The Features to play at Mickey Finn’s Pub on Nov. 17Written by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Fourteen years after the release of his band’s first EP, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pelham feels The Features are still playing catchup to where he thought the group would be by now. Still, it’s been nice to have support from his friends.
In 2009, the indie rockers with Tennessee roots released their second album, “Some Kind of Salvation” under the label of another band with ties to their home state, Kings of Leon.
“I do think there’s an advantage to that,” Pelham said. “They’re good friends of ours, so they seem to care about our best interests, which is nice. You can’t say you’re always going to get that from a big label. It’s worked out well so far.”
Comprised of Pelham, Roger Dabbs (bass), Rollum Haas (drums) and Mark Bond (keyboards), The Features will perform at Mickey Finn’s Pub on Nov. 17. The show is part of its fall tour in support of its second release, “Wilderness,” which came out in July on Kings of Leon’s Serpents and Snakes Records. Having once been with a big label, Pelham knows all too well what it’s like for a record company to not have its artists’ best interests in mind.
After the debut of its self-titled EP in 1997, The Features’ second EP — “The Beginning” — was released by U.K. indie label Fierce Panda in 2003. Universal Records rereleased the EP in the U.S. with an additional track in March 2004. That was followed by The Features’ debut album “Exhibit A” releasing on Universal Records in September 2004.
“We were a couple weeks from going in to record our second record with Universal, and we had been having a really hard time getting them to approve the budget to do that,” Pelham said. “And when they finally said yes, about right at the same time they told us that we had to record “All You Need Is Love” for a credit card commercial and we didn’t really feel comfortable with that.
“We declined the offer and I guess for the most part it was an ultimatum, so we ended up losing the deal over that by turning down the request to record the song.”
Though the drop from Universal Records was a setback, The Features’ relationship with Kings of Leon had already begun.
“That happened when we released our first record,” Pelham said. “We had our record release show. They actually came out to it and enjoyed the show and asked us to do some touring with them. So we ended up doing quite a bit of touring off and on for the next couple of years.”
“Wilderness” cracked the top 50 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart in August and drew critical acclaim from SPIN, who gave the record a rating of eight out of 10. The Features have also gotten some mainstream attention, performing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” the same day “Wilderness” came out and getting its song “From Now On” on the soundtrack for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part 1).”
“I feel like over the years we’ve sort of seen the highs and lows [of the music industry] from every angle,” Pelham said. “Not that we don’t really get excited anymore, but I definitely feel like it takes a lot more for us to feel like things are changing. At this point we all feel good about things that are happening, but I don’t think we’re going to lose our heads and just focus on the things that are kind of important to us.”
Pelham and Dabbs grew up together in the small town of Sparta, Tenn., and Pelham said the reason the pair has stuck with The Features after three unreleased albums, being dropped from a major label and approximately 18 years playing gigs is simply their love for music.
“Honestly, it just comes down to [music] is what we like to do and that’s what we want to do,” Pelham said. “We work day jobs and we do whatever we have to do on the side to make ends meet, but I feel like everyone should do what they like to do, so that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Tickets are available at etix.com.