By Annie Reuter
When Radio.com sat down with Nashville-based band the Wild Feathers over cold beers last month, they were on break from rehearsing for their performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers that evening. We met up with Ricky Young and Taylor Burns early afternoon at The Three Monkeys in Manhattan to talk about their excellent 2013 self-titled release, life on the road and what to expect from their next album.
For our midday meet-up we had most of the bar to ourselves despite a few revelers. We scoped out the perfect spot upstairs beneath an old Betsy Ross-era American flag and ordered a few beers. Burns ordered the Brooklyn lager, “We’re in New York,” he told Radio.com. “When in Rome. And I just really like this beer. If there were a Texas beer I would have chosen that one. I was looking for a Shiner Bock but this is a great beer.”
“My tour manger recommended this one for me,” he said. “It’s OK. It’s a Hefeweizen of sort. Allagash White.” While the guys admit they used to drink much more before their sets in their first or second bands, they don’t anymore.
“We all drink beer, just a couple before the show to get the anxiety out,” Burns explained. “Especially a big show. We don’t try to get too drunk where it affects our performance, just enough to loosen us up and get ready to play.”
While Young said it used to be fun playing drunk, now it’s a nightmare. “I hate the way it feels.”
Wild Feathers released their debut album last year, which Young likens to a Long Island Iced Tea.
“Something with a lot of liquor because there’s so much variety. I was thinking that but I hate that drink. It’s kind of a lame drink. It’s what high school kids order because they think they’re going to get the most f—ed up and it works,” Burns said, but he finally agreed with Young’s pick. “It has so many different genres and influences in it that I think it would be a good analogy.”
That Long Island Iced Tea variety album has helped earn the band comparisons to My Morning Jacket and Neil Young, two artists they’re more than okay with as both are fans: Burns was even wearing a Neil Young T-shirt.
“Obviously we’re Neil Young freaks,” said Young. “Especially our drummer, Ben, is a freak fan. He’s gotten us into live, crazy unreleased stuff. We actually got to meet him at SXSW and hang out with him for a little bit.”
Their current single, “Left My Woman” is the last single they’ll put out from their debut album and it’s a song that they say means more to them now than when they first wrote it.
“That song I remember exactly where we were,” Burns recalled. “We were living in L.A. for a little bit and still paying rent in Texas and Tennessee. We were flying out there, hadn’t known these guys for too long, maybe a few months. We were probably drinking a lot of beer and whiskey maybe. We had longtime girlfriends and were missing them and that song just poured out in 15-20 minutes. It was an effortless thing.”
He added: “I think people really gravitate towards it too. It’s one that most people sing at our live shows. We just played Europe and had a sold-out show in Madrid, Spain. We were in a different continent, in a different country where English isn’t the spoken language and the whole crowd is singing that song. It gives you goose bumps thinking of the humble beginnings of it in an apartment in Hollywood drunk just sitting around the kitchen table to Madrid, Spain a few years later. It’s pretty incredible to see people respond to it. It always means more. I lost my relationship to what that song was about for me but it still hits home every time we play it.”
And the guys know what life on the road and away from loved ones is like all too well. The band just came off a performance at Bonnaroo Music Festival, and will continue to hit festivals and clubs through August. Last year they were on the road for an incredible 250 dates and their schedule is only getting busier, something they say have them ready to beat Hunter Hayes‘ recent Guinness World Record for most live shows in 24 hours.
“I’ll tell you what, we’ll definitely try it,” said Young. “If there’s anyone groomed to do it, it’s definitely us. We can double that. We love each other and we have a lot of fun but it’s really hard. Everyone thinks just because they see a picture on Instagram and we’re at the Grand Canyon or something that it’s the most amazing life, which it is. But that’s like a couple minutes or seconds of the day. The other hours we’re driving or we’re hoofing heavy stuff into the venue. It’s definitely work. More work than I ever thought it was.”
Burns agreed, adding that the biggest misconception of being in a band is how glamorous it is.
“My family call me and they think I’m famous. I’m loading my own s–t. I’m driving the van for a nine-hour stretch by myself. It’s not as glamorous as it looks but it’s the most fun thing ever. I always say, being in a band is one of the greatest experiences any human being can be a part of. The camaraderie, just everything you go through, you go through together,” he said.
This fall, the Wild Feathers will settle down from life on the road to focus on their next release, something they promise will be very different.
“It will be interesting to see the kind of record we get into as the band we are now, a couple years down the road,” Young said. “We’re getting more experimental with different things and want to try a little more out-there ideas with such a road weary sound. It might be pretty interesting. Hopefully it won’t sound like old trucker country songs, but it might. You never know.”