Updated: Friday, 25th April 2014 @ 5:57am

Interview: Nashville rockers The Features chat Kings of Leon support, live music and return to Manchester

Interview: Nashville rockers The Features chat Kings of Leon support, live music and return to Manchester

By Dean Wilkins

The home of music, the pioneer of perfect ballsy guitaring, the destination for American country-rockers… Manchester is about to go ballistic for The Features’ arrival at The Deaf Institute.

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, the four-piece of frontman Matt Phelam, bassist Roger Dabbs, keyboardist Mark Bond and drummer Rollum Hass are set to conquer the UK once again as they begin their latest tour today.

And having toured with rock gurus and fellow Nashvillians Kings of Leon, the blues-grass quartet are a breath of fresh man sweat, intertwined with rugged beards and ear-splitting rifts.

Ahead of their show in Manchester, MM caught up with singer and guitarist Matt to chat about their latest material, the Followills and stage performances.

A humble Matt began by expressing his delight at the path that led them back to the UK.

“It’s great to be here, it’s the first day of the UK tour and the response back home to our latest album Wilderness has been amazing,” he revealed to MM. “But we have to wait and see how the UK react!”

Having found themselves playing to crowds in Nashville during the 1990s, The Features were destined to entertain fans on a global level – more recently their gruff and mighty track ‘How it Starts’ was chosen for the Ford Mustang advert.

But despite struggling to break out of their small town in 14 years of graft, their good friends and international rock heroes Kings of Leon have helped to raise their profile – and deservedly so.

“We love those guys,” Matt added. “We’ve been friends for years and always enjoy touring with them. I haven’t spoken to them for a while as they’ve been dealing with personal affairs.”

The Followill foursome have taken a year-long break from music after several heated arguments and affairs – leaving millions of fans anxious about their future.

But with album number six on the way, the Grammy-award winners are soon to be releasing their latest album and The Features could be teaming up for a special collaboration.

“It would be great to work with them,” Matt claimed. “They have a huge following and have really put Nashville on the map. But future collaborations? We’ll see!”

KOL’s frontman Caleb Followill has described The Features as ‘the best undiscovered band around. I was puking round the back shaking the first time I saw them play as I thought 'We can't follow these guys!' That's how I feel every time I see them’.

And with a compliment like that, The Features’ dedication to the cause becomes even more inspiring.

Their passion for playing has extended well into a decade and they have stuck to their guns to keep doing what they love – simply playing.

There’s no gimmicks, no frills. Just four men, four instruments, a set of lungs and a knack for blowing the roof of venues with classic indie, country and rock.

They’re glowing reputation for superb musical performances and home-grown influences have earned them an underground following – now it’s time to take it to the next level!

“We’re always happy to be playing new music and hitting the road,” Matt said. “We’ve been away from the UK for a while but our return will be great and I’m looking forward to what follows.

“We’re a collection of every band, every artist, every song we’ve heard and we all take different preferences as members.

“I guess that’s why it’s kind of tricky to describe us – but I’d keep it simple and say we’re a rock band.

“Playing on stage we keep things simple too by just playing, and with an hour to play our songs there’s going to be a lot of chance to hear our music.”

You can see why The Features are so heavily applauded by critics and listeners alike when the tear out of the blocks at The Deaf Institute tomorrow, September 13.

Find your tickets and further information about the gig by visiting their website here.

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