Indie bands influenced by the likes of Courteeners and Oasis perhaps aren’t your everyday expectation of a Scarborough band looking to make it big.
THE FEENS, made up of vocalists and guitarists Freddie Schmuck, a property and letting agent, and Adam Lodge, a teacher, plus drummer Perrie Bunton, a builder, and lead guitarist Sam Dowling, who also teaches, are looking to change that.
The alternative rock band formed in late 2016, initially performing covers. However, it wasn’t long before the band decided to make the leap and start writing and recording their own material and set about gigging out of the town, playing a number of gigs in York as their starting point, in venues such as the indie hotbed Stone Roses Bar, named after the famous band.
And it was one gig in Bridlington in 2016 that became the catalyst.
“A few of us attended a Last Shadow Puppets gig and we started jamming together and getting a feel for each other as musicians,” said Freddie.
“We’d heard Perrie could drum, and that’s how his involvement came about.”
“I’d once heard a Radio Scarborough session with Freddie,” Sam added.
“I knew that he could play and sing, so we got him involved and it all went from there really.”
However, the band’s current name didn’t actually come until a bit further down the line.
“We didn’t actually become THE FEENS until June 2017,” Freddie said. “Before that we were called Empire, for about eight months, but when we chose to do our own stuff, we decided to go with a name that was a bit different.”
The decision to start playing outside of their home town more was a bold one - with the group having to rely on support slots – but they admitted that that was exactly what they needed at that moment in time.
“The support slots we want, and we need,” Perrie said. “We’ve had to get to York and other cities to help our progress, but we aren’t big enough to play just solely as THE FEENS there yet. We need the support slots to help us grow our audience.
“We’ve played York, Sheffield and Barnsley so far, and we’ve got our first Leeds gig lined up in the coming months which is really exciting.
“We played Tramlines Festival in Sheffield too, and are due to play in Hull, so slowly we’re growing with the gigs. York has definitely been the best to us so far, and it has a lot of great music venues, from Stone Roses Bar, to Fibbers and Basement, with plenty inbetween. It’s been really good to us.”
“It’s helped us become comfortable with playing venues,” Freddie added.
“We’ve got out there, and used the gigs in the cities as chances to network. We get to know the bands, and get to know the fans. We get to know everyone, because you never know what opportunities it’ll bring.
“I think it was a good call for us to gig less in Scarborough too, and limit it to, say, one a month. It keeps people interested in what we’re doing. Rather than them just picking and choosing which gigs they go to, they have less opportunities to go, so it can build our crowds that way.”
The band’s first single, Wrong Move, was released in October 2017.
The track was well received and the video got over 12,000 views on Facebook, with interest then coming from BBC Introducing North Yorkshire’s Jericho Keys, who invited the band in for a live session, which itself led to Tom Robinson playing them on BBC 6 Music.
So far the band have released three singles, with their latest, Freedom, reaching over 169,000 plays on Spotify, eclipsing the totals for their first two singles Wrong Move and Slip Away.
They will hit the studio again in April, to record a further two singles to release later in the year.
“With Freedom, we really have to thank Lee and Ady at Sugarhouse for doing such a great job on it. They focused a lot on song structure, and gave us a lot of tips.
“They’re the best that we’ve found so far. They pulled the songs apart and totally changed the order; they’re making the songs sound great.”
And 2018 proved to be a big year, with the band’s music featured nationally, both on TV and radio.
An appearance on Soccer AM back in September, soundtracking the show’s ‘Goal of the Week’, was also backed up by numerous other appearances, both locally and nationally.
“The national radio plays are the sort of thing that we really need to get things off the ground. Naturally the Spotify plays are great, and there’s a load of other stuff going off that can get us noticed as well.
“To be included in the Fred Perry Subculture article for up and coming bands for the year ahead was a real boost, it’s always great to get mentions in things like that.”