“We want to be the biggest rock ‘n’ roll band in the f—ing country.”
So says Taylor Burns, one-third of the harmonic powerhouse fronting the up-and-coming American rock band The Wild Feathers, when I ask him what he wants for his band.
Many musicians talk about the privilege of simply playing for a living, but Burns offers the unvarnished truth: “We’re not afraid of success. We don’t want to sacrifice integrity to get there, but I think there’s a void in rock music today that needs to be filled… I’m not saying we’re the answer, but we’re a f—ing step in the right direction.”
As Burns describes it, though, it’s not about money or fame for fame’s sake: “I want to affect change or evoke emotion or some sort of feeling in everyone, and the more people that hear it, the more chance you have to do that,” he told Business Insider. “That’s what writing music is all about… If we fail, we fail, but at least we f—ing went for it.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking his statements smack of arrogance, but that’s not the feeling you get around the band.
It’s clear Burns and his fellow band leaders, Ricky Young and Joel King, love playing with each other, and they’re going to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.
“We’re a band in the true definition,” Young said. “We’re a band of brothers.”
Prior to The Wild Feathers, all three vocalists were band leaders in their own right. Young and King met on what they call “the backstage hangout circuit” in Nashville, Tennessee. As King describes it, “Everyone’s drinking and talking about being in bands more than actually being in bands.”
That wasn’t the case for King and Young, who were eager to start something. But before they became The Wild Feathers, the two went to Austin, Texas, for what they call “a crazy weekend.”
“Joel was looking for weed… of course,” Burns jumps in to help tell the story.
Young and King were also looking for a third voice to add to the nascent band, and their friends told them, “Same guy… call Taylor.”
From there, the three jumped into the studio to start demoing tracks together.
“Singing is an intimate thing. Not all people’s voices blend,” Burns said. “Even though we had to work at it, I’d say it was natural right off the bat.”
The vocal fit immediately becomes clear on their forthcoming sophomore album, “Lonely Is a Lifetime,” out March 11. Their sound has hardened from the first album, and has far less of their previous Americana or country-tinged work.
“We want to be an evolving rock band… The last thing we wanted to do was be an alt-country band forever,” Young said.
Whatever genre it falls under, the new album is clearly arranged, recorded, and mixed as a complete musical thought as opposed to a ragtag collection of singles. “Goodbye Song” is a courageous rock odyssey clearly born on stage, and the final song carries that live curiosity and exploration through into the studio version.
“Happy Again,” a standout, sounds upbeat, but the lyrics are tortured and tragic — a statement about drugs’ dark and beautiful duality. That theme crops up on both of the band’s albums.
“I think it’d be disingenuous not to sing about drugs when everybody we know does drugs… We’re singing about what we know, about our environment,” King said.
“We’re all chasing some sort of high,” Burns added. “Whether it’s prescription pills, or going to work out, or whatever it is you’re looking for in life… We’re all chasing a high, and we like to sing about it.”
“In my opinion, no one really sings about real shit any more. At least not in the mainstream,” Young said. “All of our heroes write about really dark shit.”
It’s one more way that The Wild Feathers aren’t afraid to be bigger.
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