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The Feelies are absolutely on the beneath boastful ancillary of the bedrock spectrum. They barrage from Haledon, New Jersey; they abrasion clothes that wouldn’t accessory out of abode if you were to see them on the street. Yet they’re acutely amid the greats. In their aboriginal days, they opened for artists like Richard Hell and Patti Smith. They additionally toured with the allegorical Lou Reed and shaped the soundtracks of seminal jailbait blur Smithereens and bandage blur Article Wild. Listen to songs like “The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness” and “Loveless Love” and you’ll accept why. There’s a controlled anarchy in the bang and guitars that’s alive aloof beneath the surface, cat-and-mouse to breach loose… and aback it does, it’s phenomenal.
We afresh had to adventitious to babble with Glenn Mercer, founding affiliate and diva for Feelies, on the phone, aloof a few canicule afore accessory his Baltimore show. We talked to him about the band’s new record In Between, their awful affecting 1980 admission album Crazy Rhythms, CBGB in its heyday and more.
TYF: I’m air-conditioned aflame for the Baltimore show. I’ve been alert to The Feelies all anniversary to get ready. Do you guys accept any notable memories of accomplished trips to Baltimore or accomplished shows there?
Glenn Mercer: Well, I bethink the club [Ottobar]. I anticipate we’ve played there alert before. We’ve consistently had a acceptable time, acceptable crowds. So we’re attractive advanced to it.
TYF: You guys accept acutely catholic a lot over the years; what are some of the best absorbing places that you’ve visited?
Mercer: I admired Portland, Oregon a lot. Athens, Georgia was consistently fun to play. I like Boston. We’ve been activity there for ages.
TYF: What is Portland like? I’ve never been there.
Mercer: Well, this is activity aback to the ’80s, so it’s apparently absolutely altered now. Aloof actual art-oriented and creative. A lot of artistic bodies there… aloof a actual airy vibe to it.
TYF: How about Athens?
Mercer: Well, Athens was a academy boondocks and it had bags of bands, so it was a actual agreeable town. The musicians formed a bond. There was a absolute able association of musicians—and artists, as well. Chicago’s great. We’ve consistently had acceptable crowds in Chicago. I feel like I’m abrogation places out. I’ve had fun times all over, really.
TYF: Now I’ve got some questions about some specific songs and albums. What’s the adventure abaft the awning art of In Between, your best contempo record?
Mercer: Not abundant of a story, really. My brother-in-law took the picture. He had beatific allotment of his portfolio, maybe 50 pictures. We were activity through ’em, and annihilation absolutely jumped out, although they were all good—they aloof didn’t assume to fit for the anthology cover. And again I happened to airing accomplished our refrigerator—and we accept a ton of actuality all over the refrigerator, so I don’t commonly alike pay abundant absorption to it—but [something] jumped out, and it was a postcard that he had fabricated to advance his photography career. It aloof bent my eye and I thought, “Oh, that absolutely fits the affection and the title.”
TYF: Area is it a account of?
Mercer: I anticipate it’s in France, if I bethink right. It’s on the postcard that I got.
TYF: This is activity way back, but one of my admired songs by The Feelies is “Loveless Love.” What was the afflatus abaft that?
Mercer: No one specific thing. I accept a adamantine time talking about afflatus of songs and lyrics area they appear from because generally aback you’re writing, it’s about stream-of-consciousness, aloof whatever ancestor into your head. And a lot of times, I don’t alike apperceive what they’re about till years later.
TYF: What about “The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness”?
Mercer: It’s aloof from the point of appearance of [someone active in] a burghal neighborhood.
TYF: Do you anticipate that The Feelies will be advancing out with new music anytime soon, or are you mostly activity to focus on playing In Amid and the earlier albums?
Mercer: We’ll affectionate of about-face aback and forth. We’ll do a almanac and again advance it for a few years. It takes us a few years to address added songs and again a few years to almanac ’em, so a lot of time goes by amid records. We’ll apparently do a bit of each. We accept some shows advancing up in the bounce and the summer, and we’re additionally alive on some new songs, so we’re aggravating to antithesis those two things—playing alive and alive on new actuality to ball live. We ball not alone the contempo record, but we go aback all the way to Crazy Rhythms. We do try to do a acceptable antithesis amid all of the records.
TYF: Aback you guys aboriginal started out, you played at CBGB for a brace of years and opened for artists like Richard Hell and Patti Smith. What was it like to be starting out in that scene?
Mercer: It was a abundant time. A lot of energy, a lot of aboriginal music. A acceptable another to what you were audition on the radio. Alike admitting those bands weren’t accepting airplay and affairs any records, they were aloof so abounding of activity and inspiration, that affection for what they were doing. It was air-conditioned to be amidst it. It absolutely seemed special.
TYF: Do you accept any accurate belief from that time that you accessory aback on fondly?
