Band of the Week: The Features

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Hometown: Sparta, Tenn.
Album: Some Kind of Salvation
Band Members: Mark Bond (keyboardist), Roger Dabbs (bass), Rollum Haas (drums), Matt Pelham (guitar, vocals),
For Fans Of: Franz Ferdinand, The Whigs, Kings of Leon

The Features hail from Middle Tennessee, but have more in common with their musical peers across the pond than with their country neighbors. “I grew up listening to mostly British music, to be honest. The Kinks, The Beatles, that type of stuff,” says guitarist Matt Pelham. “And Rollum, the drummer, learned to play drums [by listening to] Duran Duran, so I guess musically we kind of come from a more British background.” 

It's this blend of influences that give The Features their dynamic sound (caught somewhere between the pure rock ‘n’ roll of the British Invasion and the electronic, synth-happy beats that characterized 80’s pop), and it's that sound that has launched them to the top of Nashville's indie rock scene. A little help from Kings of Leon hasn't hurt, either. The Features' sophomore album, Some Kind of Salvation, was released in July on the Kings' imprint on label Bug Music. The two bands first met through The Features' soundman, who also worked some a Kings of Leon recording sessions. “He told them they should come see our show,” Pelham says. “So they did, and we ended up touring with them a lot for [our] first record.”

Pelham and Features bassist Roger Dabbs grew up down the street from each other in Sparta, about 100 miles south of Nashville, and played music together throughout middle and high school. The Features rolled through different lineups for almost a decade until Pelham and Dabbs found lasting bandmates in drummer Rollum Haas and keyboardist Mark Bond; the current members released the band's full-length debut, Exhibit A, in 2004, and have been together ever since. Now, on the heels of their second LP, the band has honed its sound into a focused, energetic display of tight drum riffs and clean guitar licks with a settled but still edgy tone. “I enjoy this album more than Exhibit A,” Pelham says. “I think it sounds more like the band, and less in-your-face.”

The band's summer-long tour in support of Salvation continues with a few dates supporting Kings of Leon in September, plus a tour with The Whigs in the works for the fall. The Features shine on record, but their live show is the main attraction. “I’ve gotten from a lot of people that they don’t really ‘get’ the band until they see us live, as much. I think it all makes sense once someone sees the live show,” Pelham says. “And that’s what we enjoy the most. I mean, we enjoy writing, and playing live, so I think it comes across. We enjoy it, period, otherwise we wouldn’t have been doing this for, like, fifteen years.”

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