One of the best parts about running this site is getting to know the people that inspire it. One of the first San Diego bands I really fell for was Dead Feather Moon. The energy and authenticity of their live performances make it clear what spreads their fan base like wild-fire. The five members offer something electrifying with each show and if you haven’t had the chance (or even if you have) you should jump on tickets to their upcoming show next week: March 8th at Belly Up Tavern with The Howls and The Silent Comedy. It’s only $15 for three of San Diego’s finest local bands– do not miss this.
After running into Greg Peters of Dead Feather Moon (at a show for another of SD’s best, The Heavy Guilt) I tapped the very talented musician for an interview. Peters, who plays lap steel guitar and a number of other instruments, was kind enough to indulge me in between band practices, beer brewing, and generally being awesome.
After a couple of kick ass shows in January you guys haven’t played in over a month. What has the band been up to, besides depriving fans of Dead Feather Moon magic?
We have been locked away in our practice space working on new material and tightening up our existing songs. We have also planned a little mini-tour to Austin for South by Southwest, and lined up a good one at the Belly Up with our friends The Howls and The Silent Comedy. In December we recorded a single and a B-Side which we plan on releasing soon.
Where did the name Dead Feather Moon come from?
Jesse Kling and Justen Berge, the two founding members of the band, initially had it as a song title. With very little deliberation, the two decided this would be a great band name. Saying the name evokes images of Native American themes, dark, simple times, and raw emotion. It’s mysterious yet accessible at the same time, and we feel it accurately represents our sound.
The first EP and your newest record are decidedly different and, in fact, a lot of your tracks vary a great deal from one to the next. Is there a style you prefer to play live? What are you favorite songs to perform?
I think this question has a lot to do with our influences. Each member of the band owns a very diverse catalog of music. We listen to country, rock, metal, hip-hop, blues, and anything else we can get our hands on. We strive to write songs that are multidimensional and capture these influences with integrity and originality. We definitely enjoy playing high energy, hard-hitting sets, but always find time to slow it down and give the audience a taste of our slower, more delicate sound. And in all honesty, I enjoy every song we play equally.
What are some things you want people to know about DFM they wouldn’t get just seeing a performance or listening to your tunes?
I don’t think most people realize what it takes to be in a successful band. All of us work full-time, blue-collar type jobs. We practice four times a week, and spend countless hours outside of practice on the business aspect of the band. We are also a family. Justen’s fiancee regularly cooks meals for us during practice, and we have seen each other at our best, and our worst.
You have another music project, Shady Maples, is it difficult to juggle two bands? What is the same or different about playing in each of these groups?
My other band is based in Berkeley with my long time friend Owen Roberts. We have a very unique situation based on our distance but have recently recorded and released our first full length album, Unfold. It is definitely challenging, but both bands are very understanding and supportive. The dynamic is very different, and playing with Shady Maples allows me to explore different sounds and approaches to writing and performing that ultimately make me a more well-rounded musician.
I’ve always been a fan of pairing beer and music. We are regulars on the FM 94.9 Rock N’ Roll Happy Hour and do just that whenever we get the chance. I think “Dark Horse” definitely requires something heavy and mean, with a touch of bourbon for extra muscle. The Serpent’s Stout is a ten percent Imperial Stout partially fermented in Heaven Hill Whiskey barrels and does the trick quite nicely.
Any pairings for a Shady Maples tune?
Possibly my favorite track on the album is entitled “Salt Water”. This is a complex, dynamic tune with lots of space and a rocking bridge that drives the feeling home. I think Mongo IPA, a ridiculously hoppy double, with subtle notes of citrus and pine, captures the feeling well.
You’ve been proclaimed as “lap steel guitar wizard” – it’s an incredibly interesting instrument and adds a unique richness to the music. How did you start playing it? What other instruments do you play? And do you have any other magical powers?
After playing acoustic guitar for a year I joined a band and had to get creative based on my lack of experience. I started experimenting with open tunings, and eventually flipped my acoustic over on to my lap and started using a slide. I bought my first proper lap steel and a bunch of effects pedals and realized I could make all kinds of crazy sounds without actually playing anything fancy. I also play standard acoustic and electric guitars, organ, piano, and a little percussion here and there. No other magical powers that I have harnessed yet, but I am looking into this whole invisibility thing. I would just have to decide whether to use my powers for good or evil…
The current line-up for DFM has been the same for a couple of years now- how would you describe the relationship between the five of you?
We are a family. Our performance on stage is nothing but honest because of our close relationship off stage. I look at these guys as my brothers.
It’s really cool to see the camaraderie that seems to exist between up and coming San Diego bands. I met your drummer at a Nervous Wreckords show and you at The Heavy Guilt’s show. Who are some of the San Diego bands you are close with?
Transfer has always been a band we have respected and admired. Through the years we have developed a great professional and casual relationship with them and are thrilled with their success. We try our hardest to get out and support all of our local brothers and sisters our there that share the same passion for Rock n’ Roll that we do.
What’s next for you and the rest of the guys? Shows? Recordings? Brewings?
This summer we are hoping to hit the festival circuit as hard as we can. It doesn’t pay great, but we are all about paying our dues and doing things right. We don’t want to be an overnight success. We are in this for the long haul and just want to write and perform the best music possible. We are continually working on new material and hope to record a new album sometime this year. We recently brewed the “Dead Feather Moon Pale Ale” out at Lost Abbey and it’s making its way through the San Diego craft beer bars.
Last but not least, the Five S’s of Sounds in San Diego
Sound You Love: A well-played cello.
Sound You Hate: Auto Tune!!!!!!!!
Spot in San Diego You Have to See: Sunset at Swami’s.
San Diego Band You’re a Fan Of: Transfer.
Song That Makes You Smile: “When I was Young” by The Wood Brothers.
Keep up-to-date with all things Dead Feather Moon on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. And if you need further convincing to go to the show on March 8th: the three bands put together three incredible videos of acoustic versions of a song from each band, dubbed the Homestead Sessions. Check out “Revival” by The Howls, “Everything I Haven’t Said” by Dead Feather Moon and (a new tune) “Ghosts in This House” by The Silent Comedy.