The mood in the dressing room is disarmingly laid back as vocalist Matt Pelham and keyboardist Parish Yaw contemplate occupying one of the golden support slots of recent times. Indeed, Pelham makes it clear that the prestige that comes with tonight’s support slot is more surprising than overwhelming. ‘’We all live pretty ordinary lives and we are all pretty ordinary guys. We just want to make a living out of it; we’ve never really counted on anything’. From this point becomes evident that the previous ten years has not been a gruelling battle with the industry, trying to get their music heard. This is no doubt due in part to the success of The Kings of Leon, who have championed The Features regularly, (Caleb as claimed debut single ‘That’s the Way it’s Meant to Be’ as the best thing he’s heard all year and halfway through the interview we can hear an impromptu cover version as they sound check). Asked whether they feel pigeonholed by their association with the band, Pelham is as nonchalant as he is modest, ‘If that’s the only thing people have to relate us to then that’s fine, I don’t care’
Yet despite their own modesty, The Features are very different from the band that will headline The Brixton Academy tonight. Forged over a ten year period to it’s current manifestation, their sound is at once familiar yet incredibly difficult to pin down. A combination of new wave and art rock tendencies, The Features somehow tie all this together under the rubric of their hometown of Tennessee. ‘We’ve obviously been influenced by a lot of European music, although there is an undercurrent we share with The Kings of Leon, our sound is pretty different’. The decision to chose UK label Fierce Panda to release their debut E.P is some indication of where The Features are heading, whilst the single ‘Leave It All Behind’ released on Universal today, has as much in common with Leon as it does with Weezer. The release of album ‘Exhibit A’ is to follow in April; expect a fruitful implosion of off beat chord structures and raw rock and roll, encapsulating a very British sound akin to The Coral or Zutons, whilst remaining true to it’s origins.
This is music that is not overly concerned with itself and it’s refreshing to find The Features don’t take themselves too seriously. ‘We’re really doing it because there’s nothing else we’d rather be doing, we try to keep things pretty light-hearted and do things natural’. The personal position that The Features find themselves results in an outlook that is slightly different (until recently they we all in full time work and Pelham is a father of two). Pelham continues almost jokingly ‘Being on tour is so much of a change for us. I imagine that a lot of other bands are ‘lets go tour’, personally I’d much rather be at home with my family. I mean I love playing music but I love my family’’.
Not very rock and roll but who cares? The Features, for all their modesty, will surely rise above their own expectations. Tonight feels like the beginning of something bigger, and who knows what the New Year will bring.
The single Leave It All Behind is released on the 13th of December. Album ‘Exhibit A’ is available on import and released in the UK in April 2005.