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Interview: Glenn Mercer of The Feelies

Interview: Glenn Mercer of The Feelies

The Feelies are undoubtedly on the much less ostentatious aspect of the rock spectrum. They hail from Haledon, New Jersey; they put on garments that wouldn’t look out of place should you have been to see them on the road. But they’re undeniably among the many greats. Of their early days, they opened for artists like Richard Hell and Patti Smith. Additionally they toured with the legendary Lou Reed and formed the soundtracks of seminal punk movie Smithereens and cult movie One thing Wild. Take heed to songs like “The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness” and “Loveless Love” and also you’ll perceive why. There’s a managed chaos within the percussion and guitars that’s simmering slightly below the floor, ready to interrupt unfastened… and when it does, it’s phenomenal.

We lately needed to probability to talk with Glenn Mercer, founding member and vocalist for Feelies, on the telephone, just some days earlier than attending his Baltimore present. We talked to him concerning the band’s new report In Between, their extremely influential 1980 debut album Loopy Rhythms, CBGB in its heyday and extra.

TYF: I’m tremendous excited for the Baltimore present. I’ve been listening to The Feelies all week to prepare. Do you guys have any notable reminiscences of previous journeys to Baltimore or previous exhibits there?

Glenn Mercer: Properly, I keep in mind the membership [Ottobar]. I feel we’ve performed there twice earlier than. We’ve all the time had fun, good crowds. So we’re wanting ahead to it.

TYF: You guys have clearly traveled quite a bit through the years; what are some of probably the most fascinating locations that you simply’ve visited?

Mercer: I appreciated Portland, Oregon so much. Athens, Georgia was all the time enjoyable to play. I like Boston. We’ve been going there for ages.

TYF: What’s Portland like? I’ve by no means been there.

Mercer: Nicely, that is going again to the ’80s, so it’s in all probability completely totally different now. Simply very art-oriented and artistic. So much of artistic individuals there… only a very relaxed vibe to it.

TYF: How about Athens?

Mercer: Properly, Athens was a university city and it had tons of bands, so it was a really musical city. The musicians shaped a bond. There was an actual robust group of musicians—and artists, as nicely. Chicago’s nice. We’ve all the time had good crowds in Chicago. I really feel like I’m leaving locations out. I’ve had enjoyable occasions throughout, actually.

TYF: Now I’ve acquired some questions on some particular songs and albums. What’s the story behind the duvet artwork of In Between, your most up-to-date report?

Mercer: Not a lot of a narrative, actually. My brother-in-law took the image. He had despatched half of his portfolio, perhaps 50 footage. We have been going by means of ’em, and nothing actually jumped out, though they have been all good—they only didn’t appear to suit for the album cowl. After which I occurred to stroll previous our fridge—and we have now a ton of stuff everywhere in the fridge, so I don’t usually even pay a lot consideration to it—however [something] jumped out, and it was a postcard that he had made to advertise his images profession. It simply caught my eye and I assumed, “Oh, that really fits the mood and the title.”

TYF: The place is it an image of?

Mercer: I feel it’s in France, if I keep in mind proper. It’s on the postcard that I obtained.

TYF: That is going means again, however one of my favourite songs by The Feelies is “Loveless Love.” What was the inspiration behind that?

Mercer: Nobody particular factor. I’ve a tough time speaking about inspiration of songs and lyrics the place they arrive from as a result of typically once you’re writing, it’s virtually stream-of-consciousness, simply no matter pops into your head. And rather a lot of occasions, I don’t even know what they’re about until years later.

TYF: What about “The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness”?

Mercer: It’s simply from the purpose of view of [someone living in] a suburban neighborhood.

TYF: Do you assume that The Feelies might be popping out with new music anytime quickly, or are you principally going to give attention to enjoying In Between and the older albums?

Mercer: We’ll sort of shift forwards and backwards. We’ll do a report after which put it on the market for a couple of years. It takes us a number of years to write down extra songs after which a couple of years to report ’em, so lots of time goes by between data. We’ll in all probability do a bit of every. We now have some exhibits arising within the spring and the summer time, and we’re additionally engaged on some new songs, so we’re making an attempt to stability these two issues—enjoying reside and dealing on new stuff to play reside. We play not solely the current document, however we return all the best way to Loopy Rhythms. We do attempt to do an excellent stability between all of the data.

TYF: Whenever you guys first began out, you performed at CBGB for a pair of years and opened for artists like Richard Hell and Patti Smith. What was it wish to be beginning out in that scene?

Mercer: It was a good time. Rather a lot of power, quite a bit of unique music. A very good various to what you have been listening to on the radio. Despite the fact that these bands weren’t getting airplay and promoting any data, they have been simply so full of life and inspiration, that zeal for what they have been doing. It was cool to be amongst it. It undoubtedly appeared particular.

