The Wild Feathers’ Friendship Got the Band Going: ‘It All Starts With the Four of Us’
If you ask the Wild Feathers, the group's four members (Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns and Ben Dumas) will agree that they get along well as friends -- maybe even a little too well.
"Maybe it's a bad thing that we get along so well, because it seems like some of the best bands ever hate each other," Burns says with a laugh.
Adds King, "It all starts with the four of us hanging out and playing songs and writing with each other. It was a surprise that we could harmonize, because we're not classically trained or anything like that. Once we started singing that way and learning how to trade off [vocal lines], it became something we'd never had on our own. It's really special, because it's something you can't recreate with anyone else but us. That's why we were lucky to find each other."
The four musicians agreed from the beginning that they wanted to have multiple singers in their music: "We were all lead singers in our old bands," Young tells The Boot. "So learning to sing harmonies was definitely a learning curve, but that was never a point of contention." Close harmony provided a sound that the group felt was missing in modern music.
Additionally, the Wild Feathers wanted to be a band of instrumentalists, in a way that has become increasingly rare in country music: "We're a band, which you don't see much anymore," Burns continues. "We play our own instruments. We write our own songs. We do everything the way the people we grew up idolizing did it."
The group's style spans across an array of genres, including soul, Southern rock and pop, in addition to country. Their forthcoming studio album, Greetings From the Neon Frontier, has plenty of country appeal, but are country audiences ready for the Wild Feathers?
"I hope they're ready!" Dumas jokes. "We play in front of all kinds of crowds, and it seems like whenever we play in front of rock crowds, the audience will be like, 'Oh, you're a country band.' Then, we toured with Willie Nelson, and the crowd was like, 'Oh, you're a rock band.' Who knows."
While the Wild Feathers have always flirted with the border between country and rock, the group believes there's plenty of room for experimentation within country music. After all, the hottest songs on country radio seldom fit the mold of "traditional" country.
"We listen to country radio, and we're like, 'This is country?' It sounds like '90s boy-band pop. Sometimes, I'm not even sure if there's a guitar on the song," Burns says. "Sonically, there's no end of possibilities in terms of what you can do within country music right now."
Adds Young, "I think the world of [Chris] Stapleton has opened up a lot of doors for [acts like us]. Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson -- people like that open the door for people who are writing their own songs again and playing their own instruments."
While they may not sound like much of the music on country radio right now, the Wild Feathers certainly wouldn't mind hearing themselves in that mix: "If anybody wants to hear our songs, we're really happy for them to do that. I don't care if we're billed as the next polka sensations," Burns goes on to say. "If there are country stations with potential fans listening to them, I want to be on those stations."
Continues King, "We're definitely not shy about wanting more success."
As such, the Wild Feathers hope to play more often to bigger crowds, and expand their fan base as much as they possibly can, in order to provide for their families. Two of the group's members recently became fathers.
"When you're in your early 20s, it's cool to be the indie kid," King says. "But you know what's really cool? Being able to make music and do what you love for the rest of your life."
"What's cool is paying your mortgage," Young quips.
Greetings From the Neon Frontier is slotted for release on June 29, and is available for pre-order here. The Wild Feathers will be hitting the road this summer for a string of festival dates; their current single is the song "Big Sky."
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