Bent around a dying dream

Bent around a dying dream

Louisville’s The Fervor Celebrate Release of ‘Arise, Great Warrior’

By Kyle Melton

Michael Campbell, Natalie Felker, Ben Felker and Mat Herron of The Fervor.

Hardly a day goes by anymore without yet another story coming out decrying the death of the music industry and claiming that people will never pay for music again. While the traditional music industry may be dying, that hardly means the death of musicians or of music distribution. Louisville quartet The Fervor demonstrate that by taking the means of production and distribution into your own hands, carving out an audience through your own diligence, and being honest musically, that it’s still possible to survive as a working musician. The band will celebrate the release of their latest effort via SonaBLAST, “Arise, Great Warrior,” with a show on Feb. 23 at South Park Tavern.

As transplants to Louisville, couple Ben and Natalie Felker, guitar and keyboards/vocals, respectively, issued a self-titled debut EP in 2005. They joined together with local drummer Mat Herron following the release of the EP and began playing live around Louisville. The group continued to gel after Herron brought in long-time friend, bassist Mike Campbell, to play on the band’s 2008 full-length, “Bleeder.” Following that album’s release, the band set out to San Francisco to lay down tracks for what would become their newest album, “Arise, Great Warrior.”

“We were in San Francisco for about two-and-a-half weeks,” recalled Natalie Felker. “All four of us got sick immediately upon our arrival, so that made things interesting. There was a lot of ‘We need more Kleenex’ and ‘Who wants to go in on a bottle of Mucinex?’ Very rock n’ roll. But it didn’t matter, because we were basically like kids in a toy store. We worked in two studios, Radical Sounds and Mission Bells, both of which had a wonderful selection of vintage gear they kindly let us use. We began at Radical Sounds by tracking all four of our instruments live, in one room to two-inch tape. It helped to put us in our element. It was fantastic to wake up every morning in the Mission and have nothing to do but go record for two solid weeks.”

As the band continued to prepare the new album for release, they remained off the road for much of 2010. With only a handful of live dates including festival appearances at Forecastle and Boomslang, most of the band’s efforts went into working on releasing the new record. Ultimately, they struck a deal with fellow Louisvillian and My Morning Jacket frontman Yim Yames’s new label, Removador Records for CD and digital distribution. For the vinyl release, the band will issue the album via Herron’s vinyl-only imprint, Karate Body Records.

“I think Removador can help put us in front of an audience that might not otherwise hear our music,” Felker said. “We liked their style and knew we wanted to work with them. We gave a copy of our record to our friend Johnny Quaid of The Ravenna Colt, who is also involved with Removador, and to Yim Yames. We knew at the very least, they’d give it a good listen. Putting the vinyl out on KBR was a no-brainer, since Mat Herron is both founder of Karate Body and our drummer. Isn’t the whole point of starting a record label so you can put out your band’s records?”

With their new “Arise, Great Warrior” album, The Fervor reveal themselves as an exceptionally tight unit capable of both graceful nuance and epic fury. As Natalie Felker’s vocals build a soulful bridge between Christine McVie and Neko Case, her keys sync effortlessly with Ben Felker’s grinding guitars as the workmanlike rhythm section of Campbell and Herron provide a rocksteady pulse that effortlessly drives the album. Lead single “Crazy for the Feeling” delivers a strut and swagger that perfectly showcases Natalie’s hypnotic vocals as the band struts and swaggers behind the chorus: “Golden aura on a wave of paranoia/I can feel it laying tracks down in my head.”

“Lyrically, I tend to gravitate towards themes of moral conflict, spiritual renewal, travel, sex, anxiety, loss, courage … you know, the little things,” Felker explained. “A big part of that is the instruments we play, the kind of sounds we like and the way we tend to record. I love big drums, loud guitars and a nice, warm electric piano. I also love melody and harmonies. I think we just like what we like, and it shows through in our sound.”

As The Fervor prepare for more touring in support of the new album in 2011, Felker and co. realize the benefits of being able to return to such a supportive scene in Louisville.

“I think we’ve added our own unique patch on a diverse quilt of Louisville bands,” admitted Felker. “What I like so much about this city’s scene is its sense of camaraderie. When Ben and I first formed The Fervor, we didn’t know very many people in Louisville. We were pleasantly surprised to see how receptive people were. On the whole, I think Louisville is pretty supportive of its artists and musicians, and that makes for fertile ground to be creative.”

The Fervor will celebrate the release of “Arise, Great Warrior” with a performance on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Also on the bill are Motel Beds and Smug Brothers. Doors at 9 p.m. Admission is $5 for all ages. For more information, visit www.thefervor.com.

Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at musiceditor@daytoncitypaper.com.

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