By Joe Student
For a band that’s only been together a few years, the Wild Feathers’ sound has been around for decades.
“We all grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, The Band and other groups like that. “I think our influences come through in our sound,” guitarist/vocalist Ricky Young said from Nashville, the rock band’s home. “We embrace it.”
Formed in Austin, Texas, in 2010, the five-piece band features Young, guitarist/vocalist Taylor Burns, bassist/vocalist Joel King, guitarist/vocalist Preston Wimberly and drummer Ben Jarvis.
After signing to Warner Brothers Records, the Wild Feathers released their eponymous debut album last August. The vocal aptitude of Young, Burns, King and Wimberly soaked the songs in rich harmonies atop rock, folk, country and blues melodies.
The band, which has previously toured with music icons like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Paul Simon, is currently on a headlining tour which includes stops in Boston, Toronto, San Francisco and sold-out dates in New York City and Indianapolis. The group is scheduled to play at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia Friday, Feb. 7.
Young spoke with Highway 81 Revisited in January about going on tour, talking guitars with Conan O’Brien and hanging out with Kenny Powers.
H81R: Three of the band’s members previously served as lead singers in other bands. Explain how the personalities melded.
Ricky Young: The biggest challenge was giving up control. We were all used to calling the shots, but this had to be less of a dictatorship and more of a democracy. The upside is that you can share the load of songwriting and singing.
H81R: The band’s harmonies are often cited as a strength. Are the songs meant to capitalize on that? Do you ever try to intentionally depart from it?
RY: We knew right away that our harmonies were an advantage, but it’s something that we want versus wanting to be known as a “vocal band.” We’re not trying to be part of a demographic or a trend; there are no banjos in this band. That’s not to criticize bands that have one, but that’s just not us.
H81R: You are touring on your debut album. Have you included new songs or cover material to extend the setlist?
RY: We wrote 80 songs for the record, so we’re not in danger of running out of songs. Not to sound cocky, but that was easy; we all write a lot. We have been working on adding cover material into the set list, so you might hear Led Zeppelin, Levon Helm, early McCartney or Big Star. It depends on the show. It’s fun, especially when it’s your tour. It can get a little old playing the same songs every night.
H81R: What do you like best about the album?
RY: It’s a quality-sounding record. We made the album we wanted to make. A lot of credit for that goes to (producer) Jay Joyce (the Wallflowers, Emmylou Harris). He pushed us to make the songs better. We did most of it live-to-tape, which gives it a really warm sound.
H81R: You were on “Conan” recently. Is he a fan?
I don’t know if (Conan) was a fan before we played, but he seemed to really be into the music. He spent a lot of time with us. He’s a really big guitar guy, so he talked to us about guitars and his obsession with Buddy Holly.
H81R: Actor Danny McBride, who played Kenny Powers in the HBO show “Eastbound & Down,” has been photographed in a Wild Feathers t-shirt. Did the band know he was a fan?
We were on tour with Ryan Bingham, and (McBride) came to see us at a show in South Carolina. We ended up hanging out with him. He’s hilarious. We had a great time.
The Wild Feathers w/ Saints of Valory, Jamestown Revival, World Cafe Live Philadelphia (3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia), Friday, Feb. 7, 8 p.m. Tickets: $13-$15. Info: www.worldcafelive.com
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