By: Kat Harlton
I admit that I stumbled across The Wild Feathers by accident. A couple years ago, I had a neighbor that played California by Jamestown Revival on repeat for hours. After being forced to hear it endlessly I decided to look them up, and I soon became a fan. In search for more music with a similar sound, I started checking out bands that had played with them on their recent tour, and The Wild Feathers were on that list. As any Wild Feathers fan will tell you, it only takes one listen of Left My Woman to convert you, and converted I was.
Over the past few years, The Wild Feathers have honed their sound and, taking inspiration from tour life, recently released their sophomore album Lonely Is A Lifetime. I had the opportunity to catch up with Ricky Young, Joel King and Taylor Burns before their show that night at Lee’s Palace, where we discussed album inspiration, the songwriting process, and creativity.
Kat: I heard you wrote the title track Lonely Is A Lifetime in the same hotel room where Gram Parsons passed away. Would you mind talking about that experience a little more?
Ricky: We just happened to be in the room he died in on his actual birthday, and the three of us just had a really special trip. We went out and had drinks and dinner, got on stage with one of the local bands there and had a blast. Then we headed back to the motel, got our guitars out and sat down and wrote it in like 30 or 40 mins.
I mean if you listen to the lyrics, “Only the starlight can turn this town cold” it really draws from that trip. In the daytime there it’s so freakishly hot and the night is so cold because it’s the desert. We wrote it about dealing with being alone. That moment where you can go through your day but at the end of day it’s just you with yourself.
Taylor: I think it was one of those first moments that bonded the three of us together. We wrote that one before we even released our first record and, for some reason, it just kept getting passed over. Then, I think it was our last tour, before this record, where we thought ‘let’s try this song live and see what happens’, and we got goosebumps again. We knew we had to revisit that song.
As for why it became the title of the record, we all felt like it fit the theme of a lot of the other songs, about missing home, being gone and away from everything you love to chase down this dream we’re trying to chase down. I wouldn’t call the record sad or a downer, but I think the title vibes.
Kat: So how does the creative process for an album like this work? What’s the first thing you do when you get an idea for a song?
Joel: Every idea is different. Sometimes it’s just a riff or a line and you put it in your phone. Most of the time you voice memo it. I don’t want to plug the iPhone or technology or anything, but I’m not so hipster that I’m going to have a little tape recorder. So we all have iPhones and stuff, and it’s just the easiest thing. Like even now for this interview, Taylor has his guitar out so maybe an idea will come to him.
Sometimes you just can’t help it and you gotta finish the motherfucker. Really it’s about getting any idea down so you don’t forget it. We got to hang out with Chris Robinson one time and were talking about writing songs and he was like ‘Dude, I wrote my whole last record on this thing’.
Taylor: Then you listen back three days later and go ‘Oh that was shitty‘ or “Damn, that was good. Maybe I’ll take it to the guys now‘ or “I don’t even remember writing that“.
Kat: Do you think about writing singles, or approach each song as it’s own story?
Ricky: We just try to write good songs, serve the song.
Taylor: And serve ourselves, too. We try to make ourselves proud of what we’re doing, that’s the most important thing. I’d be lying if we didn’t think ‘Oh, we can’t have all mid-tempo numbers’ but we try to gain each other’s respect and make each other proud, and if that happens then everything else doesn’t matter, it’s secondary.
Joel: You can start smelling if it’s going to be a hit, or if it might be something, but you don’t do anything different about it, you still just play it as a song. You know, you go like “This could be a single” but it doesn’t change how you write it or anything else, you just do it.
Kat: How do you stay creative outside of The Wild Feather? Do you have other creative outlets?
Taylor: I like to cook a lot, it’s very therapeutic. I think it’s creative in its own way, but it’s also very regimented. It’s like doing a mundane task, which helps frees up my creative brain instead of forcing me to be creative all the time. With cooking, you have to take it out at a certain time or prepare certain things, but there’s obviously still room for creativity to put your own stuff in there, which I really enjoy.
Ricky: I prefer, and I think Joel might too, to be outside and grill. It’s kind of our release, our hobby. I mean, we all play golf and fish and do redneck stuff when we’re home as much as possible, but cooking is the universal getaway.
Joel: I’ll do a little doodle sometimes. I’m not a good artist at all, but I enjoy it. I pretty much just do it like John Lennon did. If I make it crappy enough, it’s supposed to look artistic. We also do Adobe Photoshop and stuff. And we made our posters at the beginning. We all get off on visual art.
Kat: What’s your fallback song, the one you always find yourself going back to?
Joel: Strawberry Fields. It’s a mix of everything great in recorded music and rock and roll.
Taylor: Thirteen by Big Star. I could listen to that every day.
Ricky: Left Of The Dial, The Replacements.
Kat: First song you learned to play?
Taylor: First song I ever played live was No Expectations by The Rolling Stones.
Joel: Smoke On The Water, just the riffs; I never learned the whole song, I didn’t need the whole song.
We also briefly discussed Lee’s Palace and it’s musical history, as well as Toronto which the band adores. Joel described it as ‘gritty’ and mentioned that it reminded him of New York City.
I really want to thank The Wild Feathers for taking time out of their busy schedule to fit me in. They were laid back, funny, open, and respectful, which I think says a lot about their character as a band. They were awesome and I had a great time.
The Wild Feathers’ tour goes until the end of July with dates in Europe, the UK, and Australia. Do yourself a favour and check ’em out. Also, check out their video for “Overnight”.