Music Q&A: Chris Davies
This week, Paul Wood chats with Chris Davies, 24, of Savoy. He plays guitar and sings in Finer Feelings. The other member is Patrick Lyke (drums, vocals), 25, of Champaign. They just released "Gemutlichkeit," which can be purchased at finerfeelings.bandcamp.com. They play June 21 at Mike n Molly's, 105 N. Market St., C.
How do you get such a full sound from two musicians?
I think a lot of the credit for that goes to Pat, because he's not interested in just giving an easy high hat-snare-kick beat. He puts so much effort into the rhythms of our songs in order to make sure there are a lot of interesting sounds coming from his drum kit. I also use some open tunings and try to focus a lot on my picking to give the guitar a lot of bass and treble, but I really don't think our sound would be what it is without the drums. Often, when I write a guitar part, I'll have a simple 4/4 beat in mind and then Pat will play something completely different to go with it that makes me completely forget what I originally had in mind and instead fall in love with what he's come up with.
Does one of you write or both?
We write some collaboratively and both of us write individually as well, but Pat's just recently started contributing more material. Often I'll pick out a riff or chord progression I like and we'll flesh it out and come up with lyrics on our own. Sometimes it's just me that thinks it up, or vice versa. The song "This Time" on our album is the only one Pat wrote by himself for that album, but it's fantastic and he does a great job singing so I'm happy when he comes to practice with more of his own stuff for us to work on.
How did you arrive at the title of your new record?
The title was secondary to the cover image, actually. I found that image scrolling through the Library of Congress's Flickr page and fell in love with it. It's titled "Kreisler's Hands," but little information was available beyond that, so I did some research and found out it was a picture of Fritz Kreisler, who is considered one of the finest violinists of all time. He was associated with the gemutlichkeit movement, which, not being a German speaker, led me to look up that word. It translates roughly to a "cozy feeling." Cozy feeling, Finer Feelings, it just seemed right.
Do you think the Champaign music scene is strong at this time?
Absolutely, and that strength is from its diversity. In C-U right now you can go to a show nearly every night of the week and you can see a different kind of music. There's great alt-country and bluegrass (The Fights, Neoga Blacksmith), hip hop (The Gr8Thinkaz), indie rock (Elsinore, Common Loon), pop (Emily Otnes, Megan Johns), and, though I'm not really into metal and hardcore, Error Records is constantly putting together shows with locals and touring bands that are very well received. I was born here and then went to Normal for school, but I came back because the arts in Champaign are just so much more vibrant and exciting than any other place this size.
What are you excited about right now?
Personally, I know we're both really excited about our album. We put in a couple of years writing and fleshing out the songs and then recorded them over four months with Sven at the Blue Box Studio in Sadorus. We tracked guitars and drums live and then overdubbed extra guitars, bass and other interesting sounds to fill in the sound. We were able to experiment and play around some and come up with a finished product that we're extremely proud of.
Tell me about your next performance.
Our next gig is June 21 at Mike n Molly's for the Opus Dog record release show. After that, we're playing at the Canopy Club on July 11 with a band from Bloomington called Alex and the XOs.
How did you first grow interested in music? Does your family have a musical history?
My grandmother tried to teach me piano when I was in grade school, but I was much more interested in sports. After she passed away, I started to get more interested in music and originally started playing electric bass before switching to six-string guitar after a year or so. I've been playing now for more than 12 years and in that time I've tried to follow in my grandma's footsteps in a way by picking up more instruments and learning to play them (to varying degrees of success).
Which bands did you like when you were a teenager? Which bands now? Who has influenced you the most?
In high school, I was into fairly typical things for someone my age with a disdain for Top 40 — Weezer, The Get Up Kids, etc. — as well as some classic rock, pop and punk. These days I'd say the bands that I like most and influence my writing are Wilco, Ryan Adams, Spoon, Dawes and The National.
How did your band get started? Where does the name come from?
Pat and I had briefly played together while we were in college, but our schedules never worked out and that band did very little. After graduation, when I moved back to Champaign, I had some songs worked up and I knew he would be able to add flavor to them that would make them better so we began Finer Feelings. We chose our name based on a song by Spoon that we both really enjoy. Naming things is probably the most difficult thing we do, so when we found something we were both OK with we stopped questioning it.
What's your favorite song by your own band?
Right now I'm partial to "Shark's Eyes" from "Gemutlichkeit." It's probably the darkest song we've written tonally, but it's the most fun to play because I get to loop in some guitar sounds and solo over them and Pat just wails on the drums. Lyrically, it's based on an early 20th-century British short story.