Feeling Like a Band
It’s raining in the Bloomington, Ind., church parking lot where the guys in Feel happen to be parked. When you’re living in a 27-foot RV you jump at any parking spot you can find.
“We’re taking turns driving,” says drummer Dave Shaffer, who along with singer/guitarist Scot Sax, bassist Mark Getten and lead guitarist Billy Hamilton is in Bloomington as part of their first cross-the-nation-to-spread-the-good-word spree. In the mid-’90s, Sax and Getten were part of Wanderlust, so they’re familiar with the routine, but as a foursome, Feel is new to this.
Sax and Getten go back about a decade to their days together in Philadelphia. Shaffer’s from Albuquerque and Hamilton grew up in Maryland. They formed Feel and recorded their self-titled rookie offering in their adopted home of Los Angeles. The album was finished last Christmas, and this past summer they hit radio with “Won’t Stand In Your Way,” an electric sing-along treat that strongly evokes images of the Gin Blossoms. Feel, which is stuffed with songs that also mesh the classic sounds of the Eagles and The Beatles with ’90s rockers like Collective Soul and The Rembrandts, is a stellar how-do-you-do from a band that actually never should have happened.
Wanderlust was just getting started back in 1995 when RCA decided to cut them loose. The experience was so negative that Sax broke up the band and signed with music publisher Warner/Chappell as a staff writer. The idea was to stay out of bands and write songs for other people to record (Sax wrote “Avenue of the Stars” on the new Jennifer Love Hewitt album). One of his songs, “I Am the Summertime,” got put on the soundtrack to the 1999 smash flick American Pie. When Universal released it as the first single, Sax quickly recruited Getten and Shaffer, named the group Bachelor Number One on a whim, and against his better judgment, found himself in a band again.
Then lightning struck again.
“[Universal] got tons of radio play the first week, then decided to not do anything,” grumbles Sax. “The second time getting burned confused things even more, so I went back to the songwriting thing.” Eventually, Sax, Getten and Shaffer began playing out as The Scot Sax Band and found Hamilton. “We met Billy almost two years ago,” says Shaffer. “He was the missing link for us.”
The Scot Sax Band released an indie album in 2001 and while touring the East Coast, the quartet began to gel. Specifically, it was a show in New York a few days after the September 11th attacks that galvanized Feel. “It was such an intense time for everybody,” Getten explains. “It was a time of bonding. We called it Feel after that.”