Time has been good to The Feelies, even if they haven’t always made the best use of it.
Since rising up through the then-nascent New York underground scene of the mid to late ‘70s, the proto-indie pop band has gone on hiatus—twice—and released but five full-length releases. But the band’s flighty history didn’t make their 2008 reunion any less of an event, and the band has kept the momentum going with a new record (2011’s Here Before) and sporadic touring. We caught up with front man Glenn Mercer by phone prior to the band’s Boston show to talk about the past, living in the present and what’s ahead for the future of The Feelies.
You guys have been off and on, but the band seems more stable than it’s been in some time. How would you describe the state of The Feelies?
It’s a little bit different because it’s not quite a full time thing. Bill’s living in Florida and Brenda’s in Pennsylvania, so we don’t have a chance to get together as much as we’d like. We pretty much stick to weekend shows. But we’re all serious about it. I guess the thing that’s the same is we’ve never had long-term goals. We prefer to take things one step at a time and enjoy the moment.
Is it as easy now to take that stance on what you guys do as it was then?
Yeah, definitely. Our approach has always been the same. Only briefly did it change, and that was when we were involved with a major label. We got steered in a certain direction and got talked into things that were out of our control.
And we didn’t operate too well that way. But we’re back to the way we used to do it, so we’re comfortable.
It seems like the world has caught up with you guys a bit. There’s no more mainstream or underground to speak of, the way there used to be. Does it feel like the playing field has been leveled a bit for the band since the reunion?
Yeah, I know what you’re saying. In the ‘80s, major labels sort of saw that there was money there in independent music and records. It’s kind of ironic that all of our contemporaries back then signed with majors around the same time that we did, and they all broke up shortly after that. It was a good indicator that it wasn’t a very good combination. But yeah, we’re in comfortable place now as a band.
You’ve mentioned in interviews that you didn’t want the band to live in nostalgia, but is that easier said than done given the legacy of The Feelies?
We don’t really feel like we need to side-step [our legacy]. We’re more than happy to perform material from all different periods of the band. Those albums mean a lot to people, and a lot of our older fans want to hear that stuff, so we’re not totally separating ourselves from anything. But for us, to be a vital band it’s essential to write songs and record.
One of the first things we talked about when we decided to get back together was the possibility of writing and recording again. We wanted that to be a high priority.
Are there any concrete plans to get back in the studio?
Probably. We haven’t set any dates or talked too much about it, but that would be the next logical step to continue in that direction. But we usually take some time between records, and we’re still latching on to this one, so not right away.
PRESENTED BY FENWAY RECORDINGS
WITH DJ CARBO