Mr. Feelgood and the Firm Believers: Making their mark
article by Caitlin Cohen
photo by Dryland Productions
It’s been quite the ride during the making of Mr. Feelgood and the Firm Believers’ new album Slippery Slope. The journey had a few hurdles to jump through but results were well worth it. The band may have their first studio produced album but also gained so much more.
Major Sturm (guitar and vocals), Reid Immel (drums and percussion), Nick Taylor (8 string guitar), Carrie Bieber (vocals), Tyler Rogers (tenor sax), and Daniel Lombard (trumpet) have grown as a band through how much they have taken away from making Slippery Slope. Working with producer Bill Simpkins, the group learned the value of quality over quantity. Through Bill’s criticism they were able to determine what parts of their songs would help get their point across and what wasn’t needed.
“Bill was able to give us that perspective of how our songs would sound to other people. He hadn’t heard the material before this project which gave him an advantage to be critical,” Reid said. “He challenged us by asking questions such as ‘Do you really need this bridge here?’ That helped us trim the fat on our music.”
Production not only provided revision skills but also mastering vocal delivery. Mr. Feelgood’s music is very optimistic and strives to influence living well, overcoming challenges, and providing sense of purpose. When creating such a positive and hopeful message, authenticity is vital.
When singing the same song repeatedly, sometimes multiple times in a row during recording, the initial feeling influencing the lyrics may not be as powerful as when the song was first written. Major learned how to successfully push pass that challenge.
“When you’re recording, it’s important to not only capture what’s in your head but as you write it and believe it yourself, you need to make it believable to others. You have to be in character,” Major said. “In the studio, Bill would tell me to think about what I was thinking when I wrote the song and to also think about how I felt in order to get in that mindset. When you find that, you can hear it in your voice—and you establish authenticity that can be overlooked or uncaptured.”
The band has also become able to problem solve when life doesn’t go according to plan. Mr. Feelgood originally planned to finish recording their album after a couple of months. However, a few wrenches were thrown their way when Carrie and Major experienced injuries that impacted their ability to sing. Carrie broke her neck in a car accident. Major bruised his vocal chords while performing a show the winter before recording.
Balancing waiting for doctor approvals to sing, handling other factors from the car accident, and trying to perfect the material they already had, the album deadline continued pushing back. Through being patient with recovery and taking more time to perfect each individual song, they gained a huge appreciation for the prolonged production process. This experience provided a fresh approach for the way they make music; it became more beneficial to take the time to make the album feel finished than to release it as quickly as possible.
With how much each member experienced during recording and producing, they are feeling very confident and thrilled with the finished product. They believe that this album truly represents their growth. They hope that listeners will hear those changes, have their days brightened, and that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
“This album is everything that is our foundation – all the songs have been tested tried and true over time. Every corner will touch on who we are and what our musical intention is,” Major said. “It’s all of our collective experiences and the best representation of our music as it’s grown.”
Slippery Slope will be released online June 8. Catch Mr. Feelgood’s release show on June 13 at the Wild Buffalo.