The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

Long before it got broken up into a million sub-genres, rock & roll was just rock & roll. Pure, true, organic. Six strings, booming harmonies and the call of the open road. It’s a singularly American tradition that Nashville’s The Wild Feathers are full-force dedicated to not only preserving but also – more importantly - evolving. Their sound melds the five unique voices of Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns and Preston Wimberly, and Ben Dumas, taking inspiration from across the musical spectrum – country, blues, folk and rock – and spinning it into a roaring web of warm, cosmic melodies with vintage roots and modern tones. The Wild Feathers are a rock band that feels impossibly fresh with the air of having been here all along.

Saints of Valory

Saints of Valory are the type of band that swing for the bleachers, crafting dramatic, sweeping, arena-ready rock filled with elegant pop hooks, shimmering guitars, and emotionally genuine lyrics. Songs like the rhythmically charged “Kids,” “Long Time Coming,” and “Neon Eyes” (all of which appear on the band’s current EP Possibilities) are widescreen in scope, announcing the considerable ambition of these self-assured newcomers as they gear up for the release of Into The Deep, their debut album for F Stop/Atlantic Records.

The album’s title, taken from a phrase in “Neon Eyes,” is symbolic of Saints of Valory’s imminent takeoff. “It’s about us launching ourselves into the future and everything that’s in store for us,” says guitarist Godfrey Thomson. “Like, ‘here we go, into the deep.’ And for the listener, they’re being launched into the depth of the album, into the journey of the songs.”

Saints of Valory’s journey to this moment has been one of numerous twists and turns, with the four band members hailing from three different continents — South America, Europe, and the U.S. — though they now call Austin, Texas, their home. Their origins are rooted in a childhood friendship between lead vocalist/bassist Gavin Jasper and Thomson, who met in Jasper’s native Rio de Janeiro while their parents were working abroad. Both boys received guitars at a young age and bonded over learning to play. “I definitely remember drawing a stage setup on a piece of paper when we were really young,” says Thomson, who moved to Brazil when he was a year old, while Jasper grew up in Rio. “We talked about who was going to play what instrument and what we were going to do —just two young kids dreaming about making a band.”

As the story goes, the boys stayed in touch after their families went their separate ways. Jasper learned to play bass and joined a country-rock band, while Thomson launched his own band. In 2008, many years after their childhood friendship began, Jasper and Thomson reunited in Brazil, with Thomson bringing along his friend Gerard Labou, a young drummer from France. Calling
themselves Saints of Valory (an inspired reference to Labou’s mother Valerie), the trio decided to form a band and took to MySpace to post their own tracks, which attracted initial interest from independent labels. Needing a space to rehearse for a showcase, they contacted their friend Stephen Buckle, who had a
small studio in his ranch-style home in Boerne, TX. Buckle was born in Greece to an American mother and Canadian father and spent most of his childhood in Thailand and Southeast Asia, but befriended Jasper during a four-year stint in Brazil. In April 2010, he joined the band full-time as a keyboardist.

“When we all got together, that’s when I first felt this could work,” Jasper says. “We played ‘Providence’ and there was this feeling in the room. It was the same feeling I had when I first heard ‘Where The Streets Have No Name,’ where things just click chemistry-wise and it lifts you up. You feel happier. And I thought, ‘If I can feel this in this room, then we can actually offer this to people and they will feel it, too.’”

In November, Saints of Valory self-released their first EP The Bright Lights, featuring an early version of “Providence,” which entered the Top 50 at Triple A radio, making them the only unsigned band in the upper reaches of the chart. In March 2012, they were chosen as one of Billboard’s top six unsigned bands
nationwide. In May, they self-released their second EP, Kids, which broke into iTunes’ Top Rock Albums chart, selling 1,700 copies its first week. It changed everything for them.

“We had toured for a year and half behind Bright Lights and hadn’t paid back the cost to record it,” Jasper explains. “We were still in the hole. We were just making enough on the road to pay the bills as far as staying on the road, but not to make a new record. But we knew we had to put out new material, so it was a leap of faith to make Kids. We went back into the studio, spent a bunch more money that we didn’t have, and the instant we put it out the reactions began rolling in from the industry. It all kind of snowballed from that point on.”

“Kids” is now one of the highlights of Into The Deep, which features new and improved versions of previously released tracks, as well as a handful of new songs, including “Long Time Coming” and “Back Up” (which are also on the new EP Possibilities). The album was produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Chiccarelli (Jason Mraz, The White Stripes), whom the band praises as an amazing engineer. “That’s where he really shines,” Jasper says. “The sound he got for the record is tremendous.”

