This is a preview of our feature on FEELS in upcoming issue 14.
Downtown Rehearsal, the iconic band practice space near the 6th Street bridge in downtown Los Angeles, looms like a communist industrial warehouse in the bright afternoon light. And for a hot minute, I almost have an East Berlin flashback, until I spot FEELS ‑ stylized in caps for emphasis and attitude ‑ spilling out into the parking lot, their bright colors poking out against the soft blue sky. Laena Geronimo, Shannon Lay, Amy Allen, and Michael Perry Rudes have been shredding as a single force field since 2015, when they were the new band about town playing every show, every night of the week, every chance they got. Laena and Shannon, doing tag team on guitar and vocals, alternate a heavy, anthem-style, riot grrrl caliber of rock, with Amy and Michael keeping the rhythm steady and fast, unbelievably fast, on bass and drums respectively. I remember seeing them play for the first time, overcome with awe at their ability to match intimate lyrics so full of longing and emotion with pure, unadulterated rock, the definition of which is beyond description.
Tell me about your new album?
LG: We recorded it up in Grass Valley with Tim Green, who’s amazing. We spent eight days up there, recorded it all, did some mixing.
Does he have a studio? Or was it at his house?
LG: He has some property – he has a house, and the recording studio is a separate building – but his house has a bottom floor that’s like a fully furnished living situation, and bands get to stay down there.
Grass Valley’s in Northern California, right?
LG: Yeah. Just like manzanita groves everywhere.
AA: You should definitely look up Louder Studios. He’s got a huge catalogue of bands that he’s recorded, bands and records that I grew up listening to and really love, so it was an amazing, special thing to record with him.
How did you guys link up with him?
SL: Ty [Segall] recommended him.
LG: Wand just recorded with him.
SL: We didn’t know who to go with, and Ty was like, “You should check this guy out.” I ended up messaging him, and he was obsessed with the Simpsons, and I was like, “We should do this guys!” [Shannon loves The Simpsons, FYI.]It was a sign!
SL: I knew it was gonna be great, and it was! It was fucking great.
LG: I found out he was in Nation of Ulysses back in the day and he recorded Bikini Kill and all this stuff, and I was like, “Alright. Let’s definitely do this.”
Was it just him, with you guys?
LG: Yeah. We didn’t have any producer thing going on. I mean there’s four of us.
AA: We have our checks and balances.
LG: We got ideas.
SL: It was a nice experience. We really took our time and put in some nice details. It was cool.
Did you guys have most of the songs going into it?
LG: Yeah. We left a bit of room to be able to experiment with stuff, because we knew we had a little bit of time.
AA: Yeah, there’s a cheese grater on one song.
LG: And some bracelets I had on.What’s the style? Is it similar to the debut?
SL: It’s very different.
SL: We slowed down. We took our time. We really put some good communal energy into these songs, and you can really feel all of us.
Did you guys write most of the songs together?
AA: Yeah, definitely.
SL: And even if someone brought in a song, the things that everyone did to it, made it a very collective effort.
LG: On the first record, we really just wanted it to sound like how we sounded live. And on this one, we kind of allowed for space to try different things and just add—like the end of one of the songs has an organ in it. We’ll never do that live.
TONY ACCOSTA: I like having an album offer things that you can’t offer live.
LG: And vice versa.
SL: It makes it a different experience.
TA: That’s the reason you buy the album.
SL: Considering putting an album together, it’s gonna exist forever, like you might as well.
LG: Right, and that’s also the reason to go see a band play live too, because you want it to be different than the album.
LG: The one time I went to a show and it sounded exactly like the album, I was so bummed. I was like, this is boring. I could just sit at home and listen to this. But, it was Tool. And I was 16.
For more from FEELS follow them on Instagram: @feelstheband.
Photography by Tony Accosta.