FEELS Talk New Record, Road Rage, Romanian Grandmothers



by Cool-Tite
Photography by Crystal Lopez & Sergio Estrada

It’s no secret that Feels are one of our favorite bands around. It’s been just over a year since Feels released their killer, self-titled debut album (a Cool-Tite pick for Best of 2016), and they’ve shown no sign of slowin’ up even as some members focus on other projects.  We recently had the chance to sit down with the band before a local show to see what they’ve been up to.

We met up on a steamy August night at the new(ish) Frogtown venue Zebulon, where Feels would be closing out the evening after openers Residual Echoes and Rank / Xerox. After snapping a few photos before the sun had set, we crept down to a basement area to catch up on all things Feels.

Amy Allen (bass), Shannon Lay (vocals/guitar), Laena Geronimo (vocals/guitar), Michael Rudes (drums)

So is there anything you can tell us about the new record?

Shannon Lay: It’s longer than the last record. [laughs]

Laena Geronimo: 12 tracks so far. I think this one was super collaborative and we all really joined forces on this one, and that’s pretty exciting.

SL: We recorded with Tim Green at Louder Studio in Grass Valley, which is like an hour north of San Francisco – a beautiful spot. We spent like a week there working on it – it was great.

Did you feel like it was a nice environment to make music and collaborate, and get it done?

LG: It was so nice just to not have the distraction of the city, and also just to, like, hang out together. You see it through every step of the way together.

Amy Allen: And also something worth noting is that, when you just wake up and you’re there at your destination and you don’t have to drive anywhere too. It was really relaxing in a way to not commute at all. You’re just in such a good mood, you’re like, “Wow, I feel so relaxed!” It’s like, yes, because you haven’t been on the highway at all.

Because the LA life is so about moving around. You’re there just to make music.

LG: Yeah just being able to focus on that.

AA: Getting places is not as fun as being in places, I think.

Michael Rudes: Haha yeah, good point.

AA: Getting there is kinda annoying sometimes – you get road rage, you know? You don’t need that.

SL: Yeah, no road rage. We had a porch, we would just get up and and look out at this, like, expanse of manzanita trees that went out.

Is it kind of remote?

MR: Yeah, he’s like in the country side.

SL: You could see the dang Milky Way!

You could see stars?! No way!

MR: You could see all the stars

AA: It was soooo dark. It was amazing.

Well we heard you guys recorded the last album in like a day. Other than taking a week this time, anything else you did differently in approaching this album?

LG: Um, I mean, well the whole approach is different. Like, the way we recorded the last one was we really wanted to sound like a live show – capture lightning in a bottle. And we have been playing those songs a long time. This one, we really wanted to be able to experiment with different things and explore ideas. A lot of them were newer songs – some of them we started working on like two weeks before we went out to record and stuff. It was a lot more of a creative process in the studio too.

Had you played all of them live?

LG: No, we still haven’t played a few of them live!

It sound like you guys are excited about this.

AA: Definitely. It’s like when you graduate from 5th grade and you’re ready for middle school, or something, and you’re like, “Alright, we’re doing this now!” You know?

[all laughs]

LG: When I graduated from 5th grade though, it was terrible. My Romanian grandmother was visiting and she had spent probably, like 6 months hand-sewing this ridiculous dress for me to wear that had a bonnet with it and everything, it had like ruffles. And it was based on this picture she has in her house that was of a woman from the 1800’s that I guess, at some point, I was like, “wow, this is cool.” I got into this huge fight with her because I was like, if I wear this I will never ever live it down. And she cried! I didn’t wear it though. [laughs]AA: Was that the same dress you wore when you were Little Bo Peep?

LG: Yes! I used it later as a Little Bo Peep Halloween costume.

AA: So just so you get an idea what kind of dress it was.

LG: Haha she expected me to wear that to school.

‘Cuz you guys have known each other for a minute, right?

LG: Yeah, we’ve known each other since high school, and Mike too. And Shannon, Mike, and I have played in a band together for like 6 years, so we’re all real close.

Are you all from Southern California?

LG: Yeah, natives.

AA: Valley kids.

