B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
James Felice: Oddly Enough, I have often been associated with oxen and bulls. Mostly this is because of my appearance. I sympathize with beasts of burden, during my more self-pitying moments. Draught horse, oxen, some sort of poor riding elephant. Really though, I live my life more like a medium-energy black bear, or a groveling porcupine.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Felice: Whether listening or creating, nothing else resonates with my brain quite like the right piece of music at the right moment. Music has a penetrating quality, an ability to gracefully drift through the seemingly endless strata of thoughts, doubts, fears, distractions, and, well, it tickles my brain just right.
B&L: Was there a moment or experience that led you to try your hand at making this your life? What keeps you inspired to keep going?
Felice: There was no single moment when we started the band. There was nothing else to do but play music… no other prospects. I never went to college. I have no other skills, really. I keep going because every day I feel a little bit closer to the music, and it brings me a great measure of joy to practice and perform it.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show? What do you look or hope for as you step foot on that stage?
Felice: A great show is easy for the band and for the audience. That’s what I hope for: something as easy and natural as friends sitting around a campfire, trading stories and having laughs.
B&L: You’ve been to New Hampshire a couple of times now (for shows at the Music Hall, Press Room, and Casino Ballroom…). What do you enjoy about visiting us here in the Granite State?
Felice: There is something invigorating about New Hampshire. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m sure it has something to do with your history and proximity to the sea. The air smells better and the people are all so damn beautiful.
B&L: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming record. What’s it all about? What’s it called? When does it drop? How does it build on the existing catalogue? How does it differ (if at all)?
Felice: It’s coming out in late spring. It’s called ‘Life in the Dark’. It’s a simple and awesome record. My brother’s songwriting is outrageously good, and this record is a showcase of that. True to form, we recorded it in a garage on a farm so it sounds… like that.
B&L: If we could play off the last record for a second, who, in fact, is your favorite waitress? Where does she slang the goods?
Felice: That’s a sacred secret.
B&L: Of course… Okay, what’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Felice: I have been listening to Randy Newman’s “A Wedding in Cherokee Country,” which is on “Good Old Boys.” What an incredible song. No one combines such uniquely American heart-wrenching sadness with moments that can literally make you laugh out loud. It’s beautiful, totally absurd and silly, touching and sly at the same time. It’s less than three-minutes long, and it feels like you experienced an entire novels worth of world building and characterization. God, I wish I wrote that song.
B&L: How many guitars and/or accordions have been harmed in the making of Felice Brothers music?
Felice: The numbers are tragically high. Ian’s guitars generally go down in a moment of shocking violence. My accordions are exhausted to death, or worse, victims of serious neglect. For the record, our instrument survivability has gone up significantly in the last few years.
B&L: What are the pros of working with family members in the band? What are the cons?
Felice: Being in a band is like being married to four other adult men. In this case it’s also like being married to your own brother, which is weird and illegal (maybe not in NH). That doesn’t answer your question (laughs).
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you lads perform 3S Artspace this Friday?
Felice: Expect to leave with a smile on your face. Also, expect to have a beer or two. To clap, laugh, and sing along. Also, if you’re in the front row, expect to have a giant, bearded accordion player spray sweat all over you.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Felice: I really want to see that musical Hamilton. So, a dozen tickets to Hamilton, please. For my friends and me.
The Felice Brothers will take the stage at 3S Artspace on Friday, March 25th. For tickets and more information, click here.