Since releasing The Beginning EP in 2003, Nashville-based combo, The Features, have established themselves as one of the most exciting and imaginative bands working today. Their current release, The Features (Serpents and Snakes 2013) captures the band at its dynamic best. Recorded over a two-week period, the album delivers indie pop polish without sounding overproduced. The focus on tracking live shines through, and the overdubs are sparse and meaningful. One has the sense that there’s a punk rock sensibility simmering just below the surface, restrained by a devotion to well crafted, exquisitely arranged pop tunes.
Such a no-frills approach to record making also serves to demonstrate that The Features are a take-no-prisoners live act. Time on the road, coupled with a continually updated repertoire of original songs has resulted in a tour-de-force show that mints new fans every time they play.
Their music demonstrates a spirit of musical adventure that continues to define and motivate. With an amalgamation of influences and inspirations – spanning elements of Krautrock, indie, psychedelia, and classic AOR – The Features conjure their own inimitable, indescribable sound.
Catch The Features much anticipated performance at East Side Social, Saturday June 20.
Interview with Mark Bond, keyboardist of The Features
What got you started playing music? Do you have a nostalgic story or a special memory that sticks out?
I guess I started playing around fourteen. I actually started on guitar. I would play with some buddies of mine at school, and I just started getting into that way. I like all kinds of different music, but guitar was my starting point. Through different bands I started getting into keyboards and that’s how I became a keyboard player.
How many bands were you in before The Features?
Not really a ton. I was in some bands from Nashville and back in high school. In a couple of the later bands I was in before The Features, we needed a keyboard player and I kind of started getting interested in that, so at that point made the switch.
Do you like keyboard better than guitar now?
They’re kind of different animals. They’re so many things you could do with either of them, but I guess for writing songs and composing parts, I like playing keyboards just because of the way its laid out. By now I’m more familiar with it too. With keyboards, with midi, there are so many things you can do and I got sucked up into that. So at this point, yeah, I do like keyboards better.
Are from Tennessee? How do you like living in Nashville and being around it’s music community?
I grew up in Hendersonville. I really like living in Nashville, it’s grown a lot in the past twenty years or so. The music scene has gotten really great here. A lot of really well known acts have come to Nashville and moved here and that’s really helped a lot. In earlier bands that I played in we would play out of town and we always got the joke: “do you play country music?” (Laughs) I couldn’t believe it. It’s taken a lot more seriously nowadays for all kinds of different music. Which is nice.
Do you like any of the old country artists? If a friend came in town and wanted to see authentic country where would you take them?
I love Johnny Cash. It’s always fun if you’ve never been to Nashville to go downtown. It can get kind of crazy, I probably go there like once a year, but it is fun you know to do every now and then. It’s kind of one of those things you have to do if you come to Nashville, go at least once.
Do you have a memorable The Features show? Do you remember your first show compared to now?
We were, and still are, pretty loud. I was pretty nervous I guess at first, but once you start playing it was all right. I guess you just kind of get into it and stop thinking about it or being nervous or whatever. From then to now, then we were more bombastic and less dynamic. If you play with somebody long enough, you learn to play with them and you become better at mastering dynamics and playing more sensitively to the song and building up a moment of tension and release.
How was recording your latest release, The Features, at Ripchord? Do you think the confines of time helped to make it more creative/motivating?
We got together a few times in preparation for it for about two weeks. I remember when we first got to the studio we all set up and started practicing. We were all just ready to go. The whole drive out there, I think it was three or four days, we were all kind of thinking about it and were ready to get to work. By the time we got there, we each picked our corner of the room and started setting up and jus started playing. We put mics on everything and were pretty much ready to go. We were arranging while as we were recording so that was as an interesting approach. I like it because it was more living in the moment and letting your instinct take over maybe a little bit more instead of planning too meticulously.
What’s some music that you’re listening to right now?
Empire of the Sun, I really like them a lot. The lead singer and his old bands and stuff he’s done a lot of good stuff. I really like their records. Their records are really good to run to. There’s one song called “DNA” if you want to run up a hill or something it gets you going.
If you had to pick one, what’s you favorite The Features song?
We’re getting close to wrapping up on a new record. I really like our music, I’m not trying to just say that, and there are some songs for me that kind of speak to me more than others. I tend to like more moodier, electronic stuff. Newer stuff is more style of what I like a lot. I like our song off the new record “Special Place.”