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On Tour with The Wild Feathers

If the Steve Miller Band and your favorite honky-tonk act had a love child, it would be The Wild Feathers. Started in 2010 and currently signed with Warner Nashville, the Wild Feathers are billed as a country rock band and are seeing growing success as they start their headline tour next month. With a heavy southern rock influence, Taylor Burns, Ricky Young, Joel King, and Ben Jarvis Dumas are putting their own spin on modern country music. Rather than opting for clap tracks and the ever common pop-bro-country vibe, these gentlemen have perfected a throw-back, country-soul-meets-70’s-rock revival sound that, quite simply, is irresistible. Lula 1892 had the opportunity to sit down with Taylor Burns, lead singer of the Wild Feathers, to catch up on their plans for 2019.

Taylor burns, who originally hails from Texas, always knew music would play a major part in his adult life. “I grew up in a musical family. My dad plays the guitar, so there wasn’t this specific moment where I knew it was what I wanted to do; it was just always around. It was always going to be the choice I made. My dad would let me strum on guitars before I knew how to play, and his band would bring me up on stage to sing and tap my foot from the time I was a really little kid. After I moved to Austin and started writing my own songs it really hit me that I could do this forever. I was welcomed into the local music scene in Austin, which is a great scene, and I figured out that I really, really love making music.” Though Burns has made music for as long as he’s been able to pick up an instrument, it wasn’t a straight shot to the Wild Feathers for him, or for anyone else in the band.

“Everyone in our band had been in other bands before we got together. Ricky, Joel, and me, were all singers in other bands- in fact, we all fronted our own bands as lead singers. I was still in Austin, while Ricky and Joel were in Nashville. We met at South by Southwest through a mutual friend. Joel and Ricky were looking to form a band with mutual singers, and our mutual friend thought of me. They came to my house for something I promised my friend and we started hanging out, playing each other songs we had written, and it just kind of blossomed from there. We really didn’t know what we were doing; it was all trial by fire. But we started writing together more and got a developmental deal with interscope. Eventually we wound up out in Los Angeles in one apartment, sleeping two feet from each other, writing songs every day.”  Burns credits his time in Los Angeles alongside his bandmates with helping him grow into a better artist. “I had never done anything like that before. I had just finished school, and of course I was playing shows a lot, but it was kind to be plucked out of my comfort zone – out of my nice little bubble – and to be dropped in the middle of Hollywood working with these awesome producers which means I had to work my ass off to keep up. It scared me. I was shaking in my boots, but it definitely made me a better songwriter and musician. I learned to just go for it out there.”

The Wild Feathers have been blessed to work with some of the greatest producers and executives in the business along their way, including Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, Shooter Jennings, Colter Wall, Zac Brown Band, Lori McKenna, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell) and Jeff Sosnow (executive vice president of artist & rep, Warner Nashville). Though their team has always been fantastic, their path has not always been straight and narrow. “Ricky and Joel knew Jeff Sosnow before I did, but when we started writing together we sent him some songs and really dug it. Sosnow was the one who signed us with Interscope, but then Interscope let him go. He told us when we got dropped with him that it would all work out. He couldn’t say anything at the time, but when he got hired by Warner in Nashville, we were the first act to get signed. Warner Brothers is a much better fit for us than Interscope was. We were among hip hop and urban acts and people kind of looked at us like we were crazy when we were there.”

Throughout their ten year tenure as a band, the Wild Feathers have seen multiple ups and downs, including being dropped from their first label and playing to empty rooms for nights in a row to opening for their heroes, getting signed by Warner, and embarking on their first headline tour this year. As the guys embark on their tour, starting this April in Burns’ home state of Texas, Burns reflected on their experience with opening up for Bob Dylan and other legends. “It was totally crazy, to be honest. It was all the clichés you can imagine; a dream come true, surreal. We had just been dropped from Interscope so there was this eight-month purgatory period where we didn’t know what we were going to do or what our options were. I was still living in Austin, but decided to uproot myself and move to Nashville so we could try to make this work. We had been playing this circuit like six days a week across the southern United States and we were so burnt out. We were about to have to do an overnight drive to Texas from – I think – Savannah, Georgia. We asked our booking agent if we could cancel one of these shows just to make it. He said we couldn’t, we just had to stick it out… but he had some good news. He told us we were opening for Bob Dylan for two shows and I can remember there being visible tears in all our eyes. We were so road dogged out and Bob Dylan is such a hero of all of ours, it was just amazing. I mean, Bob Dylan is a damn American treasure, you know? After Dylan came Paul Simon, and then Willie Nelson. As a Texan, opening for Willie Nelson was a top bucket list item. He let us come up and sing three or four songs with him every night. I just… if I didn’t have photographic evidence, I wouldn’t believe that it had all happened.”

Through all their ups and downs, Burns credits the band’s close relationship for keeping them together and on a path to success. “I think one of our biggest assets as a band is that we genuinely love each other. We’re like a close knit family. We fight and we yell and we get on each other’s nerves, but at the end of the day we love and respect one another. That respect and genuine affection for each other has carried us through the low times. Music, especially these days, is a tough, tough place to be. We’ve never let our ups and downs divide us, and that’s how we’ve been able to stick this out for ten years.”

With three albums under their belt with Warner, The Wild Feathers are starting their first headline tour on April 11, kicking off at the Texas Lottery Plaza at Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas. From there the band will appear everywhere from California to North Carolina through September 2019. To keep up with The Wild Feathers and for show information, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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