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New Featherface LP Conjures Some Actual Magic

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It's been more than two years since Houston's Featherface has released a new record, though that doesn't mean that they were short on actively contributing to the local scene.

Since the release of their last EP, It Comes Electric, they've performed many shows and have been steadily growing in popularity. Before performing at Free Press Summer Fest, their new record Actual Magic will be released tonight at Fitzgerald's, where they will be providing access to a free digital download of their new album.

Based on their last album, Featherface's woozy, textured sound set itself apart with its lush energy and catchy hooks. They're a call to psychedelia with a modern twist, their live shows further so.

They say that Actual Magic is going to be more psych-rock and more clearly showing their influences, with their live shows equally delivering that.

I sat down with Featherface to talk about their music and dreams of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, amongst other things.

Rocks Off: So how did you guys meet?

Kenny Hopkins (guitar, vocals): I guess we all know each other since junior high. Eighth grade, actually, is when we started playing in various bands with each other, and just never stopped doing that.

RO: Who were your favorite bands growing up, and how would you say that influences your style today?

KH: Hm. We were kind of talking about that yesterday. Um, I think Led Zeppelin is a big, big thing for us, making us want to be in a rock band, you know? (laughs) The aura of like a really cool rock band. And then I'd say the Beatles. Makes sense in general.

RO: What has been your favorite gig so far?

KH: I'm going to say the Main Street Block Party. We played the Continental Club, and it was just really fun. It was a really good crowd and it sounded good. Yeah, that's been the highlight for me so far.

RO: How did you guys come up with your band name?

Steven Wells (keyboards, vocals, guitar): It doesn't really have a meaning. We try to kind of give it meaning, but it really doesn't. It's kind of just a feel. I don't know because our name just kind of came out with the feel of our music.

I really have no explanation for it, honestly. We tried to give it meaning in the past, but... really, that meaning was empty. It just sounds good.

RO: It does. Sell us your new LP.

SW: It's kind of everything we've ever worked for and thought of put into an album. And, uh, I would say it's our first thing that we're putting out that we actually feel like a real band, putting out music, instead of just like, a group of kids putting out some random songs.

KH: It's very cohesive and a lot more thought out than anything we've ever done before. It's also just a lot more of a rock and roll album, I would say, and that kind of excites us, for the same reason earlier that we were talking about Led Zeppelin, and that kind of stuff.

The whole aura thing. We never really thought we'd make something, so I guess rock and roll.

RO: Whereas your album before sounded a little more pop. It had some catchier hooks and whatnot.

KH: Right. And there's still a lot of that. It's still not just the traditional rock and roll thing. It's a little bit more crazy. It is definitely more psychedelic. We finally allowed our influences to kind of shine through.

RO: I feel like your live performances of your past album seem more psychedelic live than recorded so, would you think that you would get the same effect with the new album?

Jake Harris (bass): I like that. And yeah, definitely.

KH: Thank you. I would say that the new album is just going to be naturally a lot more psychedelic. Um, but there's still a lot of, kind of abrasive stuff. More heavy stuff as opposed to just trippy.

RO: How do you think you've grown since the start of your band?

KH: I would say we've literally grown up since the start of our band. Steve and I just graduated college and we're actually, you know, playing gigs regularly, which we weren't able to do before. We're making music regularly, which we never did before.

I'd say we've kind of gone from a group of friends sort of imitating a band to actually being a band, which is a weird thing for us. Other than that, I think we've gotten better just by playing, and, um, we've kind of learned what we wanted out of our songs by playing them in front of people and getting a reaction, and that's kind of shaped how our band has changed.

RO: And then you guys are playing at Free Press Summer Fest. Who are you most excited to see there?

JH: Willie Nelson. Oh, and Erykah Badu!

SW: Um, definitely want to see the Flaming Lips again. I saw them last time and they were pretty much life-changing, so.

KH: I'm just all about the Snoop Dogg, so.

RO: Who would be your dream artist of all time to perform with?

KH: I'm going to say Deep Purple because they're pretty much my favorite live band of all time.

RO: Sounds amazing. I'd go see that.

SW: Even though he doesn't sound much like us at all, I guess Nick Drake would probably be my dream guy to be onstage with.

RO: Ah, if only that were possible. I'd go see that, too.

With New York City Queens, Mojo Stone and Ben Godfrey, 8 p.m. tonight at Fitzgerald's.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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