Sitting on the flowered, worn vintage couch, surrounded by flashing, strobe-like Christmas lights, local band Feeling Beastly sprawls, drinking pot after pot of coffee. Each secret or uncouth comment is immediately followed with a precise, matter-of-fact, “off the record” and overwhelming laughter.
Their comfortable style reflects their views on music. Bantering, inside jokes and personal secrets fill the atmosphere surrounding the close-knit group.
Personalities mix seamlessly, generating carefree, energetic friendships. This friendship braces them for each show and unexpected incident, leading them to laugh rather than fret.
A single word describes how Feeling Beastly has entered the Fort Collins music scene: luck.
“In everything, we are so lucky,” said guitarist Aaron Landgraf. Setting up shows has been luck of the draw, along with whom they’ve met and how they’ve expanded, Landgraf said.
Landgraf along with drummer Mitch Keller, singer/keyboard player Kelsey Myers and singer/tambourine player Marta Isernia have been friends since junior high, and bassist Kate Bristol joined the group in 2008.
“Our collective influences come out through our songs,” Bristol said. “We all listen to so much different music.”
Avis Rent a Car
Practices began in the basement of Avis rent-a-car. Owned by Keller’s parents, Avis was a perfect venue, random and out of the way. However, it was not out of the way enough to protect them from getting kicked out by the neighborhood night watchman.
Expanding to other venues, the band traversed between practicing in The Barn, which is the Act So Big Forest recording studio, and the University of Northern Colorado dorms before deciding on Myers’ parents house.
“We used chopsticks on art canvases and a toy keyboard,” Myers said. “Hence we explained ourselves like that on MySpace.”
The group describe themselves as sounding like squawking, hooting, banging, singing, chopsticks and pens.
While practicing in the UNC dorms, they worked on their song generation and instrumentation.
“We practiced in the UNC laundry rooms in the A dorms, my dorms,” Landgraf said. “We loaded up chopsticks and pens, and boots.”
Throughout the beginning, the band ranged from four to 10 members. Friends would gather in Myers’ basement, collaborating on sounds and songs.
Finally settling on the current five members, they distinguish themselves as sounding like “garage rock pop, dance, but not techno,” said Myers while Isernia adds, “canoe music.”
The guy in the alley and the marquee
Feeling Beastly’s initiation into the local music scene proved uncomfortable and memorable when the group encountered an interesting character outside of Hodi’s Half Note.
“When we were unloading the car into the loading dock out back of Hodi’s, there was this huge guy in a Subaru taking up space,” Myers said.
The rest of the band starts laughing as Myers continues, “I had dropped some stuff off and was walking back to the car and he pulls up and says, ‘You look good, like my type of woman. And the best thing is I can put a chain in your nose ring and pull you around like a dog.”
And that was their introduction to the music scene. The band remembers their next few shows going fairly well, but not flawlessly.
“During our Hodi’s show, the previous band left the reverb on, so everything was echoing,” Isernia said.
A proud moment for the group was their show at the Aggie, where their name was on the marquee on College Avenue. “We were like, ‘Oh my god, it’s our name. Right next to New Found Glory!'” Bristol said.
The show entered their memory banks and the bands growing repertoire.
“This was the only live show we ever had recorded,” Landgraf said. “It was really intimidating, and because the place is so big everyone was split into two groups, dancing on both sides. It was a junior high dance thing that happened.”
But Feeling Beastly’s best show was a house show, they said.
“It felt nice to have all those people up against everyone,” Landgraf said. “Even though there weren’t necessarily more people there than other shows, it was so small that it felt really good. And when my guitar fell, they laughed.”
Bristol attributes the success of the show to their confidence and how well they played.
Rule No. 1: Don’t touch each other
Inspiration is delved from the band members extensive music tastes. Landgraf usually writes his guitar part, Myers and Isernia write lyrics and everyone collaborates on how to combine the sounds.
“Our songs change a lot from start to finish,” Landgraf said. If they grow tired of playing the same song over and over, they replace it with something new. “We usually get mad because nothing works out,” Isernia said. “We yell a lot.”
The yelling is rarely serious however, with spur of the moment rules being applied to uncomfortable situations to add a dose of humor.
When faced with close proximity to each other, each shifted and got comfortable. When Bristol was asked to lie across the other members’ laps, they took it in stride and merely proclaimed, “This is breaking our first rule. We’re just breaking every rule tonight.”
Their camaraderie allows them to approach their music with a laid back attitude, but one that makes them create something they all enjoy.
“Right now we’re focusing on making our shows better since we really have only two that we thought were good,” Landgraf said. “After that we want to move through the rest of Fort Collins and eventually through Denver.”
Feeling Beastly has played at every venue in Fort Collins except Avogadro’s Number, but a show is scheduled there for April 11. Visit http://myspace.com/feelingbeasty for more information and show schedules.
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.