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The best kept secret in music


"Interview By: Josh Cascone - October '04"

If you have not already seen, heard, or heard of this band, you will. With a sound indescribable and a live show more sincere and heartfelt than your best friend’s funeral. The scene is set: small club, dim lights… they climb on stage, tell you a story… the entire crowd is silent, hanging on every word… they begin to play, tears flow from their eyes like an open artery. It’s all very personal- dark lyrics, energetic, heavy… mellow, melodic, hard breakdowns, blood-curdling screams, feedback all over an ever changing temp. …songs of death, songs of life, songs of pain, divorce, and suicide; but all songs with deep personal meaning. There’s something more to these songs, things that you can only hear with your heart. It’s like a musical diary.

I know what you’re thinking. Not another I hate my life band uniformed in black crawling around the stage at every show. That’s just the problem; there is no “show” here. This band is different, very humble, very honest, and despite the songs of (personal) torment and destruction, very friendly. They’ve been able to accomplish all they have done without the aid of record companies or even a great recording; that’s right, 100% DIY. They are about to record their first full length, “God Help Us!” (working title). I had the chance to get together with Jesse (JH-Bass/Vocals/Keys), Bobby (Wo-Guitar/Vocals/Keys), Make (MM-Drums) in December. Although you may not be able to tell by reading this, it was non-stop laughter and smiles. I love these guys, and chances are, if you’ve met them, you do to.

