Q&A: The Feelies' Glenn Mercer On Overloading Preamps, Constant Writing, And The Status Of Time For A Witness
Glenn Mercer, singer/guitarist/co-founder of New Jersey's modestly legendary Feelies, is a warm, soft-spoken guy who hasn't altered much of anything about his music in, oh, twenty years. Sound of the City recently chatted with him about his band's new and old material--Here Before, the Feelies' recent album, is the group's first since 1991--his band's critical stature, and how the vinyl resurgence has affected him.
The Feelies reunited in 2008. What happened with the band in the three years leading up to [2011's] Here Before?
Well, we played shows, mostly on the East Coast, and started writing songs around that time. And we realized after about a year and a half, that we get together so infrequently that for us to really make another album, we had to put our live shows on the back burner. And it was about a year since making the decision to make an album the top priority. So it was about a year of writing all the songs, rehearsing, mixing, recording. It was a slow process, since we're really kind of spread out: Bill's in Florida, Brenda's in Pennsylvania.
Are any of the new Feelies songs left over from your solo album [2007's Wheels in Motion]?
No. I used all the songs at that point on my solo record and then the band reunited. I always write.
It's a remarkably consistent-sounding record with the rest of your career. Are there any big differences in what you're writing about 20 years after the band's last album?
I don't really set out with themes in mind. I basically write the same way I've always written. I can't say anything's different, though I guess I've matured as a person a little bit.
I actually found "Morning Comes" kind of sexy.
I think we've kind of had those elements before. With 13 songs, we got to explore a wider range of variety in tempos and textures and stuff.
Should we expect another Feelies record in a couple years? Are you guys expecting this run to last awhile?
Well, I don't see any reason why we won't... but anything could happen, really. So we're not taking for granted that it's a given.
Do you think the critical assessment of the band is unfairly weighted towards the earliest records?
Uhh...[long pause] Somewhat. But I guess that just has more to do with the times they were released and...[pause again] I don't know. I guess they do kind of focus on the first two a lot. It's kind of a shame that Time for a Witness isn't available. The other ones are, but we've actually gotten a lot of response from people saying that's their favorite, so...