Three years on from reconvening as a band, The Feelies have recorded Here Before. The New Jersey band’s fifth album is their first since 1991’s Time For A Witness. In the intervening years, most of the band entered into other musical projects, while founding member Bill Million relocated to Florida and took a break from music altogether, as he explains to Michael Hartt.
“I actually just stopped playing for a while,” he says now, “I reached a point where it was necessary to take a break from it. I just started losing the inspiration to play. I thought the best thing to do was to put the instrument down and let things take their course and they did. It just took a while.”
Having not parted on bad terms, Million and fellow co-founder Glenn Mercer stayed in touch. They had been talking about getting back together for a while but it was only after family commitments had resolved themselves that the idea really took hold.
“We had an offer from Sonic Youth to play a show on July 4th in New York City in a park back in 2008. We decided that it would be a good jumping off point and that if we didn’t take it, we’d just sort of keep putting it off.”
After the initial reunion and a performance of debut album Crazy Rhythms for All Tomorrow’s Parties in late 2008, the band’s primary focus turned to writing and recording new material.
“We didn’t want to get back together just to play the old songs. We all enjoy playing together,” he says “We thought it was important. That’s where the interest was; working on new music. That’s pretty much the driving force behind it.”
With the band’s five members now spread across three American states, they had to adapt their writing and recording process for Here Before from the way they went about it previously.
“We don’t get together to rehearse that much but the thing that I find interesting, and I think everybody else does, is that, because of that distance, our approach has changed. We all tend to do a lot more work on our own so we’re much more prepared when we get together.”
The album was recorded in Mercer’s basement. Recording digitally for the first time, Million says that everybody was pretty comfortable in the studio. However, modern technology had some drawbacks.
“It was much harder to make a recording go backwards than it was [using tape]. All the songs were recorded in one or two takes and we moved on pretty quickly through that process.”
Here before has been out in the States for a couple of months and has garnered glowing reviews all-round. Since then, The Feelies have played a select number of live dates, mostly on the East Coast. Million says that any sort of big tour is pretty unlikely.
“We’ve never been real big on touring. We kind of made that mistake once and that kind of contributed to our original undoing. It’s not a good fit for us. We don’t enjoy playing every night. I wouldn’t rule out going some place for several shows.”
Here Before is out locally on 6 May.