Feelin’ a comeback

Hoboken sensation ‘The Feelies’ debut new album in April

There were times when Glenn Mercer, the vocalist and guitarist for the well-known local band “The Feelies,” and the rest of the group were unsure if they’d be able to arrive at the next stop on their tours because, well, the motor home they toured in kept breaking down.
It may not have been the way Johnny Cash travelled, but the band admits they did just fine.
Now, after disbanding in 1991, the close-knit band is back at it, ready to release a new album called “Here Before” in April.
The band is originally from Haledon and made a name for themselves in Hoboken at Maxwell’s, a venue that continues to be a popular hotspot for up and coming musicians.


The Feelies plan to release “Here Before” in April 2011.

The new ventures of the band will be different than what they experienced in the past.
“We did a tour in 1984 in a motor home that was real budget,” Mercer said. “It was hard but it was a lot of fun.”
Mercer said the cross-country ride to various college towns, playing in front of large crowds, “brought the band together.”
The band’s popularity skyrocketed in the 1970s, and frankly, Mercer isn’t sure why.
“I don’t know,” he said. “In general it was a good time for independent music. College radio probably had a factor in there. There were a lot of clubs to play in.”

Hoboken ties

The favorite spot for the band was Maxwell’s, according to Mercer.
“The first time we played Maxwell’s was in 1980,” Mercer said. “We did an unannounced warm-up show for our first trip to England.”
Maxwell’s drew a special kind of crowd during that time, Mercer believes.
“We liked the club in particular because the people who went to see us there seemed to be there for that reason, to see the band,” he said. “The people didn’t come to just hang out. A lot of clubs at the time in New York, people would just come to hang out. At Maxwell’s, people were there to see the band.”
Steve Fallon, the owner of Maxwell’s, became the band’s manager.
“Aside from performing there, we would also rehearse there,” he said. “So we have a pretty strong tie to the club.”
The band will play at Maxwell’s once again to showcase their newest work in July.

A changing music scene

Mercer believes the music scene has changed since the band’s heyday.
“In some ways it’s harder [to break into the business], but in some ways it’s easier,” Mercer said. “It’s harder because there are less places to play now than there used to be, but bands don’t need to rely on record labels. But there are so many more bands that it’s harder to get noticed now a days.”
The disbandment of The Feelies had many contributing factors, according to Mercer.
“One thing was that our record label got bought out by a large company and all the people we had established a relationship with had left the company,” he said. “All the new people came in, and we didn’t have a relationship with them.”
Since the band broke apart, they have still performed together, with reunion shows as recent as 2008. However, the decision to write a new album is something that lingered for quite some time.
“We had offers dating back to 2004 and 2005,” Mercer said. “A lot of offers to play and record, but it was really a matter of timing for us to get our schedules worked out to do it the way we wanted to do it. We wanted to devote 100 percent of our attention on the new project and avoid doing it half-heartedly.”
Since that time, most of the members of the band have stayed active in the music community.
After the band split, Mercer and Dave Weckerman, the percussionist and vocalist, formed a band called “Wake Ooloo.”
“We put out three albums on the Pravda label from Chicago,” Mercer said. “Then after that, I put out a solo record on the same [label] in 2007.”

Looking ahead…

Other members formed their own offshoot bands, but now they’re back together as The Feelies.
“We haven’t played together since last July,” Mercer said. “Between the writing, demoing, rehearsing, arranging, and recording, we’ve been preparing for about a year. We’re excited to be playing again.”
Though it’s been a few years since The Feelies played together, the dynamic of their music will not change much in their new album, “Here Before.”
“We do what we’ve always done,” Mercer said of the new music. “Songs start the same way, acoustics are the same, vocals, and then we take it from there. Nothing is too different.”
The Feelies are made up of Stan Demeski, Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Brenda Sauter, and Dave Weckerman. For more information, visit TheFeeliesweb.com. Their music is available on iTunes.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com


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