TYF: Do you might have any specific tales from that point that you simply look again on fondly? 

Mercer: I take a look at all of it fondly, actually. I don’t know if there are any specific ones. I assume enjoying with Patti Smith’s group was a serious one.

TYF: You and Invoice Million labored on the soundtrack for Smithereens. How did you become involved with that undertaking, and what was that like?

Mercer: I feel, though I’m not completely positive, it was by means of Jonathan Demme. Jonathan Demme was a fan of the band and he was additionally buddies with Susan Seidelman. I feel he may need advised us to her, however I’m not completely positive. It was fairly uncommon engaged on that. We did all of it at Invoice’s home within the basement on fairly crude recording gear, which we actually hadn’t been utilizing a lot. It was fairly new to us, so quite a bit of it was experimenting. Video again then wasn’t a cassette—it was truly reel to reel, so every machine would run at barely totally different speeds, and we must day trip sections. So it was fairly exhausting, however the problem was thrilling as a result of it was a brand new method of working for us—improvising and utilizing the gear and stuff. I keep in mind once we submitted quite a bit of the recordings, Susan stated, “Well, I can’t figure it out where any of it is all supposed to go,” so we truly had to enter New York whereas she was modifying and put the items collectively. I feel it turned out good. There’s actually not that a lot music in there, which is sweet for us, that being our first time doing it.

TYF: You guys have been additionally featured in a scene within the movie One thing Wild.What was it like filming that?

Mercer: Nicely, that was fairly… I wouldn’t name it uncomfortable, however it wasn’t tremendous snug both. Someplace in between. I had taken some movie courses in school, so I used to be used to the entire concept of the digital camera and the best way issues are put collectively, in order that wasn’t that shocking. However the scale of it was a bit overwhelming. They have been actual good to us. We had some reservations about doing it initially, however Jonathan stated, “Whatever you worry about, we’ll take care of it. Don’t worry. It’s gonna turn out great.” And also you’ve received to offer him quite a bit of credit score as a result of a lot of the movie revolves round it—it’s a pivotal second, actually, within the movie. It shifts gears, actually, at that time, from comedy to a darker tone. And it actually all occurs within the scenes that we’re in. You realize, he actually needed to have lots of confidence, not solely in his potential to do it, however within the band’s capability, as a result of so much of the stuff… I feel some of the songs have been even advised whereas we have been on the set.

TYF: Oh, wow.

Mercer: Yeah. We couldn’t actually put together that a lot. Though we tried some songs at house, all of it actually got here collectively there, surprisingly.

TYF: That’s fairly cool. What are your favourite films, personally? 

Mercer: My favourite films? I like so much of totally different stuff. My favourite period might be the ’70s. It had quite a bit of good films. I’m an enormous fan of Eraserhead.

TYF: Your identify comes from a phrase from Courageous New World. What different books do you want?

Mercer: I’m not an enormous reader of fiction. I choose nonfiction, so I don’t know if I might actually advocate specific books. I truly didn’t even learn Courageous New World.

TYF: Oh—you simply heard concerning the idea?

Mercer: Invoice had recommended it; I assume he learn the guide.

TYF: Oh, received it. What nonfiction subjects do you wish to examine?

Mercer: I wish to examine music and musicians and biographies.

TYF: You graduated from school with an artwork diploma. Do you assume that your research influenced your work in any notable methods?

Mercer: I feel it did, however I feel it’s additionally simply the outlook and the strategy to artwork. Mine was the identical in every space—I’m type of a minimalist, so my artwork can be minimal. It didn’t essentially “influence” the music, however the strategy, I feel, was just about the identical music

TYF: The Feelies was recognized for enjoying holidays. What’s your favourite vacation?

Mercer: In all probability Halloween. My birthday’s the subsequent day, so I all the time celebrated them collectively. Christmas is massive.

TYF: For positive. What’s the most effective Halloween costume you’ve ever had?

Mercer: I don’t keep in mind any that basically stood out that a lot. I keep in mind that my brother was The Mummy one time, and my mom spent actually an hour tearing these sheets aside after which wrapping him up within the sheets, and as he walked it began to unravel. The entire costume was trailing behind him. That was fairly humorous.

TYF: That’s fairly nice.

Mercer: I feel it lasted about 10 minutes.

TYF: The subsequent vacation that’s arising, of course is New Yr’s Eve. With that in thoughts, what would you say, wanting again, some of your favourite issues about 2018 have been?

Mercer: Simply on a regular basis stuff, actually. Enjoying with the band. We had rather a lot of enjoyable exhibits.

TYF: And searching ahead, do you’ve any New Yr’s resolutions?

Mercer: Not but. I’ve a pair days to consider it.

TYF: Lastly, is there anything that you simply’d wish to say to the readers and the followers earlier than we wrap up?

Mercer: Simply that we’re wanting ahead to the exhibits and hope to see them there.

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