Smile Politely

Putting in time with Finer Feelings

Its easy to get excited about a show coming through town. A band you really enjoy is coming through C-U, so, naturally, you’re looking forward to it. Combine looking forward to the show with actually playing with the band? That ups the ante. This is what is happening tonight with Finer Feelings.

You’ve probably seen Chris Davies’ articles here in the music section, but he does more than write about the music he hears for us. He has his own band, with the help of drummer Patrick Lyke, and they call themselves Finer Feelings. I talked with them prior to their show at Mike ‘N Molly’s with Night Beds about their upcoming full length, more details about their single release series, as well as where inspiration comes from.

Smile Politely: So who came up with the idea for the release series?

Patrick Lyke: Chris had the initial idea as a way to keep pushing new songs, as we record them. With our debut EP, there was probably eight months between recording and release, so we really wanted to do something with a (much) shorter turnaround. We also liked the idea because it gave us the chance to create a lot of artwork, i.e., a different cover for each single, which we think makes your iTunes library prettier. For this first single we painted over an old Neil Diamond 45 and wrote our song names in place of his (which may have ruined the value of that particular Neil Diamond 45). We haven’t thought of what the rest of the series will look like yet, but we’re definitely putting as much thought into the aesthetics as the music — because, why not?

SP: What are you looking to accomplish by putting out these tracks?

Chris Davies: The main thing is to get music out as fast as possible. We live in an instant gratification society where a person can record a song at home and release it the same day via Bandcamp. We’re not doing it quite at that pace, but we want to get as much music out as we can as fast as possible. Sitting on our last EP for so long left an impression on us, and by the time it was released we felt we had become a different band than the one that recorded those six songs. By doing this singles series we think we can give listeners a better impression of who we are right now, and who they’ll see on stage at one of our shows.

Finer Feelings: “Travelers”

[[mp3 finer_feelings_travelers]]

SP: Are you guys writing and recording these songs as you go?

Lyke: Yes and no. We had at least five songs written when we finished recording our debut EP last spring; since then, we’ve written another seven. However, as we record these, we’re adding nuance and texture and just doing experimental things with them in general. As a two-piece, we think it’s really important to fill out the sound in the studio. We do the best we can to maximize the aural experience live, but we can only do so much with drums and guitar. When we record, we like to play with bass, noise-makers, piano, organ, whatever we can get our hands on to make the songs richer.

SP: What are some ideas you guys have for the full length record? Inspirations?

Davies: The full length will include all of the songs from the digital seven inch series (with the exception of re-recorded material, like the alternate version of “Walls” on this first release) and at least three songs that were not a part of the series. However, we’ve been writing a lot, and since we plan to do at least four of these seven inches, it wouldn’t be surprising for the album to be composed of half songs not from the series. Either way, because these songs are being released digital only, we’re definitely going to do some kind of physical release for the album. It may be something like our Record Store Day “release,” which was our EP burned to a CD-R, four blank CD-Rs for the purchaser to make copies to distribute to friends, and a handful of random goodies (like goat’s milk lollipops and baseball cards).

SP: Talk about some artists you look towards when putting together new material.

Lyke: Chris has found inspiration from bands like Dawes, Bon Iver, Wilco, Josh Ritter, Jason Isbell, etc. I’ve been inspired by the drumming and rhythms from The Walkmen, Dodos, and Keith Moon. As the band name might suggest, both are also heavily influenced by Spoon. When the songs come together, however, they tend to take on a life all their own.

SP: So a new album by the end of the year. Are you guys planning on performing a bunch in the next few months? Concentrating on writing/recording?

Davies: We perform as much as we can. We’ve been lucky to get some higher profile gigs recently, and we hope to find more opportunities to play outside the C-U area, but we don’t plan on any excessive amount of shows. If we put out a new 7-inch every month-and-a-half (or so) over the next seven months, we hope to have a gig to play to promote the release, but that’s all in the planning stage right now (if that).

SP: Talk about the show with Night Beds. What are some of your thoughts and/or expectations with this show?

Lyke: Night Beds was one of Chris’s best discoveries in his annual musical walk-about during the lead-up to Pygmalion last year. He shared that discovery with me, and the band quickly became one of my favorites as well. For us, this is one of those shows where we’re thrilled to be sharing the stage, but almost more excited just to see them play. Beyond our personal affection for Night Beds, we’re excited to play for the crowd they bring in and we hope we can create some new fans from that group.

SP: You guys are pretty well looped into the local music scene here. What bands/acts are you digging, or anything else that has you excited within C-U music?

Davies: Well, obviously, both of us just think the new Grandkids album is spectacular. We’re also pretty bummed they’re leaving Champaign. Other bands that it’s not surprising we love include Elsinore, Common Loon, The Fights (full disclosure: Pat is in The Fights’ music video for “I Should Have Loved You”), Coed Pageant. We both also like Neoga Blacksmith and we’re really excited to see what they do in the next year. Pat is a big fan of Dino Bravo and the energy they bring to the stage (although I extend my regrets that I have not seen them yet). There was also a band called Little Lies that was doing thangs, but we’re not sure what’s going on with them anymore. Hopefully, they play more so people can hear them.


Finer Feelings are opening for Night Beds and Jenny O. tonight at Mike ‘N Molly’s. Tickets are $8 and the show starts at 10 p.m.

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