Formed in 2011, the two-person indie band Feral Conservatives are set on cutting their own path through the music world with a mixture of 90s indie rock influence and their own urgency. BULLET spoke with Rashie Rosenfarb (vocals, mandolin and bass), and Matt Francis (drums, pedal noise and feedback) of Feral Conservatives about what inspires them creatively and what it was like growing up in Virginia Beach. They’ve got a new single, “Class Reunion” (which you can hear below) from an upcoming EP that will be out in February.
Tell me about where you grew up.
Rashie Rosenfarb: I grew up in Virginia Beach about 20 minutes away from the oceanfront.
Matt Francis: Michigan. I was born in Grand Rapids and grew up in small town south of Lansing. We had to drive two hours to catch shows in Detroit growing up. If I would’ve stayed I’d probably join the brewing scene which seems to be thriving there.
What was the moment you decided to play music?
RR: Growing up my parents encouraged us to play music and sing. We grew up singing a lot around the house and both my parents play guitar so music was just a part of our lives. We sometimes would even play as a five piece family band which is probably really cheesy but I have some fond memories of those times. But I think the moment I really knew was when my brother introduced me to some punk rock bands when I was an early adolescent and I had such a strong connection to the music it inspired me to start playing more seriously.
M: I grew up in a conservatives church environment so I was surrounded by stale, safe, and mostly recycled music–in corporate worship, in the car on the radio — it was all just the same adult contemporary and I really had no connection to it. Even as kid I knew it was cheesy. It was when I was probably ten when I first discovered punk music. It was fast, had an edge to it, and they actually sang about things I thought about (mostly girls and the associated heartbreak). That was my first real connection to rock and roll and there being danger in music. I picked up the drums not too long later…I was in a band before I could keep a beat. I’m still trying to keep a beat, actually…
What’s the scene you most inspired by?
M: Regionally I’d probably say Minneapolis in the 80’s, and conceptually the 80’s college rock scene. It’s pretty amazing how many great bands came out of MN at that time, especially when you look at how isolated it was from your New York or LA. Really, you had Chicago like a day’s drive but where else would you tour? Fargo? Yet we got the Replacements, Husker Du, The Suburbs, Prince…I guess when it’s so cold you either drink or make timeless rock, and usher in the age of indie rock from the roots of punk and hardcore. Expanding on that, as a band, we’re really into Pixies, Sonic Youth, REM.
RR: I agree. It’s really inspiring to read about how those guys paved the way for bands like us coming after. They were the true beginning of indie rock. On that same thread We also get a lot of inspiration from bands like Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, Teenage Fanclub and The Cranberries — 90’s bands who created a cool sense of community while still staying true to who they were as bands.
What does the new EP mean to you?
RR: Super exciting for both of us. There are a couple songs that we’ve had for awhile that really mean a lot to me and it’s been cool to see them unfurl and finally come to life through recording. And there’s two newer songs we just wrote not too long ago that I feel complement the others really well. There’s a nice balance of noisy meets soft and delicate which is something we strive for as a band.
M: It’s huge… it really sums us up as a band and individually as songwriters. It’s the culmination of years of shaping our sound, taking a mandolin on the road and touring bars and beefing up this delicate sound because, you know, that’s how we demand attention. ‘You’ve never heard of us.’ So then you plug this mandolin into a Big Muff and run it out through two amps cause we’re just a garage band at heart. And that’s what this record is… it sounds like we do live. The production is so intimate,like you’re in the room with us, and it really captures us at this very second for good or bad.
How’s Virginia Beach?
RR: VA Beach is pretty quiet this time of year when all the tourists are gone. But music-wise there’s really not much going on. We tend to play out at venues in nearby Norfolk.
M: It’s near an ocean…so there’s that. The best thing about it is we are close enough to Norfolk, Richmond, DC, Raleigh.
Anything else you’d like to add?
RR: We’ve also got some tour dates coming up in the New Year (January, March).