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New Route - The new route to the new music
Fall 1988 - Issue IV


New Route magazine"It's only life", chants Glenn Mercer of the Feelies. How can one respond to that? It's the ultimate inspiration to continue, which is just what the Feelies have done. To many, the idea of the Feelies seems like a recent concept, but the band stretches back a decade, and with their ingenuity will endure many more.

1977 was quite a year for the Feelies. Only a year after their debut at their high school in New Jersey, a feature article in the Village Voice headlined them as "the Best Underground Band in New York". Their audeience sprouted from 12 to 600 people after that article. The lines for their shows went around many Manhattan blocks, and in 1980 they landed their first record deal with Stiff. It looked as though this Cinderella story was heading for the ladder of success. But when Cinderella stops having fun at the ball, what's the point? In 1981, the Feelies disbanded. "We didn't consciously make that decision," comments guitarist Bill Million, "we just kind of shook our heads and that's how it ended up; really this isn't any fun."

Fortunately they did not give up that easily. They kept alive musically with three bands, the Willies, an instrumental group, the Trypes, an already existing band, and Yung Wu, Dave Weckerman's (percussionist) creative outlet.

From the Willies comes the Feelies that exists today. Symbiotic guitars from Mercer and Million; Brenda Sauter, bass, Stan Demeski, drums, and Dave Weckerman, percussionist. Together they compose the mesmerizing sounds that originated in 1980 with the first Feelies line-up on Crazy Rhythms and evolved into the Good Earth (1986) and finally their latest accomplishment, Only Life.

Mercer describes Only Life as "a combination of what we've been doing all along... it bridges the gap between the band performing and recording." Since their live shows are the real Feelies trip, it was essential to capture that element on vinyl. Result: success. The guitars make you tremble. Mercer's voice travel through your body. It is as an astounding album that is the natural progression of five extremely talented and creative musicians who enjoy playing together.

They even found their way into the movies by capturing the eye of Jonathan Demme, who had them play their own rendition of the Monkees, "I'm the believer" in Something Wild. Demme suggested them for Susan Seidelman's Smithereens, and put "Too far gone" from Only Life in his latest, Married to the Mob.

Records, the movies... where does this lead the Feelies to. Presently a tour is under way. They will travel the west coast, and the mid-west starting with a few dates in the east. "Touring is OK" sighs Demeski, "but we don't like to be away from home too long". Well, that leaves more time for studio work, thus more records in the future. That's what they're striving for, full-time musicians, making their day jobs a thing of the past.