We’re from the IE, so…

LG: I went to a really cool punk festival there when I was like 16.

Nice, was it at the Showcase [Theatre]?

MR: I used to go to the Showcase a lot! Used to go to a lot of hardcore shows over there. I know what’s up with the IE.

LG: Circle Jerks played, I remember that. Oh, and, what was that band? Umm… The Distillers!

Oh yeah, that was Inland Invasion! We were at that one.

LG: That’s amazing! I, at the time, had bleached hair down to here and, like, a parasol – that’s all.

That was a straaaange festival.

You guys go on the road a lot – how do you decide what to listen to on the long drives. 

LG: Whoever’s driving gets to choose. But we split it up, all the drives, evenly.

So the power goes to the driver?

LG: Oh yeah.

SL: Cuz’ the driver needs the fuel to keep going. Driver discretion.

LG: Yeah our musical taste’s converge for the most part.

MR: Yeah, they all have different playlists, and I love it all.

AA: I’ll throw in a little Toto song for Mike once in a while haha.

LG: A little yacht rock for Mike. The last couple trips we’ve done we’ve listened to podcasts.

SL: Makes the time go by nice.

Oh yes, I have long drives and podcasts are a lifesaver.

SL: They save your life, yeah!

LG: We love listening to, like, you know, the existential quests-type stuff, or like the mysteries of the universe.

Is there one in particular that’s a fave?

AA: Absolutely – I am obsessed with Mysterious Universe. It’s really good. They read a lot of books and cover a lot of news stories of the paranormal, Big Foot… and really crazy, technologically advanced things too, like cars that drive themselves and… it’s all over.

LG: It’s just fun to think about.

SL: NPR ones are always great – Hidden Brain, TED Radio Hour.

MR:  TED’s good.

This American Life makes me cry all the time.

SL: Oh, I’ve never done that…

LG: I love Democracy Now! But it’s kinda a bummer these days. But I do really appreciate its existence and I listen to it very often.

Sword and Scale’s a good one if you like crime things, but it’s kind of intense. Kind of heavy sometimes.

MR: Yeah I listen to that one.

SL: Ever listen to Lore?

LG: Yeah! The ghost story one.

SL: It’s like true things that happen though. It’s good.

Feel like we see you guys around at shows all the time, even when you’re not playing, anything you’ve seen lately that’s just knocked your socks off?

SL: I am stoked seeing the band we are playing with tonight, Rank / Xerox, they… are amazing.

We’ve heard a lot of good things about them!

SL: They’re incredible. Yeah.

AA: Yeah they haven’t played for like 2 years! And the Residual Echoes – this is their first show in 6 years!

SL: Nuh-uh?!

AA: Yeah!

LG: I played bass in Residual Echoes when I was 21 haha. Umm… But weren’t you really stoked on that Priests show the other day?

AA: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say – yeah! Priests and Lithics. They were so amazing. To go to a show and, you know, you just feel like not all’s lost, there’s still hope… music is not dead. You know?

LG: Our friends who play in Flat Worms are really awesome.

Oh yes, we’ve seen them a few times and I’m so stoked every time they play.

SL: Their records gonna be amazing. [note: Flatworms record is out now and it is awesome!]Last one – who would be a dream band to go on tour with or collaborate with?

SL: We’re banking on opening for Red Hot Chilli Peppers haha

AA: One of these days!

LG: I think we’d all be super stoked if we got to play with The Pixies.

SL: The Pixies would be awesome. The Damned. I wanna fucking play with The Damned.

LG: Or Television or something.

AA: Smashing Pumpkins reunion tooooour!

I could see you guys playing at all of those! Haha

LG: Thank you!

AA: Wire!

SL: Yeah, fuck yeah.

Okay, we’ll let you go… Is there a release date or anything for the album?

LG: That’s part of the mystery. We’ll slowly leak information as we see fit haha.

SL: We’ll make it as good as it can be and then we’ll see what happens.

AA: Oh! Or if Iggy Pop wanted to take us on tour!

MR: Oh yeah! That’s top of my list for sure.

Cool, well thank you guys!

Feels: Thank you!

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