In recent months, new Colorado pop rock band The Fast Feeling, featuring members of Five Iron Frenzy and Eleventyseven, started a crowdfunding campaign and raised enough money for their first full length album. Lead vocalist Leanor Till took some time out to talk to JFH's Scott Fryberger about the band and their upcoming music...
Leanor Till: Well, Five Iron Frenzy got back together in 2011, and we made an album, and we were playing monthly shows, but the dynamics had changed because three of the members of Five Iron don't live in Colorado anymore. So, the five of us who do live in Colorado, we practiced quite often. The five that live here still are Scott [Kerr] on bass, me, Brad [Dunham] who plays trumpet, Micah [Ortega] who plays guitar, and Andy [Verdecchio] who plays drums. So we practiced quite a bit, and we had joked about how it would be fun to make a band out of just the five of us because we get to see each other so much. And Scott had been writing a lot of new material for Five Iron for the next album, and we hadn't really worked on them much as a group, but one day I opened my computer and started listening to some of the rough demos of these songs, which were just guitar parts. I started getting really inspired, so I started using my voice memo on my phone and singing what were just fluffy, silly lyrics but pretty strong melodies. And the idea was to work on them for Reese [Roper] and see if he likes any of these melody ideas, or if Scott does, so they can be on the next album or at least get the process going.
So I was really into it one day and I kept sending these memos to Scott, and he immediately started texting back saying they were really good! And by the end of the week, he was so excited about them and asked if I could go over and record them with my vocals. And the funny part is that I'm not a singer. I've tried to be, I've wanted to be, but I don't have golden pipes as they say! *laughter* But I love singing, and Scott set me up to record over some of his tracks, and we were both really surprised, like "Wow, this sounds really good!" And we just kept working on it for the next month, and we showed them to Andy, and he said he's really be into playing on it. So that's how the three of us started writing songs together.
Leanor: That's also something that kinda happened... So this guy Matt, who I had never met before, was visiting town and visiting with Scott, and they were working on Pool Party Death Machine with Reese, and Scott showed some of the Fast Feeling songs to Matt, and Matt said he wanted to be in the band. At first, I said no, because it's really hard to be in a band with someone who doesn't live in the same town, and that was the whole reason that we made this band, to solve the problem of long distance. But after meeting Matt and getting to know him and seeing how well he and Scott write together and how disciplined they are about sending things back and forth, we decided to add Matt to the band. I'm not sure where Pool Party is, but I think it's also been shelved because people are so busy. But I know Scott and Matt were super excited to keep writing songs together. And they kept quickly writing more and more songs for me to put melodies on, and Scott wrote some of the melodies, and Matt wrote some. And even Andy started writing some stuff, and at the end, we were all writing melodies and lyrics. We were having lyric-writing sessions, and I've never experienced that much collaboration in a band. You can't take apart a song without saying that everybody has been involved. I'm singing parts that Andy wrote, that Matt wrote, that Scott wrote, and they're playing parts that I wrote. I even wrote guitar parts. We all wrote all kinds of things for the songs.
Leanor: It's been interesting, because with technology, you can write a whole song with fake drums, and then we have to decide if we want to have Andy play on the song, or if we want to have fake drums. One of the main dilemmas in the beginning was - well, we have a song called "Factions," which we did a lyric video for, and it only has electronic drums. We kept just the electronic drums on it and a couple other songs, and Andy is super cool about it. We have a saying in Five Iron, and also now for The Fast Feeling, which is "Whatever's best for the song." And what that means is that you don't get your feelings hurt if you don't get your way. And often, being in a band, you don't get your way. And there's a lot of parts that I've written where I didn't get my way, and I can't just have a little fit and say I have veto power and I want this part. Everybody collaborates and we try to make the best songs. And as far as stylistically, that's been kind of interesting, too. Through the progression of this album, we've gone back and tweaked and changed a lot of songs because we wanted to have a cohesive sound, but in the beginning, you don't really know what your sound is. So it's kinda becoming - it's like a cross between 90s and new wave. I don't really know, exactly where we fall. *laughter* But I also think it has elements of modern music, too. It's all over the place, but I think it's overall pretty cohesive, and I think the cohesive piece to it is my voice. Even if you get a very modern song or a very rocky song with guitar solos and drums, my voice is kinda consistent through the whole album.
Leanor: I am, actually, and it's interesting, because Scott has a great voice, too. He sang in Yellow Second. He's a great singer, and he's all over this vocally, as a background singer and singing together with me. But I've asked him several times, "Do you wanna be lead?" And he's the one that strongly feels that I should be the lead. *laughter* So, that's fine, he's pushing me to grow. It's a big challenge, but I'm up for it. Some of the songs I've had to re-record, but I'm really proud and pumped, and also quite surprised at what my voice can do. I found out that my voice has a crazy range; I can sing very, very low for a female and also very high like a soprano. So I can double myself up in a lot of parts, one octave higher or lower.
Leanor: No, definitely not. All of us write lyrics, and that is the most difficult and tedious process. It can take half a day to get a song's lyrics written, because we all sit in the same room and mull on it and think about it, and we want it to fit. It would be a lot easier if I was to be trusted to just grab a pen and paper and just them, but I don't think it would be as good. I think one of the reasons we want to be in a band, especially in our 40s now, is to have a voice. And by that I mean to get your say out there and to make a point. These songs aren't as strong of lyrical opinion songs like what Five Iron writes, but they still have a point and a place. Andy may feel strongly about something, and I would love to say what he wants me to say. And Scott may say something else in a different verse. And so, for that reason, we all work together and have to agree on all the lyrics.
