“We do like a bit of that alt-country stuff, as long as it’s not sticky,” says Ben Felker, guitarist for The Fervor in an interview with the Xpress.
“Sticky” is an apt description of what alt-country has turned into. What once was a genre based on a return to rock’s roots has now turned into a marketing term for any singer/songwriter trying to approximate Woody Guthrie jamming with Duane Allman.
Based in Louisville, Ky, the Fervor is decidedly not an alt-country band. Sure, there’s a twang that pops up in lead singer/keyboardist Natalie Felker’s vocals every once in a while, but don’t mistake that for No Depression-aimed posturing. The Fervor is real, honest and capable of writing a chorus that will melt the coldest of hearts.
“We’re a pop band trying to make it on the indie circuit,” explains Felker. “We’re certainly not Sonic Youth avant guarde, and our approach is definitely to try to keep it real and honest.”
The band (which also features drummer Mat Herron and bassist Michael Campbell) are products of the fertile Louisville music scene, which in recent years has spawned notable acts such as My Morning Jacket, Rachel’s and VHS or Beta.
“It’s a real tight-knit group of people who are all really amazing,” notes Felker. “People go out and people are into watching each others bands, it’s nice when you can genuinely into your friend’s bands.”
The same camaraderie exists within the Fervor. Each song is carefully put together, and the band is careful not to step on each other’s toes. Natalie Felker’s simple and unassuming vocals, backed by catchy melodies, are placed in dead center. But don’t refer to The Fervor as a vanity project for the lead singer.
“[Being treated as a backing group] does happen to some degree,” says Felker. “It started with Natalie, the songs she was writing, and over the last few years it’s turned into a band project. Now it’s a band project, and it irks her more than us when we get that perception.”
But if the band aren’t alt-country, and aren’t just a vanity project for the lead singer’s musical whims, then what exactly are they?
“I think we are just really trying to play standard rock music in a way,” Felker says. “The challenge is to try to still bring something original to that medium that has been done so many times and so many different ways.”
The Fervor perform Saturday, October 20 at the Root Bar.
— Jason Bugg is a freelance writer based in Asheville, N.C.