The Feelies performing in Central Park on July 18, 2016
|Origin||Haledon, New Jersey, United States|
|Past members||Keith DeNunzio|
The Feelies are an American rock band from Haledon, New Jersey. They formed in 1976 and disbanded in 1992 having released four albums. The band reunited in 2008, and released new albums in 2011 and 2017.
Although not commercially successful, the Feelies had an influence on the development of American indie rock. Their first album, Crazy Rhythms (Stiff Records, 1980) was cited by R.E.M. as a major influence. The Feelies were influenced by the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. Novelist Rick Moody has cited the band as one of his influences.
The Feelies rarely worked with outside producers and created shimmering soundscapes with multiple guitar layers and percussion.[according to whom?] They frequently played at Maxwell's, a live music venue and bar restaurant in Hoboken during the 1980s.
The band's name is taken from a fictional entertainment device described in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman and vocalist Richard Reilly began playing together in 1976 in Haledon, New Jersey in a band called the Outkids. The Outkids evolved into the Feelies with the addition of Vinny DeNunzio on drums and John Papesca on bass.
In 1978, the Village Voice dubbed the then-unsigned Feelies "The Best Underground Band in New York". With the line-up of Mercer, Million, Vinny DeNunzio's brother Keith DeNunzio on bass and Anton Fier on drums, the Feelies released their first single, "Fa Cé-La", on Rough Trade Records in 1979.
After Crazy Rhythms, Fier and Keith DeNunzio left the band. With the Feelies in limbo, Mercer and Million collaborated with other local New Jersey musicians, forming one of a number of Feelies offshoots, The Trypes, featuring some once and future Feelies members, including Brenda Sauter, Dave Weckerman and Stanley Demeski of pop band Luna, as well as John Baumgartner, Marc Francia and Toni Paruta. The Trypes, quieter and more psychedelic than the Feelies, played regular live gigs around the New York/Hoboken scene at clubs such as Maxwell's and Folk City. In 1984, Coyote Records released the Trypes 12" EP, Music for Neighbors, produced by Million and Mercer, The Explorers Hold, featuring three original songs (credited to Mercer alone or with other band members), plus a cover of the George Harrison song, "Love You To", which originally had appeared on The Beatles' Revolver. The Trypes also contributed a Million/Mercer-produced original song, "A Plan Revised", to the 1985 Coyote anthology of Hoboken acts, Luxury Condos Coming To Your Neighborhood Soon. Some members of the Trypes later formed the band Speed The Plough. In 2012, Acute Records reissued the Music for Neighbors LP, which quickly sold out and is now only available through their digital release on iTunes and Spotify.
Million, Mercer, Sauter, Demeski and Baumgartner also gigged around New York and Hoboken under the name, Yung Wu, which was fronted by and featured the songs of Feelies' percussionist Dave Weckerman, who also sang lead. Yung Wu released one album on Coyote Records in 1986, titled Shore Leave. It featured Weckerman originals, plus covers of "Big Day", "Child of the Moon", and "Powderfinger", a staple of their live gigs.
The Willies, also known as The Willies From Haledon, were yet another Feelies offshoot that played around the New York/Hoboken clubs in the early 1980s. The Willies shared a similar lineup as the later Feelies, but their live sets consisted mostly of cover songs, extended instrumentals and psychedelic jams, such as "Third Stone From the Sun" and "Sedan Delivery". The Feelies' appearance in Jonathan Demme's Something Wild was credited to the Willies.
The members of the Feelies never stopped playing and collaborating in the 1980s, earning them the distinction of being "the New York area's best-loved underground rockers since the late 1970s", according to Jon Pareles of The New York Times in 1986. The band occasionally even performed under the name "The Feelies", often on holidays at Maxwell's. At least one such gig featured a reunion of the Crazy Rhythms line-up of Million, Mercer, DeNunzio and Fier. By the late 1980s, the band re-emerged from their self-imposed exile with new members and their first new album in six years.
Reformed as a quintet featuring Mercer, Million, Weckerman, Sauter and Demeski, the Feelies recorded The Good Earth in 1985 with Peter Buck of R.E.M. on board as co-producer with Mercer and Million. The album was released in 1986 and featured ten original Mercer/Million compositions. The band toured in support of the album as an opening band for Lou Reed as well as R.E.M. that year.
