The Features | Salvation in the Wilderness

“One of the worst things about being on tour is the amount of downtime you have and being in a vintage arcade is a nice way to kill it.”



Maturation as a band is never an easy thing. Some bands do so with grace, others lumber awkwardly; some choose to redefine their sound while keeping some key elements intact, others just scrap one sound all together and attempt to create something altogether different. Nashville quartet The Features have been able to develop harmoniously – zeroing in on components like Matt Pelham’s distinct wails and croons, relentless percussion and stellar song composition.

The band’s latest release, Wilderness, is markedly different, cultivated and steeped in what helped them bloom the last time around (with their 2009 release Some Kind of Salvation) with an air of seasoned complexity, road wariness and a hint of mystery. Rollum Haas, drummer for The Features, took some time out of his day while on tour to talk a bit about the development of the band, signing with Kings of Leon’s record label Serpents and Snakes and the life-blood of any band (especially one who’s received more adulation overseas) – touring.  

How did you come to sign with Serpents and Snakes? Give us the whole story. 

         We’ve known Kings Of Leon since 2004 & have toured with them quite a bit. I suppose it all stems from that. We self released our last record, "Some Kind Of Salvation", and they started the label shortly after. They were nice enough to offer us a deal so we took it. That’s not the abridged version. I promise. 

Your live show is the talk of the town. What’s your favorite thing about playing live? 

        There’s a lot of things that are fun about it. Sometimes it’s fun to watch the people in the crowd. Sometimes it’s fun to throw in random drum fills that may or may not work. I like the uncertainty of it. Unless you’re a huge band that gets radio play or you’re a band that’s been touring the same places for a while you’re never quite sure how the crowd will react. Sometimes when you’re setting up, before you’ve played one note, you can see people sizing you up. Probably looking at your amplifier and instrument brands and trying to decide what you’re going to sound like.             

What do you look forward to most when touring? Do you have any favorite places to play, either venues and/or cities? 

     Usually, I’m not crazy about it. I’m grumpy, I’m married, I don’t party, and I like being at my house. When we have time to wander I like trying different food and looking for good record stores. As far as places to play go, JJ’s Bohemia in Chattanooga is always fun. Zanzabar in Louisville is amazing. Aside from the club being great, they have a huge collection of old arcade and pinball machines. One of the worst things about being on tour is the amount of downtime you have and being in a vintage arcade is a nice way to kill it.  

What kind of differences did you run in to between recording "Some Kind of Salvation" and the new album, "Wilderness" ?

     "Some Kind Of Salvation" was recorded in a strange way. The basic tracks were recorded for a while before we started with overdubs. To make a long story short, the original producer bailed out so we had to regroup and finish it without him. Despite everything I think the end result was good, but it certainly didn’t go according to plan. We always record live, but "Wilderness" feels more like that to me. Maybe because there wasn’t a lapse in recording, but I think it was more that we didn’t second guess ourselves as much.  | Jenn Metzler

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