An Interview with Tonight’s Featured Act, The Features

Over the past year, The Features have become one of our favorite bands outside of the Seattle area. While the band has been doing quite well in Europe, most notably the UK, for years, it’s only been relatively recently that the Tennessee rock band has started getting the same attention and respect stateside. You may have heard The Features on KEXP or perhaps you even heard the band because you happened to tune into PBS’ surprisingly captivating documentary mini-series Circus.

Or maybe this is your first time hearing about the band. Whatever the case may be, continue on to read our interview with drummer Rollum Haas and check out the band in person as they open for Kevin Devine at El Corazon tonight.

For those not yet familiar with your band, what key elements might help them identify what they’re hearing as The Features?

We’re a four piece rock band that has keyboards instead of another guitar, we don’t do a lot of solos/showboating, and our singer doesn’t sound like a fey indie rocker or the guy from Creed.

At what point did you start seeing the reactions to your original songs become positive enough to warrant the jump from being a band heavy on covers to one that plays its own material?

By the time I joined in ’98 we were long past that point. I know that Matt started writing his own songs pretty early on. When we rehearse we always just mess around with new material, so unless it’s a special occasion or we’re asked, we don’t bother. Occasionally we’ll talk about it but it hasn’t happened in years.

Kings of Leon certainly have their legion of fans as well as an equally devoted army of those who decry them as America’s Nickelback (which is a compliment in some circles, less so in others…) Have you found either positive or negative reactions from fans after hearing you’ve signed to KOL’s label?

I haven’t seen anything negative from it but I understand what you’re getting at. There’s very little in between with music fans these days……kind of like politics. The indie world is as fickle as the pop world.

There’s a whole unspoken list of things that bands aren’t allowed to do if they want to be perceived as being cool. I think the Kings had a hard time with that crowd because they didn’t listen to the bands those people think you’re supposed to listen to and look how they think you’re supposed to look. Also if your music appeals to a certain type of person, the elitists will stay away rather than risk association(even if they like it). Whatcha gonna do? There’s plenty of bands heralded by that crowd that are good but a lot more that are total horse-shit. It’s always been that way. Black Sabbath got crummy reviews yet there were bands that based an entire career off of individual songs from them so now they’re respected. Sorry for giving you an essay…

How did your involvement with PBS’s great documentary mini-series Circus come about?

A fan of the band was involved with the project and wanted us to be a part of it. It’s always a nice surprise when stuff like that happens.

If you lived in a parallel universe where all bands in 2011 had to become tribute bands, which band would you choose as your new identity for the year?

If I had to pick a newer band, The Walkmen. If I had to pick an older band, Roxy Music.

Are there any bands from Seattle that make your van’s playlist?

We’ve talked about covering “Rusty Cage”. Just talk….We all like Jimi Hendrix. I always hear that Nirvana’s from Aberdeen, but they’d be on there. Most Seattle bands are too tough for us. Any individual member of any band from Seattle could beat up our entire band.

Anything in particular that you’re looking to do with your time in Seattle?

My wife is coming up to visit me so I get to have a break from what’s sure to be a smelly van for a bit. My memories of Seattle are a little fuzzy. I remember a lot of sake, a lot of hills, hot dogs with cream cheese, and helping a guy push his car out of the road.

9/16 Kevin Devine / The Features / Dane Ueland @ El Corazon / $12 advance, $15 doors / 9:00 pm / All Ages

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