In 1988, the Feelies signed to a major label and released the album Only Life on A&M Records. The lineup was the same as The Good Earth, and Mercer and Million again handled production duties. The disc was a critical favorite, coming in at No. 27 on the Village Voice's 1988 Pazz & Jop critics' poll. Recently, the album's title track has been used as the introductory music for the Harvard Business Review's HBR Idea Cast
In March 2011 The Feelies released an album entitled Here Before produced by Bill Million and Glenn Mercer, on the Bar/None record label. The band remains "one of the nation's most beloved alternative-rock bands."
The Feelies sixth studio album, In Between, was released in February 2017, also on the Bar-None label. Reviews were generally favorable, with Metacritic calculating an average critical rating of 81%.
The Feelies performing at on the 2019 tour at Rough Trade Brooklyn
The Feelies have reunited sporadically over the last two decades to play concerts at their early home at Maxwell's. The band most recently performed there for three consecutive nights on July 4–6, 2013.
A reunited Feelies are scheduled to play at Wilco's every-other-year festival Solid Sound in North Adams, MA in June 2019.
The band was featured in the 1986 Jonathan Demme movie, Something Wild, playing a band at a high school reunion. Credited as "The Willies", they performed bits of five songs, including "Crazy Rhythms" and "Loveless Love" as well as covers of David Bowie's "Fame" and the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" (written by Neil Diamond).
No Feelies songs appeared on the Something Wild soundtrack, but their song "Too Far Gone" was included on the Married to the Mob soundtrack, another Demme film. Million and Mercer were also brought together by director Susan Seidelman to create the score for her film, Smithereens. The song "Let's Go" from the band's second album "Good Earth" is featured on the soundtrack of Noah Baumbach's 2005 film "The Squid and the Whale".
Side projects and alumni bands
- Wild Carnation featuring Brenda Sauter and her husband Richard Barnes (both also of Speed The Plough) has released two albums: Tricycle and Superbus.
- Wake Ooloo featured Mercer and Weckerman, and released three albums with both Mercer and Weckerman on vocals through Chicago-based record label Pravda Records.
- Anton Fier formed The Golden Palominos and has toured with Bob Mould.
- Stanley Demeski joined and toured with the band Luna
- Demeski, Weckerman, and Mercer have been playing in a band called the Sunburst with former Speed The Plough members Marc Francia, Toni Paruta, and John Baumgartner.
- Glenn Mercer's debut solo CD was released by Pravda Records in May 2007. It includes performances by Stanley Demeski, Vinny DeNunzio, Dave Weckerman, Anton Fier and Brenda Sauter.
- Vinny DeNunzio played drums and co-wrote a song on former Television guitarist Richard Lloyd's first solo album, Alchemy.
- Glenn Mercer – guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion (1976–1991, 2008–present)
- Bill Million – guitars, vocals, percussion (1976–1991, 2008–present)
- Stan Demeski – drums and percussion (1983–1991, 2008–present)
- Brenda Sauter – bass guitar, violin and backing vocals (1983–1991, 2008–present)
- Dave Weckerman – percussion (1984–1991, 2008–present)
- Vinny DeNunzio – drums (1976–1978)
- John Papesca – bass guitar (1976–1979)
- Keith DeNunzio a/k/a Keith Clayton – bass guitar, percussion, background vocals (1979–1982)
- Anton Fier a/k/a Andy Fisher – drums, percussion (1978–1979)
- Crazy Rhythms (Stiff LP 1980)
- The Good Earth (Coyote / Twin/Tone LP 1986)
- Only Life (A&M LP 1988)
- Time for a Witness (A&M LP 1991)
- Here Before (Bar/None CD 2011)
- In Between (Bar/None CD 2017)
- No One Knows (Coyote / Twin/Tone EP 1986)
- Higher Ground (A&M 1988)
- Uncovered (Bar/None 2016)
|US Modern Rock|
|1979||"Fa Cé La"||Crazy Rhythms|
|1991||"Sooner or Later"||13||Time for a Witness|
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- Note: also omitted was the version of The Troggs' Wild Thing, after which the film was entitled.
- "The Squid and the Whale". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2012-10-09.