It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.
Houston's own Featherface is a very interesting little group of indie-rockers. The music is ethereal, atmospheric, but somehow sinister underneath all of that. It's like that moment right before the killer jumps out. Sometimes it literally sounds like the instruments are trying to kick the crap out of each other without waking their parents, and sometimes you just get a good pop groove like in "A Youthful Offender (The Men We Will Be)."
Whatever your tastes, you'll probably find something in Featherface's bag of tricks to tickle your particular neurotic fancy. We're certainly digging what we hear... but that name.
Featherface? What the hell does that mean? Is this the late '90s all over again, where you take two words that have nothing to do with each other and force them to breed a crap band for you like some kind of liger with Downs Syndrome? Or does someone have feathers on their face?
Why? Man was not meant to fly, brother Icarus, and the gods will smite thee with a mighty anvil should you try.
To answer this question, we agreed to meet the band at the Houston Zoo. We found them inside the Tropical Bird House, casually leaning against the rail in the large central free-flight aviary. The jungle setting felt cool compared to the Houston air outside, and with care one can avoid stepping in the poo.
"Dreams have been the source of inspiration for much of our material, and Featherface kind of developed out of a dream I had about a room filled with large, very ornate, feather fans," said keyboard player Steve Wells. "I was all like, 'what?'"
"We're not exactly sure what it means, but we know that it makes us think of the grandeur of the '20s," added guitarist Kenny Hopkins. "Feather fans and The Great Gatsby and crystal doorknobs and Bing Crosby and stuff like that. Things we know very little about but have a very skewed interpretation of thanks to movies and late night PBS television."
Throughout the course of this column, Rocks Off has had more than one band claim inspiration for the band's name through dreams, and as such we've taken up a semi-serious study of dream interpretation.
Feathers have a variety of meaning depending on what context they appear in and what kind of feathers they are. Just a feather floating is usually a representation of leisure and financial security... or an unhealthy obsession with Forrest Gump. In this instance, ornate feathers, especially those used for decorative purposes only, tend to signify a desire to climb the social ladder. This is backed by Hopkins romanticizing of the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It's not that that time-period wasn't grand, it's just that most people forget that Fitzgerald was a drunken crazy person who basically ostracized everyone through being Mel Gibson level nutso. Also, we couldn't turn out a successful script to save his life, and his party-partner wife died in an asylum fire which she could've avoided by not catching crazy from her husband.
But what about the practical side of feathers? Many birds have them, and they're not all used for flight. For instance, penguins use them for waterproofing, and other species utilize feather for maintaining body temperature as much as for flying.
"Actually, the sole purpose of our feathers is for courting other feathered creatures," said Hopkins, extending a hand to let Micronesian Kingfisher land. The Guam sub-species is extinct in the wild. Only a handful of zoos are keeping the species from vanishing altogether.
"They are part of a very beautiful, very bizarre, somewhat offensive mating ritual," added Hopkins.
So in the end, Featherface is hoping for some kind of rise to aristocracy. They envy the colorful displays of both our avian allies and their own misconceptions of a lost glamorous past. We left them in the artificial jungle, escorted out by exotic and dying sounds.
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Featherface (n): 1. Audio higgledy-piggledy. 2. A social climber. 3. Endangered droppings.
Featherface plays tonight at Fitzgerald's with the Sunshine Factory, Bloody Knives, and Cop Warmth.