple of any Noise Narc road trip. Out now, via Philebrity Label, it comes highly recommend. Stream it for free at Apollo Audio and then buy it (and their equally great debut, Curse and Praise) via the Blood Feathers site.
How did you guys move from two-piece plus help of Curse and Praise to today’s expanded and solidified lineup? And how has that changed the process of writing and recording an album?
Drew Mills: Ben and I had been playin’ together for quite a while before we even considered having other players. Once the music started to grow toward a larger more rock n’ roll vibe, we clearly needed some players. And, fortunatley enough, we found the best players we know, that happened to be our best friends who wanted to play good old rock n’ roll.
Goodness Gracious took me a beat longer to get into, with its lush, dense sound, but has grown on me like a second skin. Was that denser sound a result of the bigger band? What else has moved you into the direction?
DM:Definitely a result of the added fellas. There’s a limit to what two dudes can do. Pretty much the sky is the limit with a full ensemble. “Touch the sky BLUE MOUNTAIN.”
[Natives of the Delaware Valley will remember ads from the area's closest ski
Back in March, PhillyBurbs claimed that your next release would be a Christmas album, coming out, well, soon. Any truth to that?
DM: There was talk…
Best Philly bar, non-band owned/employed-at division: Kurt’s half of the 700. [Blood Feathers' multi-instrumentalist Tracy Stanton owns the other half]
Best Philly bar, non-Port Fishington/Northern Liberties division: Surf n’ turf, West Philly, but only when the flyers are doin’ well. [Well, I thought we at Noise Narcs had a pretty encyclopedic knowledge of Philly bars but we're stumped. -Ed]
I think outsiders mistakenly see Philly as a town with only a few camps: hip hop, freakfolk, Hall & Oates, neo-soul, etc. Where do you see yourselves in the Philly music continuum? Who are the Philly bands that you’ve been digging lately?
DM: Growin’ up space rock was huge in Philly… Still has a bit of that. As for us, we wanna bring dancing back to the gigs. Instead of just staring. I wish Gerhardt [Koerner of HiSoft] would make a new record.
We’ve also have been pretty obsessed lately with great songs that feature whistling. “Sea Legs” certainly fits the bill, as does Drew’s lip work on Benjy Ferree’s “The Grips.” Can we expect any more whistling from the Blood Feathers?
DM: I whistle all the time… God damn listen to Otis or Sam Cooke whistle. That was Benjy on “The Grips,” but I co-wrote the song with him.
How’d you end up doing tracking for Goodness Gracious at Ethan Hawke’s island? I’m imaging a cottage out of Gattaca.
DM: Absolutely amazing experience…and a lucky one too. Totally remote. [And so the question of which member of Blood Feathers never saves anything for the way back goes eternally unanswered.]
Back in February, you guys played Philebrity’s Under the Sea adult prom, and unearthed a boatload of ’50s rock covers. Never have I had such a great time while simultaneously worrying like a mama hen about how much work a band put into a one-off show. As fun for you guys? Will you be peppering ’50s covers into your upcoming Summers End Tour?
DM: That’s what i’m talkin’ ’bout… I bet you we’re dancing too. It was a lot of work… but, really fun work. We do a couple, depends on the vibrations of the crowd.
And dance we did. Do your own Blood Feathers dancing as part of their Summer’s End tour:
9/2: w/ Red Lion and Joseph War – Atlanta, GA | The Ballroom Lounge at Highland Inn
9/4: w/ Greer’s Ferry – Little Rock, AR | White Water
9/7: w/ TBA – Chicago, IL | Ronny’s Bar
9/11: Northern Liberties Festival – Philadelphia, PA
9/18: Private Party – Arlington, VA | Arlington Drafthouse
9/24: W/ Field Music and Creeping Weeds – Philadelphia, PA | Johnny Brenda’s
9/25: Philadelphia Film & Music Festival – Philadelphia, PA | Crane Arts Building
10/7: w/ The Walkmen & AA Bondy – Boston, MA | Royale
10/8: w/ The Walkmen & AA Bondy – Montreal, QC | Cabaret Juste Pour Rire
10/9: w/ The Walkmen & AA Bondy – Toronto, ONT | Phoenix Concert Hall
10/23: w/ The Walkmen & Japandroids – Philadelphia, PA | The Trocadero
11/20: w/ Chuck Prophet – Philadelphia, PA | World Cafe Live