The Features are a band from Middle Tennessee. They are the greatest band ever, and (whether you know it or not) they are your favorite band.
Genesis: The Treehouse Club
The Features began in the late 1980s when middle school friends Matt Pelham, Roger Dabbs, and Don Sergio all got guitars for Christmas and began playing music together, mostly playing the music of their favorite artists, bands like Camper Van Beethoven and R.E.M.. The band began performing at local talent shows and parties under the name The Features, a name that Don Sergio is credited with giving them. Before settling on that name, they considered calling several other names, including "Yellow No. 5 Dye," "Moon Bison," and "The Charlie Volts."
By the time they had graduated from White County High School in Sparta, TN in 1993 and moved to the college town of Murfreesboro, TN to attend Middle Tennessee State University, the band had grown to a five-piece, joined by Jason Taylor on drums and their long-time friend Parrish Yaw, whose multiple keyboards and simple, sometimes two-thumb keyboard riffs would help create the band's signature sound. The songs were mostly written by Matt, but Don often had an influence on the chord structure and melody of the songs.
They played their first show in Murfreesboro at a coffee house called Java, and they soon began to develop a following in the college town with a mixture of energetic performances, occasional stage gimmicks, girl appeal, and of course, great music. Their following caught the attention of other bands and musicians in town as well, and this led to their addition to Spongebath Records' roster of bands, which earned them a great deal of credibility on the local scene as well as gave them the opportunity to tour and share billings with the larger groups on that label, Self and Fluid Ounces. The Features released their self-titled EP in 1997 on Spongebath Records and recorded a full-length album with producer Richard Dortch that would never be released.
In 1998, Don Sergio and Jason Taylor left the band. The reasons for this split can only be speculated, but it is believed that a schism arose between Sergio and Spongebath president Richard Williams, perhaps over the unreleased album, perhaps over Williams' reported preference of Matt Pelham's songs over those of Don Sergio. Parrish Yaw once speculated that Sergio left to simply go to school, work for his family, and "create his own life."
After the departure of Sergio and Taylor, the band added drummer Rollum Haas and briefly included a new guitarist, Jim O'Shea, but ultimately decided to go on as a four-piece band. Six songs from their unreleased full-length record were released, four on the Spongbath label's two sampler CDs, and two on the band's own "Thursday" 10" single vinyl release.
With a new line-up in place, the rock scene in Murfreesboro and Nashville was theirs for the taking. By 2001, they were filling almost every club in both towns with fans while expanding their following all over the southeast. Matt Pelham's new wife giving birth to two twin girls would provide the inpsiration for The Beginning EP, which the band self-released. Their ever-growing following and the help of Rollum Haas's father-in-law, award-winning songwriter and musician Craig Krampf, caught the attention of Universal Records, who re-released The Beginning EP and funded the band for tours of the United States and United Kingdom in preparation for the release of the Features' first full-length CD, Exhibit A, which they recorded in 2003 and released in 2004. The release party for that record is when it is believed the Features began their relationship with the Southern rock band Kings of Leon, who subsequently invited the Features to tour with them across the U.S., exposing the band to countless new fans.
The band had already begun writing songs and creating demos for their next release in May, 2006, when Universal Records approached them to record the Beatles' song "All You Need Is Love" for use in a Chase American credit card commercial and as the band's next single. The band had reservations about recording the song, both for its use in a commercial as well as their feeling that the song didn't represent who they were as a band. The repercussions of turning down this opportunity were fully realized and hotly debated among the band members and management, and in the end, they refused to record the song. They were promptly dropped from Universal Records, and Parrish Yaw left the band.
The band continued on, adding Mark Bond on keyboards and self-releasing the Contrast EP in 2007 and their second full-length record, Some Kind of Salvation, in 2008. The Features continued to tour as well as they could without the support of a label, continuing to receive support from Kings of Leon, who eventually formed an independent record label that has to date only released the music of the Features, starting with the release of their third full-length record, Wilderness, in 2011.
- Nashville Scene: Back to the Drawing Board (9/7/2006) - an in-depth cover story for Nashville Scene from September, 2006, that covers the band's early history, its signing with Universal, and subsequent departure from the label