Holiday Toy Drive with Feel Spectres and Starlight Mints
9 p.m. tonight
Opolis, 113 N. Crawford, Norman
$12 advance, $15 door, 21 and over
$14 advance, $17 door, under 21
There’s a sense that as you get older, you must give up your youthful idealism and childhood fancies. While there may be a certain truth to that, there’s certainly no reason you have to go gently into that good night. This is the discovery of Oklahoma City quartet Feel Spectres.
The members leveraged chops culled from playing in various local acts in the 1990s, and channeled their remaining innocent verve into a quirky, smart, indie-pop combo.
The genesis of Feel Spectres goes back to sometime last year when scene vets Mike and April Mays, Allen Cory and Matt Goad started meeting to indulge in a mutual love for making music, but the sessions grew into something more. A decade earlier, Cory and both Mays had begun another band for fun, named Loretta. In fact, Cory introduced Mike and April to each other. But as marriage, school and professional lives intervened, the outfit dissipated without ever really taking the public stage.
“You sit around and all of sudden, you think, ‘I’m more than my 9-to-5,'” said Cory, who also drummed for the Reverb Brothers in the ’90s. “I said, ‘Why don’t we get together and we’ll do something?'”
The Spectres started in earnest after one-time American Boyfriends and Starlight Mints member Goad joined the original trio on guitar/vocals. After a half-dozen practices spent “hammering songs into place,” Cory said the four had a practice where everything gelled, and they all sensed it.
As the band became more serious, practices became more regular, and the quartet decided to document its progress with recordings before ever even booking a show. That was 10 months ago, and the Feel Spectres have progressed considerably since. In late August, the group played its first show, and the momentum has been steadily building.
Feel Spectres move with slick, sinuous swerve, from the dreamy, The Church-like psych-pop of “Secret Man,” with its resplendent backing vocals, to the psychobilly rave-up “Vampire Bop,” and the spunky, spiky, post-punk groove of “13 Dead Cats.”
However, nothing captures the act’s cockeyed sense of humor and hook-lined temperament better than the satirical “Blow Up the Moon,” which takes nuclear proliferation to its natural end. After all, who needs waves when you live in Oklahoma? Of course, it’s all in good fun.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Cory said. “I know that all life on earth is dependent on the moon. I watch the Science Channel.”
The Feel Spectres’ tracks were produced by Chris Harris, who released the songs on his new label, Nice People Records. The forthcoming full-length disc has entered its final stages.
“Early next year, we’ll be having our CD release,” said guitarist Mike Mays, an architect at Elliott + Associates. “We already have the majority of the songs complete. We’re just doing some fine-tuning and a little bit of vocal work.”
The whole “older, wiser” aspect has enhanced the endeavor and, in many ways, made it possible, according to bassist April Mays, who toured nation-wide in the ’90s with local major-label act Radial Spangle, before mothballing the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for a while.
“Now, we actually have the flexibility and freedom to go record and play when we want to. When you’re younger, you don’t have that freedom,” she said. “With the experience we have, it’s a lot easier to record. Because we have a lot more experience, we can just go in and lay it down. We already know what to expect, we’re ready for it, and it’s much more relaxing and fun because that’s what we’re doing it for.”
Her husband concurs.
“When I was younger, less established and didn’t have a day job and a career for that matter, I think I would tend to put too much emphasis on some visions of grandeur that this was going to be something other than what it is,” he said, “which is just four people getting together and loving what they’re doing at the moment.”
But the Feel Spectres aren’t likely to be a fly-by-night enterprise. With age, its members have gleaned an appreciation for the value of perseverance and dedication. The Mays currently are building an extension on their house for a practice space/recording studio ” an opportunity these hometown lifers credit to where they grew up.
“It’s very economical,” Mike Mays said. “We couldn’t afford to do that a big city like New York, and it’s that kind of freedom to do what you want on your terms that living in Oklahoma allows.” “Chris Parker