We’ll get the boring stuff out of the way first. How long have you been together?
Wo: Our first show was on February 16th, 2001. We should have called ourselves "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" but we stuck with Featherlight.
JH:We went through a few line-up changes, but that first show was Wo, Mike, and myself. Mike quit at one point, and we had three different drummers before he came back in 2003. We've been back together with this line-up since March '03.
What does Featherlight mean?
Wo: It's more personal... it's meaning is probably only important to me. Most people would think it's dumb, so I just tell everyone it's because our lyrics are dark, but people would refer to us as "the light", it's kind of a contradiction. But actually, I heard it in a dream, and I couldn't figure out what it meant, so I used it as a band name.
How long have you been touring?
JH: For about two years, just light stuff, weekends here and there, nothing big yet. We took our first couple of road trips with The Switch, that got things going. We love playing shows, we love traveling; it's the best, that's all we talk about.
Wo: I think that's our goal, we're not worried about record labels, or getting huge, we just want to play every night.
You guys are from Pittsburgh and proud of it, why?
Wo: Pittsburgh is the best. Most people don't think of Pittsburgh as being a hotbed for new music, but there are quite a few really, really good bands and artists on the rise around here.
MM: We were all born and raised here. Pittsburgh is a part of us and vice versa. It's all about knowing who you are and being proud of it.
JH: I agree with Wo and Mike, and I just flat out love Pittsburgh.
So who are these "really, really good bands and artists" you mentioned, Anti Flag or Christina Aguilera?
Wo: Definetly Anti Flag, I remember seeing them when they were just getting started, and now they're huge, but they're still the nicest group of guys. I am so happy for those guys.
JH: Yeah I see those guys at other bands shows, and it's awesome to see a band that big out supporting the scene. Justin and Chris #2 will just come up and talk to you like they've known you their whole lives. They're still keeping it real, practicing what they preach. We used to sing a song about Christina Aguilera, but we shouldn't get into that.
Wo: Yeah, let's leave that buried, where it should be.
Who are these "bands and artists on the rise" as you put it?
JH: Some of them are on the rise, some are just not as well known. Some of my local favs are: Whatever It Takes, Better Off Dead (They changed their name and I don't know what it is now). Once Nothing...
Wo: Linus, The Last Hope, Better Off Dead, The Switch, Five Feet Ahead, Terra Firma, half of Five Ways From Sunday...
JH: Death Follows Daybreak, Drain This Blood, Loko Phylum, The Caulfield Principle, etc...
Wo: There's just too many to mention.
So was that just a big plug for those bands, or what?
JH: Both, we were just name dropping for some, and answering your question.
Who are some of your influences?
Wo:Alkaline Trio, Sonic Youth, Sunny Day Real Estate, Rancid, Anti-Flag, Avenged Sevenfold; hardcore, jazz, hip-hop, classic, I like it all.
JH: There's too many to list as far as music goes: Alkaline Trio, Dead Poetic, Thursday, Whatever It Takes, Joe Stummer and The Clash, etc., there's once again too many to list.
MM: William Goldsmith from Sunny Day Real Estate
Explain why it's common to see someone all teary-eyed at a Featherlight show.
Wo: It's hard to explain why. Some of our songs need an explaination before we play them, once you understand what they're about, they can get to you.
JH: We're up there pouring our hearts our about friends dying, family's splitting up, and the world ultimately ending, so our emotion and passion sometimes just gets to the listener.
MM: Like Most people, we haven't had the most "peachy keen" lives, and our music reflects that pain. Our release is our music, it's a way to get through it all.
Wo: We don't want... it's just that... I can't explain it. It just happens every so often. Someone will come up to us after a show and say something along the lines of "that one song made me cry, but it felt good."
What do you guys think about when you play?
MM: Most of the time it's exactly what we're singing about, but honestly a lot of the time my mind goes to whatever issues I'm dealing with at the time and I just let the music heal.
Wo: Mostly what the song is about. If it's about a dead or dying friend, I just picture their face or something. I play with my eyes closed a lot.
You're heading into the studio to record your first full length, nervous?
Wo: No
Not at all?
Wo: There's always a little pressure when recording, but we just give it all we got.
JH: I hate recording, Every song changes, Nothing ever goes right, neither Wo nor I can sing on key, so we gotta do vocals over and over again. We've recorded three times, and we were never happy with the final product, so we never really released any of it. There's no pressure, I just hate it.
Are you looking at any labels for the CD?
Wo: We're not sure what we're gonna do, we gotta talk to some labels still. We may release it under an indie label we started called Operation Records.
What about your hometown label, A-F Records?
JH: We'll definetly send them a copy, and see what they have to say.
Wo: I don't think they would sign us, because of style issues.
They signed Tabula Rasa.
Wo: True.
What's this I hear about Warner Brothers?
Wo: We met a lady who retired from Time Warner, we gave her a demo, and she wanted to hear a better quality recording of two of our songs. But, by the time we would have had them recorded, we weren't playing them any more, and we don't really ever want to play those songs again.
JH: We'll take a copy of the new stuff to her, after we record and master it, but we're not really counting on going that route. It's just kinda far fetched.
What are you guys doing now?
JH: Recording and focusing on touring when we can.
Wo: When we're home, we all work for the same window cleaning company, our boss is super rad and he gives us any days we need for shows and stuff. Jesse just got married, his wife might be joining the F*L on keys. We're just relaxing, working out the kinks before we record. That's basically it.
Thats about it, do you guys want to thank anyone or do some more name dropping?
F*L: Definetly, all love and thanks to God; Sherry, Amber, Rickael; all of the Featherlight family that support us, come to our shows, etc.; Greg & Cathy Blythe and Dayspring; Mike Petras; and last but not least. Lisa at AMP Magazine. - American Music Press (AMP Magazine)


God Help Us! E.P. (2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


On Feb. 16, 2001, Featherlight performed its first show. The 3-piece consisted of Jesse Holeczy (bass and backup vocals), Bobby Wo (guitar and lead vocals) and Mike Mator (drums). Shortly after their premier, Christ Donacky joined as lead guitarist. Nine months later, Mike left for college.

In Mike’a place, Aron Johnston (The Switch) took over, sometimes playing double sets with Featherlight and The Switch. Then, with only two weeks before the next tour, Aron left Featherlight to focus on his other band. In Aron’s place, Frank Stone--who had belonged to Wo’s former band, Code Hero--picked up the drum sticks. FL held onto Frank for about a year before he bailed to start a country band. For a short time after Frank’s departure, Jeremy Jacobs (Linus) filled in and performed at some of FL’s landmark shows.

To end the drummer search once and for all, Mike Mator quit college to reclaim his thrown as the final drummer for FL. But just as the band finally settled down with their new/old drummer, Chris Donacky quit to play bass for Linus. Thus, the band came full circle to the original trio--Jesse, Bobby and Mike.