Whiskey, Love, & Death: The Making of Foxfeather's New Self-Titled Album

By: Zach Dahmen

At a time when most local acts are releasing four song EPs, Foxfeather’s new project is bucking the trend. The Boulder-based band dropped their first full length album this month, a self-titled 11-song release. Formed in 2013, the five-piece outfit consists of Carly Ricks Smith (lead vocals), Laura Stratton (guitars/keys/vocals), Patrick Coleman (upright/electric bass/violin), Ben Batchelor (drums/percussion), and Ian Hendrick (electric guitar). This Friday, October 21st is Foxfeather’s Denver CD Release Show at The Walnut Room with Doves and Wolves. Before they hit the stage, we wanted to chat with them about their songwriting style, their new album, and whiskey. Here’s our sit down with Foxfeather:

How did Foxfeather come together?

Laura: Carly and I first started working together to hone our songwriting skills. We were writing and just having fun with it. There came a point when we needed to have more to these songs than just vocals and guitar, which led us to the next stage: forming the band.

Patrick: It was last summer on tour when the five of us officially cemented the lineup.

Carly: And this really feels like the beginning, right now, with this album.

How do you feel like you’ve changed from your first EP to your new album?

Patrick: Our instrumentation has changed in a direct way. We no longer employ mandolin and fiddle. Also Ben is a jazz drummer, and that for me has changed the feel of the band immensely.

Carly: With our first EP, Laura and I really struggled with our identity, and it was difficult to let go of the idea that we were a folk duo. It took making that EP, playing, and touring with this band to make us realize that this is what we wanted. That’s why we self-titled the album; it’s all five of us playing this record.

Foxfeather. Photo Credit: Kirsten Cohen

Foxfeather. Photo Credit: Kirsten Cohen

Talk to us about your recording process.

Laura: Jay Elliot was our sound engineer [on this album]. We recorded in his home studio last April for nine days. And our producer was Jagoda, who was such an integral part of the entire process. Everyone was there for the whole process.

Ben: It would have felt like we were missing a family member on Thanksgiving had we not all been there for the whole process. Jay mixed and was the conduit, and he was really able to see the tone of it and get a sense of who we are. The songs transformed in those moments.

Carly: The studio changed the way we played these songs live too. We were really trying to be as open as possible during this process.

Ian: As the lead guitarist, I found there to be a lot of pressure; there’s this responsibility, but Jay, Jagoda, and the studio made me feel confident to produce something we are all proud of. It was an authentic experience that was really special.    

Listen to Foxfeather's new self-titled album:

What do you think makes a good song and how do you incorporate that into your writing?

Patrick: Whiskey, love, and death. Those were our themes for this album.

Carly: Laura and I write these songs; it’s a process to find a story that fits. Trying to find that word that gives that exact feeling; starting with just an idea and creating a story around it. Laura and I feed off of each other in that. That base and foundation is what allows us to make these songs.

Ian: For me, a good song is not about geeking out about guitars, it’s the lyrical content and feel. Does the song make you feel something?

Ben: Yeah I think a good song evokes a response from people; that’s the end goal. To connect.

Tickets here! Photo Credit: Kirsten Cohen

Tickets here! Photo Credit: Kirsten Cohen

What song surprised you most while recording?

Everyone: “Day for Lovers.” (simultaneously)

Laura: We had 16 songs that we brought to the studio. We had a lot of them we weren’t sure would make it. But “Day for Lovers” was a surprise.

Carly: “Day for Lovers” is one of our oldest songs. It changed a lot. We took it and cut some verses and rearranged it to make it its own thing. Afterward, we were like ‘Holy shit. What did we just do?’ I called my mom and told her I just made some baby-making music. It’s become one our favorites.

What are your favorite places to play?

Everyone: Gold Hill Inn; it’s a special place.

Carly: Also Taco Del Gnar is a place we’ve been more than six times. They gave us the opportunity to start touring southern Colorado.

Laura: It’s a home away from home for us.

ON THE ROAD.

ON THE ROAD.

If you could play a show with any band, who would it be?

Everyone: Lake Street Dive. For sure.

What song do you wish you wrote?

Laura: “Pony” by Kasey Chambers, which we cover.

Patrick: Or Dawes’ new song.

So what’s up next for Foxfeather?

Carly: Promoting the CD, planning some small tours, and playing more festivals.

Laura: And continuing the creative process. It’s cool to think about where we can go and to not be stuck in a box.

Catch Foxfeather this Friday at The Walnut Room in Denver. Tickets here! And make sure to give their self-titled album a listen for yourself above.

-Zach

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.