Thomson describes Saints of Valory’s sound as music that makes listeners feel uplifted. “We like the idea of making older people feel young again and making young people feel like they’re really living,” he says. Adds Buckle: “We just want
to take people somewhere and make them feel an emotion. We want them to feel something when they hear the music. If we’ve managed that on this album, we’ve done our job.”

Jamestown Revival

The story of Jamestown Revival feels suited for the dog-eared pages of a timeless American novel.

Chapter one opens with Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance meeting in Magnolia, TX at 15-years-old. Fast friends, the duo attended college together, started Jamestown Revival, and traded their home state for Los Angeles, CA in late 2011. By 2014 they released their debut album UTAH (which included the hit single ‘California’), built a committed fan base with countless road shows, and received critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal. They were named iTunes “Best of 2014: Singer-Songwriter Album of the Year,” graced the sound stages of Conan and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and performed at some of America’s legendary music festivals including Coachella, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Bottlerock Festival, and Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic

“UTAH opened a lot of doors for us and put us on the road for the first time,” says Zach. “We learned how to play for a crowd and how to perform.”

But when it came time to record a second album, the band found themselves in a different place.

“This album is like chapter two,” agrees Jonathan. “The story begins at the point where we decided to head back to Texas. We wrote many of the songs when we were entering a different phase of our lives. We settled back into Austin, and my wife and I had our first child. That was a big shift. It was all about leaving behind our last bastion of adolescence, if you will.”

This process resulted in The Education Of A Wandering Man [Republic Records], an album that looks back at the journey of the band’s past. The record chronicles the lessons learned and the experiences that color the life-lived along the way.

“This album is a snapshot of our observations and learnings over the past four years. Our education has been gained not in a classroom, but in our experience,” Zach and Jonathan write in a letter to fans announcing the album.

Musically, the record remains loyal to Jamestown Revival’s indie rock/alt country aesthetic while also reaching into new creative territory.

“You can hear all of our influences on the new album. It feels like a late night drive after a show. There’s some Motown, rock ‘n’ roll, and even a little country. We paid homage to a lot of the people we listened to while stuck in a car between gigs,” says Zach.

Tapping into almost a lifetime of natural chemistry, the band started sharing musical ideas while sitting on Jonathan’s porch before holing up in a Hill Country farmhouse a few hours from Austin for recording. Producing themselves alongside longtime collaborator Ryan Lipman, the sessions lasted only two weeks, and Jamestown Revival emerged with 12 new tracks.

“It was a bunch of good friends in a relaxed setting making a record,” says Zach. “It never felt like a nine-to-five. We could have a smoke outside, play horse on the basketball hoop, and hang out and wait for the muse to find us.”

Though the record came together quickly, nailing down the first song proved more difficult. After wrestling to overcoming the pressure, the band emerged with their first single “Love Is A Burden,” kick-starting the creative process.

“We wrote that song about our last single ‘California’,” admits Jonathan. “When we started writing, all we did was compare every song we wrote to ‘California.’ We never thought anything lived up to it, and that started to squelch our creativity. This piece of music that did amazing things for us became like a lead weight. ‘Love Is A Burden’ is about the successes, the failures, the triumphs, and the fears of the past really starting to weigh you down and having a hard time moving on. It’s a metaphor we related to a relationship you can’t move past in the lyrics. As far as inspiration goes, the chorus just popped in my head, and we ran with it. After all of that overthinking, it was done in ten minutes.”

Album opener “Company Man” captures the heartbreak of corporate greed. “My family’s got some land where we birthed the idea of Jamestown Revival, and we’ve both been going there together since we were kids,” says Jonathan. “"One day my family gets a call that there’s an oil company who wants to put a pipeline right through the property. They were doing it under the protection of ‘public domain’. That piece of land is sacred to us, but ironically, nobody else cared about it until there was something to gain.” Company Man speaks to that feeling of helplessness and frustration.

“American Dream” comments on similar themes, while “Head On” explores the claustrophobia of the concrete jungle. Elsewhere, the acoustic-driven “Back To Austin” serves as an upbeat love letter to their hometown. Throughout, the record speaks to themes inherent to the meaning within its title The Education Of A Wandering Man.

“The Education Of A Wandering Man is actually an autobiography by classic western novelist Louis L’Amour,” Zach says. “He traveled the world and lived a fascinating life Jonathan and I read the book years ago and fell in love with it. It’s like looking back on a life unplanned. That really resonated with us when we were making the album. The more you travel, the more perspective you get. Our travels have been an education.”

For Jamestown Revival, the album is simply a continuation of their ongoing story. “We’ll be writing and telling stories until we’re six feet under,” Jonathan leaves off. “This album is just the next step on the path.”

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