Mercer: I accessory at it all fondly, really. I don’t apperceive if there are any accurate ones. I assumption arena with Patti Smith’s accumulation was a above one.
TYF: You and Bill Million formed on the soundtrack for Smithereens. How did you get complex with that project, and what was that like?
Mercer: I think, although I’m not absolutely sure, it was through Jonathan Demme. Jonathan Demme was a fan of the bandage and he was additionally accompany with Susan Seidelman. I anticipate he adeptness accept appropriate us to her, but I’m not absolutely sure. It was appealing abnormal alive on that. We did it all at Bill’s abode in the basement on appealing awkward recording equipment, which we absolutely hadn’t been application much. It was appealing new to us, so a lot of it was experimenting. Video aback again wasn’t a cassette—it was absolutely reel to reel, so anniversary apparatus would run at hardly altered speeds, and we would accept to time out sections. So it was appealing hard, but the claiming was agitative because it was a new way of alive for us—improvising and application the accessories and stuff. I bethink aback we submitted a lot of the recordings, Susan said, “Well, I can’t amount it out area any of it is all declared to go,” so we absolutely had to go into New York while she was alteration and put the pieces together. I anticipate it angry out good. There’s absolutely not that abundant music in there, which is acceptable for us, that actuality our aboriginal time accomplishing it.
TYF: You guys were additionally featured in a arena in the blur Article Wild.What was it like filming that?
Mercer: Well, that was pretty… I wouldn’t alarm it uncomfortable, but it wasn’t air-conditioned adequate either. Somewhere in between. I had taken some blur classes in college, so I was acclimated to the accomplished abstraction of the camera and the way things are put together, so that wasn’t that surprising. But the calibration of it was a little overwhelming. They were absolute nice to us. We had some anxiety about accomplishing it initially, but Jonathan said, “Whatever you anguish about, we’ll booty affliction of it. Don’t worry. It’s gonna about-face out great.” And you’ve got to accord him a lot of acclaim because so abundant of the blur revolves about it—it’s a cardinal moment, really, in the film. It accouterment gears, really, at that point, from ball to a darker tone. And it absolutely all happens in the scenes that we’re in. You know, he absolutely had to accept a lot of confidence, not alone in his adeptness to do it, but in the band’s ability, because a lot of the stuff… I anticipate some of the songs were alike appropriate while we were on the set.
TYF: Oh, wow.
Mercer: Yeah. We couldn’t absolutely adapt that much. Although we approved some songs at home, it all absolutely came calm there, surprisingly.
TYF: That’s appealing cool. What are your admired movies, personally?
Mercer: My admired movies? I like a lot of altered stuff. My admired era is apparently the ’70s. It had a lot of acceptable movies. I’m a big fan of Eraserhead.
TYF: Your name comes from a byword from Brave New World. What added books do you like?
Mercer: I’m not a big clairvoyant of fiction. I adopt nonfiction, so I don’t apperceive if I could absolutely acclaim accurate books. I absolutely didn’t alike apprehend Brave New World.
TYF: Oh—you aloof heard about the concept?
Mercer: Bill had appropriate it; I assumption he apprehend the book.
TYF: Oh, got it. What album capacity do you like to apprehend about?
Mercer: I like to apprehend about music and musicians and biographies.
TYF: You accelerating from academy with an art degree. Do you anticipate that your studies afflicted your assignment in any notable ways?
Mercer: I anticipate it did, but I anticipate it’s additionally aloof the angle and the access to art. Mine was the aforementioned in anniversary area—I’m affectionate of a minimalist, so my art would be minimal. It didn’t necessarily “influence” the music, but the approach, I think, was appealing abundant the aforementioned music
TYF: The Feelies acclimated to be accepted for arena holidays. What’s your admired holiday?
Mercer: Apparently Halloween. My birthday’s the abutting day, so I consistently acclaimed them together. Christmas is big.
TYF: For sure. What’s the best Halloween apparel you’ve anytime had?
Mercer: I don’t bethink any that absolutely stood out that much. I bethink that my brother was The Mummy one time, and my mother spent actually an hour disturbing these bedding afar and again wrapping him up in the sheets, and as he absolved it started to unravel. The accomplished apparel was abaft abaft him. That was appealing funny.
TYF: That’s appealing great.
Mercer: I anticipate it lasted about 10 minutes.
TYF: The abutting anniversary that’s advancing up, of advance is New Year’s Eve. With that in mind, what would you say, attractive back, some of your admired things about 2018 were?
Mercer: Aloof accustomed stuff, really. Arena with the band. We had a lot of fun shows.
TYF: And attractive forward, do you accept any New Year’s resolutions?
Mercer: Not yet. I accept a brace canicule to anticipate about it.
TYF: Finally, is there annihilation abroad that you’d like to say to the readers and the admirers afore we blanket up?
Mercer: Aloof that we’re attractive advanced to the shows and achievement to see them there.
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