Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images Move out of the way because Beyonce is playing…
- Posted on Sep 21st 2009 3:00PM by Jason Cohen
"I don't discount the band that's playing on 'Crazy Rhythms,'" Million tells Spinner. "But this lineup played together for so long. That's the band that's first and foremost in my mind. When we recorded 'Crazy Rhythms,' that band hadn't really played [live] together."
The five-piece lineup long ago made songs like 'Fa Ce La' and 'Loveless Love' their own, even if they'd never played the entire album -- certainly not in order -- until ATP. Million says that in addition to that novel opportunity, they chose the older record due to the logistical concerns of multi-band events. "There's a lot of guitar changing for the songs on 'The Good Earth,'" he says. "We tune up enough between songs as it is."
But they never miss a note. Anyone who's caught one of the Feelies' recent shows -- they've played about a dozen since reuniting in July 2008 -- has seen and heard a seamless, timeless, frantic, subtle rock 'n' roll band, as if they'd secretly rehearsed each month since 1991. All reunions offer bands and fans the chance to hear old favorites, but with the Feelies, it's not so much about nostalgia for the songs as their completely in-the-moment gift for coalescing as a unit.
"I think we just have a natural ability to interact with each other," says Mercer. "It's probably one of the major factors in the band, the way we all listen to each other when we play." Million adds, "That's probably why we're still playing together."
Both 'Crazy Rhythms' and 'The Good Earth' -- originally put out by Stiff and Coyote/A&M, respectively -- were re-released this month, by Bar None in America and Domino in Europe. Like the band itself, the reissues are minimalist -- bonus tracks, including a cover of the Beatles' 'She Said She Sai'" and the 'Crazy Rhythms'-era 'Carla Bley demos' (named because they were recorded at the jazz great's home studio, not because she had any direct involvement), are only available as separate downloads with the purchase of each album. This is due to the band's dissatisfaction with A&M's previous repackaging of 'Crazy Rhythms', which included a cover of the Rolling Stones' 'Paint It Black' that was actually recorded by the second line-up.
"It was a big mistake," says Mercer. "We look at each album as having its own unique listening experience from start to finish." The band's two other albums, 1988's Only Life and 1991's Time For a Witness, are not officially in print. But, it's possible a fifth is on the way. "We're working towards that goal," says Mercer. "That was sort of the understanding, that we would have the idea of going back to the studio and making another record. It takes time."
That it does. With Million living in Florida and the rest of the band in the New Jersey area, it already took a good five to six years for the Feelies to go from talking about reuniting to playing actual gig. So if the record doesn't surface until 2012, no one would be surprised.
"We move at a lot different pace than most other bands," says Million. "Playing music is probably the only thing that we do fast."