The Felice Brothers :: The AD Interview

New York’s Felice Brothers — whose excellent self-titled record was released this year by Conor Oberst’s Team Love label — were one of the highlights of this year’s Newport Folk Festival. The group, which consists of Ian, Simone, and James Felice along with their friends Farley and Christmas (seriously), played foot-stompin’ country music, knee-deep in the mud and up to their eyes in adoration.

Aquarium Drunkard sat down with James Felice at Newport to ask a bit about the group’s history and to see how they’re handling the transition to the big time.

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Aquarium Drunkard: You guys grew up playing country, folk, and bluegrass, right?

James Felice: Playing and listening to it, yeah.

AD: Is that mostly your father’s influence?

JF: Our father and friends and, for me, my older brothers Simone and Ian. They listened to it all the time. Every opportunity.

AD: And that’s how you got started, just playing at your house, right?

JF: Yeah, playing at my dad’s house at barbecues and stuff. Then we took it to the street and started playing a lot of gospel music and stuff like that; all the old stuff.

AD: And you played in the subways, too?

JF: Yeah, the subways in New York, a lot of farmer’s markets in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and in a lot of the towns near where we grew up. Touristy towns and all of that. Now we’re here.

AD: You guys have played Bonnaroo —

JF: Yep.

AD: And a few other festivals. It’s a pretty rapid rise from the subways and farmer’s markets to the big stages.

JF: It’s crazy, you know? I can’t even explain it; I’m just excited to be here.

AD: How’s the crowd reception been?

JF: The crowd’s been amazing. We’ve had a lot of fun. There are some mishaps: we were playing in Athens, opening for the Drive-By Truckers, and after the show some old lady came up to us while we were packing our shit up and said, “You are the worst band I’ve ever heard.” Like, straight up. (laughs) But usually people enjoy the music.

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