by Nate Abernethy
Photo by Ashley Bradley
“Oh something else I’m looking forward to this year! Sleater-Kinney! They’re playing a show in April!” Perhaps the most outwardly excited Feral Future’s lead singer Relle becomes in our entire interview is the moment she fangirls out over the prospect of seeing the Olympia band live. Prophetically, on Friday night she not only was surely amidst the crowd, but immediately afterwards took the inside stage herself at Stubb’s, rightfully placing Feral Future alongside Relle’s heroes. 2014 was a big year in Austin music. Truthfully that could be said every year, but there were a few bands I felt really hit their stride this past year. For me Feral Future’s Haematic was a standout effort claiming multiple top spots on our year end list of the best Austin albums of 2014 and best Austin songs of 2014. I sat down with Relle and her bandmates Kate Moyer and Stephanie Mueller as we looked back on a breakout year with their favorite moments on and off stage, and turned forward to discuss their growth into 2015.
Nate Abernethy for Ovrld: Looking back on 2014, to me it was the year of Feral Future. You nearly swept all my picks for the best of list, your tour seemed to go phenomenally and you put out a truly powerful and unique album. What were some of your favorite moments whether they be personal or professional, onstage or off?
Relle Sonnenschein: I think my favorite moment of this past year was when we played in Rochester, NY with Utah Jazz, Green Dreams and Perfect Pussy and it was such an amazing show. It was mostly women and queers and very cool dudes, like all the dudes that were at that show were super respectful and awesome. It was girls in the front all night, it was an all girl mosh pit. Everybody cried at some point! It was really empowering. Oh and there were these teenage girls that brought cake that had our names all over it…
Kate Moyer: I thought it had Perfect Pussy on it [laughs]
Relle: Well we were on the side [laughs]. Of course Perfect Pussy was on the top. Regardless it was just really awesome. I definitely cried.
Ovrld: I feel like that whole east coast scene has drifted into something very community oriented, particularly New York.
Relle: I feel like a lot of our friends that we identify with musically or politically are situated on the east coast now. Not all of them, but a lot of them.
Ovrld: I went to a Halloween show there I think at Shea Stadium and one of the performers went up, stripped off his clothes and proposed to his girlfriend on stage. It was beautiful and bizarre and just a very genuine atmosphere of everyone there being friends.
Relle: Yeah, I think that’s what made this year really cool was we got to play with our friends. A lot and all over. Not only that but we made all kinds of friends. We became friends with this band Weed from Vancouver, The Courtneys and Thelma and The Sleaze from Nashville we became really close this year. Its been really cool getting to know people who are making really cool music.
Stephanie Mueller: Yeah I think that might be part of my favorite things of 2014. Just by the amount of traveling that we’ve done: being able to see our friends, meet new people and make these connections that extend across the country. I think the community of a lot of the bands we’ve been playing with it really is expanding the US and repeating up in different places, and we’re just sharing all of the same kinds of ideas and beliefs.
Relle: Or like when Priests was here we just got along really really well, and then we went up there and visited. These conversations we were having about gender in music or politics and our political ideas? Those conversations would get left off, and we would continue them a little bit via different kinds of media like tumblr or texting or instagram or whatever. Then we’d meet back up and have that much more respect for them when playing and really know them in detail.
Ovrld: It wasn’t just a one off show with someone.
Relle: No totally! It was like “Oh wow, I’m making this connection with you and I’m getting to play with you! We’re getting to do this cool thing together.”
Ovrld: What about offstage, being surrounded by this community of music? Any shows you saw that just blew your mind?
Kate: Des Ark was pretty cool for me
Stephanie: Oh yeah we played with Des Ark, it was like a house show.
Kate: In 2007 I saw Des Ark play, I’m from upstate New York and I saw Des Ark play in Washington D.C. I was like a little troublemaker or whatever and it was a bunch of bands and Des Ark comes in and she has a stool and like this little toy guitar, I’m like “Oh great, oh my god this is gonna suck!” She sits down and its just her and the guitar… It literally was just mind blowingly awesome. Flash forward to 7 years later and we got to play with her, but it was cool for me it was kind of full circle. Seeing someone who I thought was super impressive and then getting to play alongside them.
Relle: I feel like almost every show that I’ve been excited to go see, we actually got to play.
Ovrld: That’s the dream year.
Relle: Yeah it’s kind of the dream.
Ovrld: Did you get much studio time this year?
Stephanie: Well we finished Haematic.. this year? [Laughs] It’s a blur.
Relle: You know, I feel like we grew. We had a lot of growing pains this year and that isn’t bad; its just challenging. We did a lot of growing this year as far the way we write and the stuff that we’re writing about and how we want to put it together. It was growing pains in a kind of way that was awesome and beautiful and painful.
Ovrld: I felt like this last album WAS Feral Future. It was definitive in a way.
Relle: Yeah I think we definitely started to have a voice and not only that but I think tonally we were starting to fall into place too where like “Oh, this is what Kate Moyer’s guitar tones should sound like,” you know what I mean?
Ovrld: Individually the pieces falling together.
Relle: Yeah! Or “this is the kind of bass tone Stephanie Mueller is trying to cultivate, this is what her playing is going to sound like.” And I mean it will change as we change and we grow as artists but I think in those ways its been really awesome experience this year.
Kate: And way more so than the EP. Way more so.
Relle: Oh yeah!
Kate: I mean the EP is wonderful because its one of the first things we did together.
Stephanie: It was our first stab at something.
Ovrld: You were still figuring out what Feral Future was exactly.
Kate: With the LP it is: now we know what we’re doing, or what we want to do rather, with each other.
Relle: I think we trust each other a lot more too.
Ovrld: It’s like you said too, you’re always growing. It’s funny how many bands put out an EP or something then two months later playing shows like, “We don’t even sound like that anymore!”
Relle: Oh, no, that’s so real.
Stephanie: To be fair, in the EP’s defense we were only a band for a month.
Ovrld: Yeah, it was really fresh, wasn’t it?
Relle: Yeah, it’s kind of crazy when I look back on it.
Kate: I mean I listened to it the other day, and I’m still in love with it. There’s a lot of the first self titled rawness but it will always be one of my favorite albums.
Ovrld: What about for 2015, what are you excited for?
Stephanie: I’m excited to tour more.
Stephanie: To write more.
Relle: We’re putting songs together for our second full length that’s going to be coming in a year probably. Umm tentatively in the next year.
Ovrld: Right, you never know how it goes.
Relle: Right, and we’re still finishing up writing some of that stuff.
Stephanie: I’m excited to make more connections with people. Something that I think Austin is really lacking is a DIY scene. A DIY venue. The house shows. There just aren’t any, and I think we need to create a more safe space for people.
Ovrld: Yeah, the few places like Ghost Cat Lounge, The Lakehaus and others that are making an effort, there are understandable limitations. I think it tends to make people feel more like it’s the same buddies playing together than a full fledged community.
Stephanie: I’m excited for trying to do more of that, making a safe place for everyone!
Ovrld: Take this community you’ve met on the road and cultivate it here.
Stephanie: Yes, exactly.
Relle: Totally, I want bands to know “We want to come to Austin, there’s cool shit welcoming us there!”
Ovrld: There’s a home for you here.
Relle: Yeah we’re here every day, if you’re only here for twelve hours we want to to make it kickass.
Stephanie: We’ll take you to the greenbelt, we just want to be your friend [laughs]
Feral Future will be touring the West Coast in July. In the meantime, be sure to check out their debut album Haematic, available now from Western Medical Records.