Over the past several years, Louisville has emerged as a formidable music city in the Midwest. Within the city’s eclectic homegrown local scene, The Fervor have carved out a sizable niche. The current quartet – keyboardist/vocalist Natalie Felker, guitarist Ben Felker, bassist Michael Campbell and drummer Mat Herron – is fueled by the heartfelt songwriting of Natalie Felker, but the band’s ethereal sound is the result of a decidedly collaborative process. Ben Felker recently spoke with DCP about the nature of The Fervor, its place within the greater Louisville music scene and their upcoming album, Arise Great Warrior.
DCP: How did The Fervor come together initially? What previous experiences and mutual influences brought the band together? What keeps the band together now?
Felker: The Fervor was born out of Natalie’s songwriting and has slowly morphed into an animal with more of a collective consciousness. Our first recording, an EP, was pretty much a studio endeavor. At that point Natalie and I were the only members of the band. We sort of used that recording as a template with which to build the group. Mat Heron was brought in on drums and Meredith Noel on bass. We worked with this lineup for the next few years touring and recording our first full-length Bleeder. Meredith left the band shortly after and we eventually found Michael Campbell to be our bassist.
I feel that we’re bound more by a sense of aesthetics and process than we are by any particular shared influences. We aren’t really after any particular sound. We just want to create something that is musical and honest. The stuff we listen to as individuals is pretty varied but it all probably shares those elements.
DCP: With Louisville’s music scene standing as one of the most vibrant and eclectic in the Midwest, how do you feel that informs The Fervor? To what degree do you feel a kinship with the Louisville scene? What do you think defines Louisville as a music city?
Felker: In a lot of ways I feel like we lucked into Louisville. Mat and Michael both grew up here and have a history with the music scene that goes back to the heyday of Louisville hardcore, but Natalie and I moved here in our twenties and I can’t say that the state of the music scene was too much of a consideration. I really don’t feel like we could have landed in a better place. The atmosphere here is indeed very eclectic, but there is also this real sense of heart to so much of the music that comes out of here. That informs what we do more than any kind of a sound. There are many bands I feel a kinship with and they are all so different on the surface, but I do feel like there is this underlying thing: it’s people striving to actually make music that pleases their own ears. At times that can be a real struggle and I think that there is a general awareness in Louisville that we are all kind of fighting similar battles.
DCP: I understand the band has been busy recording the follow up to 2008’s debut, Bleeder. How did the songwriting for the album come together? Where did you record the album? How was the process this time around with the new lineup? When can we expect that disc to land?
Felker: The new album, Arise Great Warrior, is just about finished with the mastering process and should see release at the tail end of summer. In many ways this record is very different from the way we have previously worked. The songwriting and the performances are much more based in the spirit of the group on this record. For the most part the song ideas still started with Natalie or myself, but everything on this record really was constructed by us as a group. There’s just more of this sense of a collective consciousness to us now. That’s what we want to be driving us and that leads to a certain process. On this record it meant each of us looking at these songs from the perspective of the producer. It meant that we abandoned click tracks and focused on the four of us tracking live together to build the framework for the songs. Somewhere in there I think we all told each other that we love each other too.
We ended up tracking most of the record in San Francisco under the guidance of producer/engineer Charles Gonzales, which was incredibly inspiring. There is something about traveling to a different city with no other purpose than making a record that heightens the whole process. When you leave your home behind you can escape many of the distractions that can keep you from actualizing your creativity. San Francisco is also such a forward thinking city and that helped to free the mind up a bit as well.
DCP: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about the ongoing adventures of The Fervor?
Felker: I just want to give people a heartfelt invitation to come see a show if we come to your town. When we get in the van and drive to the shows it is because we have a special secret to tell you, but you can only hear it if you’re really, really listening.
The Fervor will perform Saturday, May 22 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Also on the bill are New Vega and Ed vs. Radio. Doors are at 9 p.m. and admission is $5 for all ages. For more information, visit www.TheFervor.com.