Leanor: There's a lot about growing up and coming-of-age, and and realizing that, when you were growing up, you thought everything was perfect and you lived in a little bubble, but now that you're an adult or faced with different realities, you have to burst your own bubble and come to grips with reality. Then there are themes of hope, themes of fun, like some nightlife and getting out and having a good time, there's a political song that talks about the systems that be and the undercurrent of deceit in the political system that we live under. One of the main themes, I would say, is a lack of satisfaction. We're not satisfied with the status quo of life, and we're shaking things up. And there's one song that I like a lot, and it talks about the eternal joy that we're going to experience someday.
Leanor: That song was lyrically written by Matt. (Scott: Oh!) Yeah, in fact, he wrote the whole song. He sang it and then sent it to me, and then I tried and tried to sing it in the style that he did. He had, I guess a more hyper way, and he pushed his vocal range more, and I tried and tried and couldn't do it. So I did a more subdued take and it actually worked. But yeah, those are his lyrics, and everyone is really surprising me. They're amazing lyricists, and I love that we all have this in common, and that we can work together as people from so many different backgrounds.
Leanor: Yeah, that was the goal. And the one thing we got to do extra because of the overfunding was getting to order vinyl. That was always kind of a hope, but toward the end, we did not think we were gonna hit our goal on Indiegogo. But when it started to happen, we were excited and said "If we're gonna do it, let's do it now." So, with less than 24 hours left, we added the vinyl perk and sold up to 30 of those. But the cool thing is that we can order more of those, and we're gonna have a webstore after the fact, so that people can still buy the merchandise if they weren't able to pledge.
Leanor: Really close! I think I have two more songs to record vocals on, and now everyone is just mixing and mastering. As far as the songs go, we wrote above and beyond the amount of songs for a full-length album, so I don't know what we'll do with the rest of the material. One other interesting thing about this material is that sometimes we'll take a song and make it a rocker and then totally change it and do a different style. So some of the songs have two different versions and styles, so we need to decide which version we want to be on the album. There's definitely more than enough material for a b-side release or an EP down the road.
Leanor: Scott and Matt are mixing it, but I don't really know...they had someone else helping, too. *laughter*
Leanor: Yeah, that was fun! Aaron Clements. He's been a longtime Five Iron fan and he came out and spent two days with us, and not only did we get to add him to our album, playing guitars and doing some background vocals, but he had a silly song that he had writing, and he asked if we'd help him finish it up. So we did! We took that time to help him write a silly song and I think it was really fun for him!
Leanor: Yeah! We went above and beyond for him.
Leanor: He does background vocals on a couple songs and some guitar lead.
Leanor: Yeah, I think we are. That's been pretty successful for us with Five Iron. One thing we enjoyed with Five Iron is having control over where our songs go. The ease nowadays of having your own online webstore and shipping things out and marketing yourselves - we like doing it. It's funny, because even with Five Iron, we had a manager briefly, but all of us really like to be involved. I like to be involved in ordering and designing merch and stickers and buttons, and Scott likes to be involved in the Spotify and Bandcamp aspects; we're kinda control freaks, and it feels weird to pay people to do things that we know how to do ourselves. *laughter* And, being in the scene for so long, you kinda get to know how to do things. One unfortunate part of this band that is not gonna come easy is going to be playing a live show. It's gonna take some effort to rework the songs for a live format. But we want to. What we'll probably do is wait until the album releases and then watch for the feedback, because there are so many songs and so many different styles. We're all curious to see what the main songs are that will really hit people and do well so that we can form a live set based on what people are interested in instead of based on no feedback and just what we want.
Leanor: Yeah! For sixteen years, I was a pastor at Scum of the Earth Church in Denver, Colorado. It's an amazing church and it's still around. But for the past year, I've felt that my giftings and my visions and my thoughts and ideas were all kinda toward seeking out people that don't go to church. So I recently left Scum of the Earth and joined an organization called Urban Skye based out of Denver. It's a Christian non-profit. Under some supervision and some really close accountability, I get to essentially create my own job. So I'm doing speaking at church events and for pastors while they're on sabbatical. I get to work with a multi-housing ministry, which provides church for people in this really large apartment complex. We do birthday parties and homework help for kids, and for the adults, we do bingo nights and have special holiday events. I'm also continuing to individually pastor a lot of men and women, and I'm really excited to see what else happens. I have so many ideas, from retreats to curriculum for family-based Bible studies. So I have a lot of ideas, and I'm just slowly starting to build momentum. I'm really excited to continue to use my voice and hopefully be a blessing for many years to come! As long as I can keep up with the other things I have going on.
Leanor: Urban Skye is a group that would collaborate with Scum of the Earth every Advent season. They're really big on creating curriculum and putting together books and different publications. So it just occurred to me that they are an umbrella organization for pretty much for-hire pastors, which is how I feel. I feel like an urban missionary, and I didn't want to start my own non-profit. People had encouraged me to try to go out on my own, but the thing I was looking for is a group endeavor, because I want a team and I want support, and I also want to learn from others and rely on others, but I also want it to be a Christian organization. And everything that I had hoped and prayed for was found in Urban Skye.
Leanor: Yes! We are going to start working on that soon. Everybody is creating their own songs and will be fine tuning their demos as best they can, and we're gonna keep working on it!
Leanor: I don't know yet. We're not that far into the process yet. We haven't even shared our songs with one another yet, so I'm not sure what will happen.
Leanor: Yeah, we still have it in us, we still wanna use our voice. But, like I said, it just takes us a lot longer. *laughter*
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